Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Rainy rooftop tour of cathedral best way to see Santiago
The last tour of the day for us was the roof of the cathedral. We had to meet for the English speaking tour at 6 o'clock. We came well prepared since the skies had opened and it was bucketing down. After waiting for a short while to see if the rain would let up — it didn't — we were on our way. We climbed up to the gallery overlooking the cathedral to admire a row of gigantes, the huge papier mâché figures black, white and Asian paraded in many festivals in Spain. Someone mounts the gigantes on their shoulders and carries them through the town. Of course you can't see anything of the person under the gigantes. They represent lords and ladies or just regular townspeople. Gigantes of an old lady and a man smoking a horrible looking pipe are used to threaten misbehaving children.
We looked up at the many stonemasons' marks on the walls. Each stonemason would make his mark, where he had worked. The best stonemason's marks are the ones that are still etched deeply in the stone today.
Most of the other people on the tour were Irish so they weren't too bothered by the heavy rain. I must admit it was lots of fun being up there in the bad weather. It was pointed out to is that the huge chimneys we saw on some of the houses we looked out on indicated the importance of the occupants. In the 1800s a huge, ornate facade, 1800 metres long and 3 metres wide was built in front to cover up the houses of the poor. Who wanted to look at them?
We looked across at a huge nunnery; nuns enter and are never allowed out again. Even today there is a slot, through which you put your money and receive back some St. James cake made by the nuns. There is a story of a pilgrim's shadow that can be seen at night on the bell tower. It is said that he is looking across at the nunnery that houses his lost love.
As we were leaving the rainy roof we looked up at the little gargoyles and religious figures but there tucked in the corner, almost out of sight, was a bare bottom. This was the mason's way of getting back at the church official that hadn't yet paid him.
Back at the hotel we weren't surprised to see that we were soaked through. After a quick dry off, we went down to the hotel's cafeteria, which wasn't a cafeteria at all but a nice restaurant, to mingle with all the other guests watching the World Cup. A good ending to a busy day.