Gate of Paradise

Inside the Cathedral. Entry through the northern forecourt, on Juan de Austria street,

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An exciting symphony of colour built in stone; in its archs we may find the apostles, the prophets and the elders of the Apocalypse playing their instruments.

Located at the foot of the temple, the Gate of Paradise was built along the lines of Santiago. The sculpture set, one of the gems of the Ourense Cathedral, dazzles with its suggestive, almost hypnotic polychromy, which recently regained much of its splendour thanks to the restoration works.

The influence of Santiago (Gate of Glory) and Master Mateo’s models are evident in the set, although this piece is later, from the 13th century. It was reformed in the 16th century, placing the star-shaped dome and the image of St. Martin.

The statues in the columns reproduce the prophets, bearing labels with their names; among them, we may find Daniel with a friendly smile. Also the apostles with their books. The central arch retains the 24 elders of the Apocalypse, musicians carrying instruments from that time that seem to interact with each other in a lively talk.

The gate excels in realism and emotion, conveyed by the elders of the tympanum, a group of musicians in animated conversation.

Leaning against the mullion there is a central statue of St. James with an unusual iconography, reminiscent of the pilgrims passing through Ourense. Above it, in a niche, we find a character on horseback, sword in hand. It is Saint Martin, patron of Ourense, who according to tradition in a winter day cut his cloak in half with his blade, offering it to a beggar.

On the sides there are also two Baroque altars: the right one is dedicated to the Virgin of Bethlehem, and the left one to local martyr Saint Francisco Branco, who died in Japan in 1597. On the walls, two anonymous paintings from the 18th century showing St Christopher and St Ildefonsus.