Conservation and restoration of the Pórtico de la Gloria

Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Galicia.
Medal/Award in the category Conservation in the year 2019.

Dating of the building: 12th century.

Applicant: José María Arias Mosquera.

Reason for the award :

The jury praised this project as a particularly outstanding example of conservation and careful recovery of polychrome stone sculpture in a work of fundamental importance in Romanesque sculpture.

The Pórtico de la Gloria is one of the most significant monuments, both sculptural and architectural, of all the European Romanesque. This is due both to the quality and scale of the sculptural ensemble and to the fact that it has been the gateway to the Cathedral of Santiago for millions of pilgrims for centuries.

The Pórtico de la Gloria of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, created between 1168 and 1188 by Master Mateo commissioned by King Ferdinand II of León, is considered the masterpiece of Romanesque Sculpture in Spain. For the millions of pilgrims who have done the Camino de Santiago over the centuries, it is the goal of a long journey. The size and quality of the sculptural ensemble, as well as its symbolic and religious significance, make it one of the most highly valued monuments in Europe.

The Portico suffered a high degree of deterioration due to environmental conditions, inappropriate conservation techniques, and certain deep-rooted customs and traditions. In the mid-2000s, its critical situation required urgent intervention. The comprehensive project was carried out in 12 years. During its first phase, teams of internationally recognized experts developed various lines of research, from polychromy and biodeterioration analysis or monitoring of environmental conditions to the experimentation of chemical or laser treatments.

The exhaustive investigation allowed to deepen the knowledge of the work and its conservation state, and served as the basis for drafting the Preventive Conservation Plan and the intervention proposal. The project allowed us to maintain the original polychrome that remained, thus preserving the aesthetic harmony of the monument.

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