The Cathedral in Lugo

posted in: Europe, Galicia, Spain | 1

The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Lugo is an imposing building in one corner of the old town, next to the Roman walls. Building started in the 12C and shows different architectural styles from the Romanesque to the Baroque. You have to buy a ticket as a visitor, like all the cathedrals I saw, so you can’t pop in and out with a camera, or to just wander around.

History of the Cathedral

The first cathedral was built on this site in Lugo in the 8C. Then, like many similar buildings, replaced with a more ambitious building a few centuries later.

Neo-Classical facade of 1769 of the Cathedral in Lugo

Outside the Cathedral

The Cathedral is in a large square but as you approach from different streets there are some fascinating views of the building. Curves and flying buttresses are part of the original, older building and quite different to the clean lines of the facade of 1769. The Bishop’s Palace was only just visible behind the Cathedral. Strange constructions were appearing around the town, including in the cathedral square, because the Festival of St Froilan was about to take place.

Cathedral of Lugo from a nearby street
Lugo Cathedral side door
Facade of Lugo Cathedral
Facade of the Cathedral, facing towards the walls
The Bishop’s Palace behind the Cathedral, with stage for the Festival

Inside the Cathedral of Lugo

The interior of the cathedral is vast, and the light is very dim. Tripods are forbidden and so I had to cope with handheld photographs and the Canon Powershot G5X which is remarkable under these difficult circumstances. You enter through a sea of stone columns to find the high altar.

Columns in the Cathedral of Lugo
Inside the Cathedral of Lugo

Apse of the Cathedral in Lugo

Behind the High Altar the 14C Apse includes five ornate chapels, of which the Chapel of the Virgin de los Ojos Grandes is the most ornate. This Chapel was created in the 16C although the statue of the Virgin is probably from an earlier period.

The Chapel of the Virgin de los Ojos Grandes


The Choir is in the middle of the building, similar to the choirs in the Monasteries at Gradefes and Santa Maria de Sandoval. Francisco de Moure carved the choir stalls out of walnut in the 17C. This reminded me of the reredos in the Collegiata in Monforte de Lemos. The choir is reserved for private prayer and visitors are not allowed to enter. I thought this was good, and would prevent some of the embarrassing incidents I have seen with insensitive tourists photographing and intruding into private space. Sadly, we couldn’t go into the choir as visitors as it is a space reserved for private prayer.

Choir in Lugo Cathedral
Choir in Lugo Cathedral


The original altarpiece is from 1534 and it was made by Cornelis of Holland. However, it was damaged in the earthquake of 1755 and is now in two parts on opposite sides of the transept.

Part of the original altarpiece in the transept
Carving on the original altarpiece
Carving on the original altarpiece

In the Cathedral

Lugo Cathedral
Chapel in Lugo Cathedral

Cloister of the Cathedral of Lugo

The Cathedral has a smallish cloister of 1710. It is a single-storey building and it was quiet with no-one there. I would have like to hear the fountain because I think the sound of the water would add to the feeling of calm. The architect was Fernando de Casas y Novoa, a leading architect of the Baroque style in Galicia. He designed this Cloister at the beginning of his career.

Cloister of Lugo Cathedral
Cloister of Lugo Cathedral
Fountain in the Cloister of Lugo Cathedral
Fountain in the Cloister
Centre of the Cloister of Lugo Cathedral
In the middle of the Cloister

I enjoyed this building and I would have loved to just ‘pop’ in more often. Do visit.

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