After nine centuries, a British art historian made a remarkable discovery in the world-famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella. A male figure has been discovered 13 meters above the ground in one of the hundreds of pillars. It is probably a self-portrait of one of the stonemasons who worked on the building.
Dozens of stonemasons often worked on medieval almshouses, who were not mentioned anywhere in the history books. The church also did not list the names of the people who worked on the buildings.
But sometimes such a stonemason would immortalize himself, somewhere out of sight of the regular visitors of the church. This figure, on top of one of the pillars, measures about 30 centimeters.
“Most of the time, these kinds of ‘selfies’ are tucked away in dark corners, where they were only seen by other stonemasons,” explains Jennifer Alexander, professor at the University of Warwick to The Observer . “It is a special connection that someone made in the twelfth century with later researchers. Although he probably had no idea that it would take nine hundred years for his image to be noticed.”
Alexander is one of the greatest connoisseurs of medieval architecture, specializing in ancient churches and cathedrals. She is currently conducting a major research into the structure of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella and the construction methods used.
The construction of this almshouse started in the eleventh century. The cathedral is considered one of the most special Romanesque buildings. Legend has it that the tomb of the apostle James, one of Jesus’ disciples, is located in the church.