"Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares" Top 5 Page for this destination Monasterio de San Paio de Antealtares Tip by suvanki

  Statue of Saint San Paio, above entrance to Church
by suvanki
  • Statue of Saint San Paio, above entrance to Church - Santiago de Compostela
      Statue of Saint San Paio, above entrance to Church
    by suvanki
  • Stone carving Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares - Santiago de Compostela
      Stone carving Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares
    by suvanki

Originally a Benedictine monastery, built by Alfonso 11 to look after the remains of St. James. It was converted to a nunnery in 1499.
This convent/church has a museum of Sacred Art-admission according to my guide book is £1.50
Open Mon - Sat 11 - 13.30 or 1400hrs and 1600 - 1900 hrs.

I didn't get to see the museum, but each night the nuns sing during mass at 19.30 hours, then at about 20.00hrs they chant Benedictine vespers.

On the Friday night, I arrived at just before 20.00hrs in order to hear the nuns singing. Entering through the door (above which is a stone statue of the child saint San Paio, depicting his throat being slashed in recognition of his martyrdom)! I found that mass was still in progress. (I'm not a Catholic, and wasn't entirely sure of the procedure, so I sat at the back of the church)

When mass was over - The nuns sang vespers for about 20 minutes. Although I'm not particularly religious, I did find this quite moving, especially as there were only myself and 3 members of the congregation there, so it felt quite atmospheric.

Earlier in the day, I'd visited an exhibition in the former Bank of Spain, in the Plaza de las Platerias, which was intending to educate the public about the previously hidden lives of the nuns who live in enclosed orders, including the convent of San Paiou.

Apparently it is possible to purchase cookies, freshly baked by the nuns, from a hatch situated further along the Via Sacra. You enter a small entrance hall through a door which has a carving of the Virgin Mary on a donkey. I'd found this by accident earlier in the day, and had wondered what the revolving cupboard in the wall was for. I'd read somewhere before about mothers abandoning their unwanted babies at convents in similar contraptions, and assumed that it was part of its purpose. When I asked the girl at the Tourist information office, when I was enquiring about the vespers, she neither confirmed or denied this!

Address: Via Sacre 5
Directions: From the Cathedral, walk through Praza Da Quintana, walk up the steps, and at the top, on your right hand side is the entrance to the church.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 14, 2007
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