The Benedictine Monastery San Martín Pinario
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The former Benedictine monastery San Martín Pinario with its 20.000 square meters is one of Spain's largest convents and one of Santiago's most significant buildings. Its main facade faces the Plaza de Azabachería, the Plaza de la Inmaculada and the cathedral's northern gate to the south. The edifice was errected by Gabriel de Casas in the years from 1697 to 1738 after a long dispute with the cathedral's chapter. The facade's central element is the portal framed by four Tuscan columnns and a flight of stairs which was added by brother Manuel de los Mártires. The niche above the door houses a statue of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Christian monastic communities. At the highest point, above the royal coat of arms there's a representation of Saint Martin of Tours cutting his cloak in half to share it with the beggar.
The front of the monastery's church is oriented towards the east. It's construction was begun by Mateo López in 1590 and it is considered the summarizing conlusion of the Renaissance style in Galicia and northern Portugal. The Virgin Mary is in the center of the representation of saints. To her left there's St. Benedict of Nursia and St. Anselm of Canterbury can be seen to her right. The gable contains a further representation of St. Martin of Tours dividing his cloak. In 1771 the architect of the southern flight of stairs, brother Manuel de los Mártires, was put in charge of a baroque descending staircase in front of the church's Renaissence portal. The excavation for the descending stairs left the original door at too high a level. So a new portal was built at the lower level to which the arch of the original one was to serve as a fanlight.