At the east end of the cathedral (the ‘back’, so to speak) the square known as Praza da Quintana is divided into two levels, the lower Quintana de Mortos (‘Square of the Dead’) used to be a cemetery until the end of the eighteenth century, and above the steps lies the Quintana de Vivos (‘Square of the Living’). It’s a good place to meet old and new friends, and those who are not necessarily friends. I caught up with one of the latter there – José Antonio Primo de Rivera.
At the east end of the Praza da Quintana (directly facing the cathedral) is a former monastery, now a museum, the Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares. It was a forerunner of the University of Santiago de Compostela, and high on the wall is a plaque dedicated to scholars of the university who formed the Literary Battalion and fought against Napoleon’s army in the Peninsular War/Spanish War of Independence (1807-14). To non-Spanish audiences that war is probably most famous from Goya’s paintings, most notably the groundbreaking The Third of May 1808 (above), the first western painting to depict the horrors of war from the victims’ point of view.
The inscription on the monastery wall reads:
A LOS HEROES DEL BATALLON LITERARIO DE 1808 LOS ESCOLARES COMPOSTELANOS DE 1896 Y LOS AYUNTAMIENTOS DE 1822 1865 Y 1896
To the heroes of the Literary Battalion of 1808, [from] the Compostela scholars of 1896 and the city councils of 1822, 1865, and 1896
Directly above it, carved into the monastery wall (also in capitals), is the name ‘Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera’. The desire to associate him with the Batallon Literario and to present the fascist struggle as a new Spanish War of Independence is pretty obvious. Both are located in the Quintana de Mortos, but as I hope to show in future posts, the ideology is still quite alive in the territories of the Camino.