Western Portico: Last Judgement Tympanum

The right-hand side portal of the western portico is dedicated to the Last Judgement, following a similar layout to that used in France’s Chartres Cathedral. Christ the Judge displays a more human image in accordance with the texts of Saint Matthew. He occupies the most prominent place and is depicted as a suffering man displaying the traces of the Passion, with the wounds on the palms of his hands and accompanied by four angels with the Arma Cristhi (the Instruments of the Passion). The angels at the cusp carry the cross and those at the sides the pillar, the whip and the nails. Christ the Judge is flanked by the crowned Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, prostrate as intercessors for humanity.

Saint Michael weighing souls is located in the central scene of the lower register. The narrative is completed on the right with the door leading to heaven and an angel guarding its passage. On crossing the threshold, a thurifer angel crowns a woman, whom some authors have identified as Saint Leocadia. Next are the elect and blessed personified in the form of a holy bishop and Saint Lawrence, identified by his grill. On the opposite side is Hell, represented by the jaws of a Leviathan devouring sinners. The damned are clutched by evil demons punishing earthly vices of greed and lust. Finally, the lintel also depicts the life and martyrdom of the Apostle James in various narrative scenes, culminating in the trial and death of the saint, his throat slit by a soldier’s sword. The entire ensemble is completed with saints on the archivolts.  


Ficha técnica

  • Author: Anonymous
  • Date: Second third of the 14th century
  • Technique: Polychrome stone carving
  • Measurements:
  • Place: Saint Mary’s Cathedral (Vitoria-Gasteiz)


AZCÁRATE RISTORI, José M.ª de. “Catedral de Santa María (catedral Vieja)”. En: PORTILLA VITORIA, Micaela J. et al. Catálogo Monumental Diócesis de Vitoria: Ciudad de Vitoria. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Obra Cultural de la Caja de Ahorros Municipal, tomo III, 1968, pp. 81-98.

LAHOZ, Lucía, “La Asunción del tímpano de la Catedral de Vitoria. Algunas consideraciones iconográficas, Cuadernos de Arte e Iconografía, t.3, nº6, 1990, pp. 5-10.

LAHOZ, Lucía, “El tímpano del Juicio Final de la catedral de Vitoria: aspectos iconográficos”, Boletín Sancho el Sabio, 4, 1994, pp. 181-200.

LAHOZ, Lucía, “Breves notas sobre un tímpano vitoriano”, Cuadernos de Sección. Artes Plásticas y Monumentales, nº 14, 1995, pp. 164-174.

GONZÁLEZ DE ZÁRATE, Jesús M. Catedral de Santa María Vitoria. Iconografía de sus tímpanos, Vitoria-Gasteiz: Gestoria Bengoa S.L., 2008.

SILVA VERÁSTEGUI, Soledad, “En torno a la portada central de la iglesia de Santa María de Vitoria (actual Catedral Vieja)”, en VÉLEZ CHAURRI, J. Javier; ECHEVARRÍA GOÑI, Pedro Luis; MARTÍNEZ DE SALINAS OCIO Felicitas (eds), Estudios de Historia del Arte en memoria de la profesora Micaela Portilla, Vitoria, 2008, pp. 55-65.

GONZÁLEZ DE ZÁRATE, Jesús M. “Catedral de Santa María Vitoria-Gasteiz. Iconografía de sus tímpanos”, Cuadernos de Arte e Iconografía, Tomo XXI, N.º 41, 1º semestre, 2012. (monográfico) 

SILVA VERÁSTEGUI, Soledad, “La controvertida portada de San Gil de la iglesia de Santa María de Vitoria”, Ars Bilduma, 5, 2013, pp. 3-31.