The Botafumeiro

The Botafumeiro (“censer” in Galician) is one of the most famous and popular symbols of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It hangs by means of a system of pulleys from the main dome of the Cathedral and swings toward the side naves. It takes eight men, who are known as “tiraboleiros”.  To swing it. It weighs 53 kg and measures 1.50 metres; hanging from a height of 20 metres it picks up great speed. A spectacle to witness.

The purpose of this great censer is to symbolise the true attitude of the believer; In the same way that the smoke from the incense rises to the top of the temple’s naves, so must the prayers of the pilgrims rise to reach the heart of God, and in the same manner that the aroma of the incense perfumes the entire basilica, so must Christians, with their virtues and the testimony of their lives, impregnate with the good scent of Christ, the society that they live in.

The Botafumeiro is swung quite regularly and regardless of your religious status is a sight to behold, a ritual that holds a special place in the heart of Cristian Pilgrims who have walked the Camino. As a part of the Camino Community you are bound to be moved by the ceremony.


The Botafumeiro operates during the following Solemnities (formal, social ceremonies)

  • The Epiphany: 6 January
  • Resurrection Sunday
  • The Apparition of the Apostle-Clavijo: 23 May
  • Pentecost
  • The Martyrdom of Saint James: 25 July
  • The Assumption of Mary: 15 August
  • All Saints: 1 November
  • Christ the King
  • The Immaculate Conception: 8 December
  • Christmas: 25 December
  • Transfer of the remains of the Apostle: 30 December


The Botafumeiro can also operate for pilgrims that have duly requested it from the Cathedral. To reserve the Botafumeiro write an email to:


NOTE: Due to restoration works inside the Cathedral, until further notice, there will be no Botafumeiro ceremony.