The monastery of San Paio de Antealtares founded in 9th century by Alfonso II was first in Santiago de Compostela. The king ordered twelve Benedictine monks to guard and look after the recently discovered Apostle reliquies. At the end of 15th century, the monastery housed the Estudio Vello de Santiago, founded by Lope Gómez de Marzoa, seed of the current University of Compostela.
The Sacred Art Museum is accessible via the monastery's church. The permanent exhibition is divided into these sections:
Smithing section, with 15th to 20th century’s pieces.
Sculpture section, with a selection of wooden and stone works. Regarding the imagery theme, the museum houses a 13th century Romanesque crucified Christ - with Gothic hints and an impressive showing of various representations of Virgin Mary, due to the special interest of Benedictine nuns in the cult of Mary.
Diplomacy section, with documents related to the monks' life and the monastery's history. The archive also hosts documentary funds, from the 10th century.
Painting sections, with a great number of religious canvases mainly devoted to the Order of Saint Benedict.
Liturgical ornaments section, with an interesting selection of chasubles, rain capes, stoles and dalmatics - mainly from 17th to 18th centuries.
Special pieces section. This section hosts the ancient altar of the Apostle James, formed by a marble altar and a semi-cylindrical food.