The area we were visiting that day, called Ribeira Sacra, is sprinkled with Christian monasteries [mosteiros] and churches [Igrexas] in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. These religious sites became commonplace during the Medieval times, along the way that leads up to Santiago de Compostela, an important Christian pilgrimage site. The route is called Camino de Santiago (St. James’ Way).
We started off with a fierce battle against the car’s sat-nav as it refused to take us to our first stop, the church of St. Michael in a tiny hamlet. I managed to trick the navigator and we arrived at the Iglesia de San Miguel de Eiré only a little later than expected. The church is small and it was built in the Romanesque style, which is common the Ribeira Sacra. The church was built in the second half of the 12th century, and has a remarkable archway. Back in the day, it belonged to a monastery.
Afterwards we backtracked to what is probably its successor – another monastery, the Monasterio Cisterciense del Divino Salvador in Ferreira, which was built in three styles – the church is Romanesque (12th century), the main building and the walls are Baroque (18th century) and the inner cloister is Renaissance (16th century). There are also two Romanesque wooden sculptures.
Then we set off towards
a salad of curves the heart of the Ribeira Sacra, the area of the River Sil where the water has excavated a deep canyon – well, ish. There was a lot of tectonic activity going on in the area a long time ago that helped the development of the river canyon, the Canón do Sil. It is dammed at the moment, which has made the river depth increase.
We had booked a “cruise” in a “catamaran” that turned out to be a plain-old boat and way too packed for my peace of mind. Fortunately everybody wore masks, we had the N-95 that protect both ways ones, and used a lot of hand sanitiser – my nails are really, really off due to the use and abuse of hand sanitiser. We sailed off the wharf Embarcadoiro do Santo Estevo and the views were pretty nice. Both the narrator and narration not so much, though the bit about the “special” vineyards perched on the canyon walls was interesting.
After a ninety-minute sail, we disembarked and took the car again to drive to the Parador de Santo Estevo to have lunch (cue stamp number three), where I tried the local beef with foie, while the rest went for the octopus.
Then we took a stroll down the Parador, which is an old monastery that has not one but three cloisters, as the Monasterio de Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil has existed since the tenth century and buildings have been added. Two of the cloisters are Renaissance and the third is Baroque / Gothic.
Finally we stopped over at the church, whose interior is late Romanesque but with a later façade (and a very Baroque altar).
And then we went back to the curves. Lots and lots of curves. The road ran along the canyon, so we stopped over at a couple of viewpoints to observe the canyons – Miradoiro de Cabezoás:
Miradoiro Balcones de Madrid:
Then we continued onto the ruins of another Romanesque Monastery, Mosteiro de Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil, with some very nice paintings and a very pretty cloister.
Afterwards we drove back up the road and we found another viewpoint Miradoriro Xariñas de Castro (a.k.a. Miradorio A Mirada Maxica) for more views of the canyon.
We continued to the monastery Mosteiro de Santa María de Montederramo, where we had booked at 19:00 but could join the 18:00 visit instead. Shifty, I know, but we were there at 18:04 and… yeah. Not really worth the wait, even though the Gothic church and cloister were neat, even if a bit unkempt.
And as we were finally driving back towards Monforte de Lemos, we came across the castle Castelo de Castro Caldelas, which was actually on the planning for the next day but we thought we would… how to put this… avoid some curve-driving if we took the stop.
All in all: 135 km driving; 6.96 km walking; around 20 km sailing; hundreds of curves.