The Mediaeval town of Monforte de Lemos

The Mediaeval town of Monforte de Lemos is a fascinating and little-known small town in North West Spain, near the border of Galicia and Leon. There are dramatic river gorges nearby and wonderful Romanesque Churches all around. The historic Parador is a comfortable and atmospheric hotel and staying here for a few days is a real treat!

Today’s Monforte de Lemos was originally the site of a hill fort which the Romans called Castro Dactonio. The settlement was destroyed by the Moors in the 8C but restarted with the establishment of a Benedictine Monastery in the 9C. The Monastery of San Vicente de Pino (rebuilt in the 17C) is now the Parador on top of is probably the same hill used in pre-Roman times.

The Parador of Monforte de Lemos
The Parador of Monforte de Lemos

By Mediaeval times Monforte de Lemos was a fortified hill town with the Monastery and Castle at its heart. There were three gateways into the town, with three watchtowers giving far-reaching views over the surrounding countryside. At the bottom of the hill the River Cabe provided water for the town and its trade. I set out to try and trace the walls, gates, towers, and the Mediaeval streets.

The Castle & Monastery of San Vicente in Monforte de Lemos
The Castle of the Dukes of Lemos & Monastery of San Vicente in Monforte de Lemos
The Castle & Monastery of San Vicente in Monforte de Lemos
The Castle walls
The Castle of Monforte with the Homenaje Watchtower
The Castle of Monforte with the Homenaje Watchtower of 13C/14C
The Castle of Monforte de Lemos
The Watchtower of Homenaje in the Castle/Parador

The Gate of Alcazabar 13C was also called the Fishmongers’ Gate. An old paved road just below the Parador leads down from the Castle /Monastery/Parador to the gate. From there the Rua Santa Domingo follows the line of the walls.

The old paved road down from the Castle to the Gate of Alcazabar
The old paved road down from the Castle to the Gate of Alcazabar
13C City Gate of Alcazabar in Monforte de Lemos
13C City Gate of Alcazabar in Monforte de Lemos

At this gateway you can also find the 16C Church of Santa Maria da Regoa and from the Church I followed the Rua Abelardo Baanante down to the Square of Doctor Goyanes. There are records of Jewish families living in this area before they were pursued out of Spain. (This detailed article is fascinating and makes me wish I could go back and follow the information!) From the square the road leads to the Old Bridge of Lemos over the River Cabe. The Convent of Santa Clara, founded in 1622 by the wife of the 7th Count of Lemos (and the wonderful Museum of Sacred Art) is just beyond the bridge.

The Church of Santa Maria da Regoa, Monforte de Lemos
The Church of Santa Maria da Regoa
The Old Bridge in Monforte de Lemos
The Old Bridge in Monforte de Lemos
Convento das Clarisas de Monforte
Convento das Clarisas de Monforte

Back in the old town the Rua Santo Domingo leads to the Prison Gate. The Old Prison Gate of 13C was here in the Zapaterias Street but nothing remains.

The Rua Santa Domingo and the walls of Monforte de Lemos
The Rua Santa Domingo with the walls (L)
The Prison Tower near the 13C gate, Monforte de Lemos
The Prison Tower near the 13C gate

From the Prison Gate I followed the Rua das Flores round the side of the hill. The Rua das Flores and the Rua Falagueira are fascinating roads in an area which was historically Jewish. Little lanes lead up the hill, in what feels like countryside, to emerge at the Porta Nova. The Porta Nova is at the far end of the Rua Falagueira and was rebuilt in the late 15C by the Count of Lemos. The Synagogue was apparently situated near the Gate.

Rua das Flores Monforte de Lemos
Rua das Flores
Rua das Flores, Monforte de Lemos
Rua das Flores
Monforte de Lemos
Little lane up the hillside below the Parador
Monforte de Lemos
Path below the Porta Nova
Porta Nova, Monforte de Lemos
Porta Nova, Monforte de Lemos
The Coat of Arms of the Counts of Lemos on the Porta Nova, Monforte de Lemos
The Coat of Arms of the Counts of Lemos inside the Porta Nova

From the Porta Nova I scrambled up the hillside to arrive at yet another gate, alongside the Ducal Palace, and the Monastery/Parador.

Monforte de Lemos
Old road underneath the Parador
Ducal Palace, Monforte de Lemos
Gate alongside the Ducal Palace, Monforte de Lemos
Ducal Palace, Monforte de Lemos
The Ducal Palace alongside the Parador

I hope that you can see that this is a wonderful place to spend a few days.

Further information
The history of the Parador and the town
A brief history of the town

The Jews in Monforte
http://www.monfortedelemos.es/turismo/?q=en/monuments
http://www.monfortedelemos.es/turismo/?q=en/monuments