San Estevo de Ribas de Sil is spectacular! The Monastery which was first established before the 10C and stands isolated on a steep hillside above the River Sil. It is the area known as the Ribeira Sacra, a countryside of steep river gorges and numerous Romanesque Churches and Monasteries and quite close to Monforte de Lemos.
The Mino and Sil Gorges
The Mino River flows south and west in this part of Spain, soon becoming the border with Portugal. The river gorge is steep and covered with forests, vineyards, and small villages.
At Os Peares the Sil River joins the Mino River.
We only saw a little of the Sil River Gorge because the roads were a nightmare – narrow (one car wide) and winding, and often with a sheer drop to one side. And if you have vertigo you don’t want to drive here!
The Monastery of San Estevo de Ribas de Sil
A Monastery was established on this site before the 10C – records only start in 921 but the buildings were in place by then. Tradition says a monastery was founded in the 6C by San Martino de Dumio. This was a Benedictine Monastery. The Church is Romanesque but the facade is 16C/17C
Inside the Church it is dark and austere, and very still. The opulent altarpiece by Juan Anges is 16C
Inside San Estevo de Ribas de Sil
As you walk through the main door of the Monastery the largest of three cloisters lies ahead. This is the Knights’ Cloister of the 16C.
The smallest cloister is the kitchen cloister and was built in 1595.
The Bishops’ Cloister is on two levels: the lower level is Romanesque and the upper floor is Renaissance.
The Ribeira Sacra is a fascinating area to which I could happily return, and San Estevo de Ribas de Sil is a quite extraordinary Romanesque (and later) Monastery!
A trip from Chantada to Belesar along the Mino River Gorge
The Ribeiro Sacra