I particularly wanted to see the Church of St John in Portomarin and we decided to stop there on the journey from Monforte de Lemos to Lugo. Monforte is a wonderful stop for a few days, but it was time to move on – to Lugo.
The road from Monforte, through Sarria, and on to Portomarin was pleasant but not particularly memorable. It is an easy drive and we were soon parked in the town.
Portomarin on the River Mino
Portomarin is on the River Mino and when the valley was flooded to create the Belesar Dam the town was moved higher up the hillside, rather like Riano. (The high walls and narrowness of the Mino and Sil River Canyons are ideal for hydroelectricity and the Belesar Dam, which opened in 1963, is the largest in Spain.) This protected and preserved the important churches, and one or two other historic buildings. The new bridge over the river is alongside the old bridge which is now buried under the water.
St John in Portomarin
West Door of St John in Portomarin
The highly ornate west door of the church includes columns with figured capitals, a Virgin and Child (I think) over the door, and the Apostles or Elders playing musical instruments in the arch over the doorway. I wonder if the two figures at the top of the door represent good and evil?
South Door of St John in Portomarin
This is the main door into the church and pilgrims were drifting in and out when we visited the town. Like the West Door this doorway has three recessed arches over the door, all ornately carved. The heads at the top of the door are very curious… There are three figures in the arch over the door who look like church dignitaries.
Cross country to Lugo
I had read of another Romanesque Church to the north of Portomarin. However, the maps were poor, I had not done enough research, and in the end we just drove through the countryside, across the River Mino, to Lugo.