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San Pedro de Rocas

San Pedro de Rocas

San Pedro de Rocas is a unique monastery, as it has been carved into rock. Rustic and extremely old – nearly primitive –...

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Ribeira Sacra

Heritage

Water was the first road in the Ribeira Sacra. Natural borders that organise the space are established along the sides of the rivers that run through the valleys. The local topography invites one to meditate, reflect and discover oneself. Perhaps this was why monastic orders took shelter here with a new life arising alongside them on the banks of the Rivers Miño and Sil.

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From the early Middle Ages until they were confiscated and privatised by the government, monasteries played a particularly important role in this part of Galicia. Monasteries and the culture that was generated around them are important today as well, because they imprinted this land with an aura that is unique in the world, and because they have come down to us today bearing witness to the past in the culture of the present.

In its landscapes, the Ribeira Sacra boasts a wonderful compendium of the remains of different periods. Prehistoric inhabitants left behind burial mounds and fortified pre-Roman Iron Age villages that have come down to us as landscapes of life from another time. Outstanding examples include the As Cabanas mámoas (dolmens) in Nogueira de Ramuín and the Candaz fortified pre-Roman Iron Age village in Chantada. But the Roman presence in these lands was also instrumental in providing them with cultural tradition and a particular aesthetic. The many examples of Roman life in the Ribeira Sacra that remain include the tradition of making olive oil in Quiroga and the most spectacular remains of their brilliant engineering, the tunnel in Montefurado which diverted the bed of the River Sil so that the gold carried by the river could be taken.
The Ribeira Sacra, however, is named after the settlement of large monasteries on the banks of the river that were the cradle of culture and spirituality of a time, and that are now this land's treasures made of stone. The Convents of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil in Parada de Sil, Santa María de Ferreira in Pantón, Santa María in Montederramo, San Pedro de Rocas in Esgos, Santa María de Xunqueira de Espadanedo and Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil in Nogueira de Ramuín are all colossal examples of religious architecture.
But churches are also part of this land's spiritual and religious landscape and are wonderful examples of art. Among the many shrines and churches worth a visit are the Churches of Santo Estevo de Atán, San Miguel de Eiré and San Fiz de Cangas in Pantón, Santa María de Pesqueiras in Chantada, San Xoán de Portomarín, San Paio de Diomondi and Santo Estevo de Ribas de Miño in O Saviñao, and the Churches of San Xoán da Cova and Santo Estevo de Chouzán in Carballedo.
One should not leave the Ribeira Sacra without visiting the places declared to be Heritage Elements of Cultural Interest: the Pazo de Taboada Historic/Artistic Complex and the Historic/Artistic Complex of the Bodegas de Vilachá in A Pobra de Brollón. Monforte de Lemos's historic centre shows how important this town was in the past. Noteworthy too are the Monastery of Nosa Señora da Antiga – also known as Colegio de la Compañía –, the monastery of San Vicente do Pino (now a state-owned hotel) and the keep of the old castle of the Counts of Lemos (now a museum).
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