Hidden Spain: Ribeira Sacra, the Secret of the Monks

Hidden Spain: Ribeira Sacra, the Secret of the Monks

A deep gorge crosses the land. On the prime, Romanesque monasteries watch the horizon and a bunch of viewpoints supply magnificent views. Trying down, oaks, chestnuts and vineyards cowl the stepped hillsides.

The whole lot in Ribeira Sacra invitations one to breathe, chill out and really feel alive.

Let me present you why Ribeira Sacra is a candidate to be listed as Cultural Panorama World Heritage, and an ideal future for a retreat journey.   

It’s one of many much less identified stunning locations in Spain.

A Capela viewpoint at Ribeira Sacra, Spain.
A Capela viewpoint at Ribeira Sacra, Spain.

Ribeira Sacra means the sacred banks of the river. In truth, the magic of this land turns round 2 important rivers: Miño and Sil.

River Sil carves throughout its final 35 kms granite partitions as deep as 600 Mts in some areas. Then, it runs into River Miño, close to Os Peares.  The pure drive of river Sil is soothed by a couple of dams, making nice boat journeys doable – a beautiful method to uncover the canyon. 

An entire route within the area ought to embody: monasteries, viewpoints and nature, vineyards, conventional cities and native delicacies.

What number of days? Take into account at the least 5.  

The Viewpoints to admire Ribeira Sacra

We will rely at the least 36 superb viewpoints the place to admire the Ribeira Sacra.

They’re distributed all alongside the 2 important rivers: Miño and Sil.

It may take you some time to cease at each viewpoint, that’s why it’s a good suggestion to select a bunch of them, particularly in case you are visiting Ribeira Sacra for a brief time frame.

These ones under are my favorite ones: 

Pena do Castelo Viewpoint
Pena do Castelo Viewpoint
  • Cabo do Mundo and Cabezoás, the primary one above essentially the most well-known meander of River Miño, the second watching one other meander, of river Sil, on this case.
  • Pena do Castelo, A Capela and As Penas de Matacá, exhibiting one of the best views over the cultivated terraces and the river. 
  • And the stylish ones: O bambán do Solpor and the one in Terra Brava Wineries. These are two swings with views, a delight for instagramers and bloggers. The one in Terra Brava Wineries is the one non-public one, solely accessible as a part of the go to to the wine cellars. 

And the factors of view

What number of locations did you go to from totally different heights? You are able to do that on Ribeira Sacra! 

From prime to backside: 

Hot Air Balloon at Ribeira Sacra in Spain.
Sizzling Air Balloon at Ribeira Sacra in Spain. Picture credit score: aerotours
  • Fly over the vineyards, with the dawn as a witness. Bounce right into a sizzling air balloon and float over the panorama. There are three corporations providing this unimaginable expertise that may take you on a flight for about an hour. 
  • Drive up and down alongside the mountains, stopping on the viewpoints and immersing within the surroundings. 
  • Get a ship trip. Navigate the water of River Sil, or Miño. A pleasing journey amongst damns will likely be excellent at sundown. Firms function at one and different aspect of the principle rivers. 

The monasteries round Ribeira Sacra

The world is taken into account the principle focus of rural romanesque in Europe, with 85 romanesque monasterios, 18 of which you’ll be able to go to.

Why so many, and what was the aim of constructing them?

The fertile lands, the thriller, retreat and peace of the world attracted monastic orders from the start of Cristianity. We will now comply with their footprints looking for the identical pleasure in such a serene retreat.

Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil, Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil and San Pedro de Rocas are essentially the most exceptional monasteries, the “should see” of the area.

Santo Estevo is positioned within the coronary heart of Ribeira Sacra, and was one of the crucial highly effective monasteries within the space: 9 bishops determined to spend their final days in it.

It preserves a baroque façade, a church with a romanesque apse and three cloisters of various intervals: Renaissance, Romanesque and Gothic. The monastery is these days an opulent resort (it belongs to the distinguished Spanish Paradores inns chain), the place you possibly can ultimately keep. 

Ebook at evening at Santa Estevo right here.

Monastery of Santa Cristina De Ribas de Sil

Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil is a type of magic locations that may stay in your reminiscences. Surrounded by a chestnut forest, this monastery, constructed on the newest XI century, stands above a meander of Sil river.

San Pedro de Rocas (Saint Peter of the Rocks), it appears like being smelt on the rocks. It was in all probability one of many first locations have been the lonely lifetime of eremites grew to become a group life. 

The vineyards in Ribeira Sacra

Ribeira Sacra lives with and for the wine. The Romans discovered gold in these lands, however left us one thing in change. They in all probability mixed the indigenous grapevines with the mediterranean ones, acquiring higher vines. What’s extra, it’s stated that the Caesars demanded these wines. The custom continued with the monks bettering and selling the wine exercise, cultivating tough items of land, at angles of 50 to 85%. A few of them are nonetheless solely accesible by boat. Wine cultivation grew to become the financial supply in these occasions, what nonetheless is. 

To go to a Ribeira Sacra vineyard is completely needed to know the lifestyle of the locals. There are lots of small wine cellars, household companies, distributed within the three wine areas: Amandi, Ribeira do Miño and Ribeira do Sil.

Simply decide one (or two, or three), and let your senses go. 

The normal cities of Ribeira Sacra

Are there huge cities within the space? Happily not, so tranquility is assured. However there are three cities and a metropolis it’s best to go to.

Monforte de Lemos

Being node of rails, made Monforte a metropolis. It’s positioned within the geographical heart of Ribeira Sacra, a good selection to remain in and plan day journeys from there. Don’t go away town with out strolling alongside River Cabe and discovering the Galician Escorial: Nuestras Señora de la Antigua, the previous citadel and the Tower preserve.


Portomarín is a crucial village on the Method of St. James. I exploit to say that the Method works because the railway for rural cities: it makes life to flourish. Folks open small eating places, inns, retailers. Some cities and villages appeared throughout the Center Ages due to the Method.

However, listen: the Portomarin you possibly can go to these days, that’s the brand new city. The previous one is submerged underneath the waters of the reservoir. The primary buildings, together with the church of St. John, have been beforehand moved, stone by stone, to its new location. 



A standard city with some romanesque treasures. The primary sq. is surrounded by conventional homes with picket balconies and porches. If you’re fortunate sufficient to go to Chantada on a Fairy day, 5 or 21 of each month, you can be immersed in an genuine expertise: the market as within the previous occasions.

A bunch of romanesque church buildings will full the go to: the church buildings of San Salvador of Asma, Santa María of Pesqueiras, or Santa María of Nogueira. 

Castro Caldelas watches River Edo from the highest of a hill. To succeed in the citadel, positioned within the heart of the village, you’ll have to stroll up winding cobbled streets misplaced in time. And as soon as once more, really feel fortunate to be right here. 

The character in Ribeira Sacra

You’ll quickly uncover that Ribeira Sacra is a paradise for ramblers.

There are lots of unimaginable strolling trails within the space. You’ll be able to comply with anybody close to your resort, however I want to suggest three ones: 

The River Mao canyon path
  • Santa Cristina Path (you could find it as PR-G 98), round, with nice views of the river Sil canyon and cultural patrimony. 
  • Belesar vineyards path ( PR-G 183), straightforward and quick path crossing vineyards. 
  • River Mao canyon path (PR-G 177), my favorite path. Round path that calls for some effort, however is totally price it. 

The delicacies

Gastro vacationers may select Ribeira Sacra solely as a gastro vacation spot, and be gratefully shocked by the standard and number of the native dishes and wines. However even in case you are not a gastro vacationer, you will want to eat between one outing and one other. 

Octopuss a Feira, or Galician Type

Meat lovers could be in so luck right here. Very best quality pork (shoulders, ham, chorizo), veal (T-bone steak, sirloin), goat meat, huge and small sport searching are supplied on its tables. Naturally, all of those meats, often roasted, pair completely with the native crimson wines of Ribeira Sacra.

Should you get pleasure from fish, trout’s are caught domestically, however there’s additionally a deep custom to eat European eel and octopus A Feira (Galician model). 

Locals collect wonderful mushrooms and chestnuts within the forests and put together scrumptious garnishes with them. Chestnuts are a typical ingredient within the dessert recipe books, generally mixed with honey and cheese. 

Strive Bica de Trives or Bica de Castro Caldelas. Bica is a standard moist sponge cake ready with pork butter. You’ll be able to have it as a breakfast or as a dessert, going with espresso liquor – an historical custom within the space. 

Sleep with the serenity of a monk

There’s an incredible vary of unconventional lodging in Ribeira Sacra. 

What about sleeping in a former monastery? Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil is a spectacular former monastery reconverted right into a four stars resort.

Parador Santo Estevo, Ribeira Sacra, Spain.
Parador Santo Estevo, Ribeira Sacra, Spain.

Or in a vineyard? Rectoral de Anllo presents the likelihood to chill out surrounded by vineyards.

Or in a former rectory? Reitoral de Chandrexa is an ecological cozy rural hostel, with solely three bedrooms. 

Moreover, there are many rural genuine lodging, a variety the place to select.

Ribeira Sacra is without doubt one of the most full locations. Skilled travellers will nonetheless discover it astonishing. It can go away you with a full abdomen, a smile in your lips and a happy coronary heart. I promise. It occurs to me each time I go to.

In search of extra distinctive locations to go to in Spain? Take a look at these posts:

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