La Ribeira Sacra

                     November 2003

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t is known as Ribeira Sacra the zone extending from Castro Caldelas to Ourense along the southern margin of the river Sil up to the confluence with the river Miño. It forms the natural limit that separates the provinces of Lugo and Ourense.

    This name is due to the great concentration of monasteries which settled in this zone between the 10th and the 12th centuries and organised the religious, economic and social life of this region. Several monasteries are actually in ruins while others have been restored recently.

    The landscape is covered by vegetation extending across deciduous forests in valleys and rocky gorges where monks retired to devote themselves to sermon, pray and holy sacrifice.

View of the river Sil from Casa dos Castiñeiros.

The river Sil as seen from Casa dos Castiñeiros

    In this trip we followed road OU-536 from Ourense to Vilariño Frio where a local road northwards led us up to Parada de Sil. 

(See Map)

    Among several options we lodged in Casa dos Castiñeiros located in a small place called Rabacallos, at the edge of the river Sil near to Parada de Sil.



       Close to Parada de Sil we find the Monastery Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil, of uncertain origin though it is documented in the 9th century as belonging to the Benedictine Order. It gave us the impression of being abandoned. Monastery Santa Cristina. de Ribas de Sil. Lateral view of the apse.

            Lateral view of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil

              Entrance to the church
      Entrance to the church

    Interior fo the apse. Click in the altar to enlarge
      Interior of the apse

Typical ceramics          Click on the altar to see the paintings of the apse        


       Niñodaguía's pottery preserves a traditional earthenware adapted to an ornamental use. Using clay of a white tone found in this zone, the craftsmen obtain pieces that they varnish later in yellow tones. They are very valued pieces.

Typical ceramics of Niñodaguia 

        Following westward the left margin of the River Sil a scenic road led us to the Monastery Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil.

(See map).


Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil

       The monastery was under restoration, so we had to see it from the surroundings, without having access to it.

      This Benedictine Monastery was founded with origins that date back to the 6th century.
The monastery was under restoration... we could not get inside to visit it.

Different views from the surroundings of the Monastery Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil under restoration.


      Contemplating the breathtaking canyons of the river Sil, and after a trip in a catamaran, eventually we arrived at the dam that holds back the waters before they pour into the river Miño. 

(See map)

The dam of the river Sil

           Dam of the river Sil near its union with the river Miño

Canyons of the river Sil


Catamaran trip

Some interesting links:

In English

The Canyon of the River Sil  The Banks of the River Sil 

The Sacred Bank   Tourist guide

In Spanish

La Ribeira Sacra Guía turística de Galicia

PDT Ribeira Sacra Plan de Dinamización Turística

Románico en la Ribeira Sacra Guía de arte románico