Hidden Spain: Ribeira Sacra, the Secret of the Monks

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

Every part in Ribeira Sacra invitations one to breathe, loosen up 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 recognized stunning locations in Spain.

A Capela viewpoint at Ribeira Sacra, Spain.

Ribeira Sacra means the sacred banks of the river. In actual fact, the magic of this land turns round 2 primary 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 number of dams, making nice boat journeys doable – a beautiful solution to uncover the canyon. 

A whole route within the area ought to embrace: monasteries, viewpoints and nature, vineyards, conventional cities and native delicacies.

What number of days? Take into account not less than 5.  

The Viewpoints to admire Ribeira Sacra

We are able to depend not less than 36 superb viewpoints the place to admire the Ribeira Sacra.

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

It may take you some time to cease at each viewpoint, that’s why it’s a good suggestion to choose a bunch of them, particularly if you’re visiting Ribeira Sacra for a brief time period.

These ones beneath are my favorite ones: 

Pena do Castelo Viewpoint
Pena do Castelo Viewpoint
  • Cabo do Mundo and Cabezoás, the primary one above probably 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, displaying the perfect 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 personal 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 high to backside: 

Hot Air Balloon at Ribeira Sacra in Spain.
Scorching 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 scorching air balloon and float over the panorama. There are three firms providing this unbelievable 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 experience. Navigate the water of River Sil, or Miño. A nice journey amongst damns will probably be good at sundown. Firms function at one and different facet of the primary rivers. 

The monasteries round Ribeira Sacra

The realm is taken into account the primary 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 realm attracted monastic orders from the start of Cristianity. We are able to now observe 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 probably the most outstanding monasteries, the “should see” of the area.

Santo Estevo is positioned within the coronary heart of Ribeira Sacra, and was some of the 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 durations: Renaissance, Romanesque and Gothic. The monastery is these days an expensive resort (it belongs to the celebrated Spanish Paradores resorts chain), the place you’ll be able to finally keep. 

Guide at night time at Santa Estevo here.

Monastery of Santa Cristina De Ribas de Sil

Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil is a kind of magic locations that may stay in your recollections. 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 turned a neighborhood 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 alternate. 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 turned the financial supply in these occasions, what nonetheless is. 

To go to a Ribeira Sacra vineyard is totally essential to know the way of life of the locals. There are various small wine cellars, household companies, distributed within the three wine areas: Amandi, Ribeira do Miño and Ribeira do Sil.

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

The standard cities of Ribeira Sacra

Are there huge cities within the space? Fortuitously 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 situated within the geographical middle 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 fortress and the Tower maintain.


Portomarín is a vital 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. Individuals open small eating places, resorts, retailers. Some cities and villages appeared throughout the Center Ages due to the Method.

However, listen: the Portomarin you’ll be able to go to these days, that’s the brand new city. The previous one is submerged beneath the waters of the reservoir. The principle 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 principle sq. is surrounded by conventional homes with wood 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 achieve the fortress, positioned within the middle of the village, you’ll must 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 various unbelievable strolling trails within the space. You may observe 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), simple and brief 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 stunned by the standard and number of the native dishes and wines. However even if you’re 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 looking are provided on its tables. Naturally, all of those meats, normally roasted, pair completely with the native purple wines of Ribeira Sacra.

In the event you take pleasure in fish, trout’s are caught domestically, however there’s additionally a deep custom to eat European eel and octopus A Feira (Galician type). 

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

Attempt Bica de Trives or Bica de Castro Caldelas. Bica is a conventional moist sponge cake ready with pork butter. You may 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 may be 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 provides the chance to loosen up surrounded by vineyards.

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

In addition to, there are many rural genuine lodging, a variety the place to choose.

Ribeira Sacra is likely one of the most full locations. Skilled travellers will nonetheless discover it astonishing. It should 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.

Searching for extra distinctive locations to go to in Spain? Try these posts:

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