We Visit The Monastery Of Santa Cristina De Ribas De Sil

We visit the monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil

The Galician province of Ourense has one of the most beautiful natural heritages in Spain. To this are added a huge number of monasteries and churches that were built during the Middle Ages and even before. Among all of them, the set of sanctuary and retreat formed by the monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil is one of the most spectacular.

The charm of the monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil

This monastery is located in the beautiful and relaxed town of Parada de Sil and was built between the 12th and 13th centuries. It is one of the most striking and interesting constructions in the area, since it is, perhaps, the best example of rural architecture of the Romanesque artistic trend, but wisely mixed with dyes of the early 13th century Gothic style, which eventually settled definitely in Spain in the fourteenth century.

Monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil
Monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil – Migel

This magnificent monastery was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest by the Xunta de Galicia in 2008. A construction highly influenced by the surrounding landscape. Its location, hidden in the middle of the extensive grove of the Merilán chestnut grove, makes it a magical space and it could even be said that mystical .

Despite its relative remoteness, the banks of the Sil can be heard constantly on our way to the resort. The tourist will have the opportunity to reach it by means of several winding roads and paths barely reached by the sun’s rays due in large part to the lushness of this green orchard.

Monastery of Santa María de Ribas de Sil
Monastery of Santa María de Ribas de Sil – GFreihalter / commons.wikimedia.org

Other masterpieces worth visiting are hidden in its surroundings, such as the Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil monastery, just 20 kilometers away. It is also advisable to approach the small balcony over the mountainous canyons of the region formed by the viewpoint of the Balcones de Madrid, in Santa Mariña.

A little history

At first, the monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil  was built at the end of the 10th century by an order of medieval Benedictine monks with the sole interest of staying away from the worldly bustle outside and dedicating their lives to prayer and mysticism. However, what was considered a hermitage, soon ended up being transformed into the cloister whose ruins still remain today.

Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil
Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil – José Antonio Gil Martínez / Flickr.com

However, despite the extensions suffered during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the passage of time caused the monastery of Santa Cristina de Sil to lose both supporters and funding and, therefore, fell out of favor. Even so, after its closure in the 19th century, the priory decided to keep it standing due to its architectural and historical value.

Santa Cristina today

Despite being a semi-dilapidated and abandoned space, at present  both the exterior area that surrounds the monastery and the interior of it can be the object of tourist visits, as it remains open from Tuesday to Sunday. The entrance fee is quite cheap.

Monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil
Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil – José Antonio Gil Martínez / commons.wikimedia.org

Once inside we will have the opportunity to enter its church, that is, its oldest part since there is evidence of its existence in the area in documents dating from the 10th century. Its central nave has the classic transept, as well as several semicircular apses. It should be remembered that this was not its original presentation and that it was renovated three centuries after its construction in order to adapt it more to the predominant style during the 14th century, the Gothic.

For the rest, it should be noted that the monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil also has an enigmatic and beautiful bell tower. As for the medieval area, the cloister also stands out, as well as the communication area between it and the places of prayer. And on its walls there are still some other frescoes painted at that time.

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