Ribeira Sacra

Along de banks of the Rivers Miño and Sil

The surprises hidden around every bend in the Ribeira Sacra provide us with infinite reasons to explore this stunning area.

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Ribeira Sacra

There are no beaten tracks and no horizons - the uniqueness of this region is found in its canyons, its many vineyards, its extraordinary lookouts, and its luscious forests peppered with the highest concentration of Romanesque art in Europe.

Over two hundred kilometres of winding roads lead us to the interior of the Lugo and Ourense provinces, allowing us to enjoy the rivers which snake along the landscape. Leaving Chantada, we come upon the tiny village of Belesar, a magical spot divided between this city council and that of O Saviñao.  There are many hiking routes in the area which follow ancient Roman roads, and you can cross the Miño to admire the majesty of certain landscapes which are only accessible by catamaran. Soon we come upon such Romanesque monuments as the churches of San Estebo de Ribas de Miño and San Martiño da Cova. At the A Cova  river beach, we can take advantage of its canoes and hiking trails. The highest point is the Mirador de Cabo do Mundo (Cabo do Mundo Lookout), which offers one of the most spectacular and well-known views of the River Miño. Because of its history and location, Monforte de Lemos became the capital of the Ribeira Sacra.  After spending the night at the service area, travellers can take a break or use the capital as starting point for some great routes to the surrounding areas.  Built across the River Cabe, you can take in the fantastic monuments such as the old quarter which surrounds the Castillo de San Vicente (San Vicente Castle), now a hotel, the Colegio del Cardenal (College of Cardinals) or the medieval Puente Viejo (Old Bridge). As an old railway  junction, the town is home to the Museo del Ferrocarril (Railway Musuem), as well as the Centro do Viño da Ribeira Sacra (Centre for Ribeira Sacra Wines) and a golf club.

Following the path of River Sil and heading south, the landscape changes as it becomes almost consumed by terraces and vineyards. There several lookouts which provide the perfect opportunity to make several stops along the way, such as Doade, where we can also hop on a catamaran, though booking in advanced is highly recommended. We now enter the province of Ourense.  Arriving at Castro Caldelas, you will find a rest area for vans.  Here we can visit the castle, the ethnographic museum, and enjoy the mountain hiking routes.  A highlight of the local cuisine is the artisanal sponge cake. There are several options we can take from here. In the east, winter sport lovers have the ski fields of Cabeza de Manzaneda.  In the south, we have the Monasterio de Montederramo (Montederramo Monastery), one of the jewels of Cistercian art in Galicia.  This monastery forms part of an extradordinary set that continues westward with Santa Crisina de Ribas de Sil Monastery, which sits at the heart of an incredible chestnut tree forest. We then come to San Pedro de Rocas, in the municipality of Esgos, which is believed to be the oldest monastic centre in Galicia and is the only one carved into natural rock.  The final monastery in the set is  San Estevo de Ribas de Sil, an enormous monasterial complex, now functioning as a hotel.

Taking our third option, heading west towards Ourense, the River Sil once again becomes our destination.  The majestic lookouts form their own route along the way.  In Parada de Sil, where we have another rest area, we can lean out over the Balcones de Madrid (The Balconies of Madrid).  A few kilometres away, and at 850 metres above sealevel, we find the Mirador de Cabezoás (Cabezoás lookout), which also has a small parking area.  To end your journey, enjoy a one and a half hour catamaran tour, sure to turn the awesomeness of the canyons into an unforgettable experience.

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