A place to get in touch with nature
Tradition, spirituality and a lot of nature. It is in Galicia in northern Spain, and its dense forests form impressive landscapes. In the Ribeira Sacra (named a Biosphere Reserve next to the Serras do Oribio and Courel) you will find a dozen interesting medieval monasteries and one of the oldest wine productions in Spain.
The Mencía grape and its “heroic viticulture” are distinguishing features of the Ribeira Sacra designation of origin wine, which is produced in the region. The heroism refers to the vineyards on the side of cliffs. They dominate the southern slope of the Sil river, where you can visit large bodegas and the typical “colleiteiros” (small signature wine bodegas). The Wine Interpretation Centre can be found in Monforte de Lemos.
Legend states that the god Jupiter fell in love with Galicia so in order to possess it he created the Miño river to run through it. His wife Juno became jealous and wanted to punish the surprisingly beautiful Galicia so she seriously wounded it. The result was the spectacularly deep Sil Canyon (last 25 kilometres of the river until the estuary of the Miño river). That is how the enormous vertical gorges and canyons of the Ribeira Sacra were made by the Gods.
In this area you will find largest concentration of Romanesque churches in Europe. Some of the best examples include the churches of San Paio de Diomondi, Santo Estevo de Atán, San Miguel de Eiré and San Fiz de Cangas. If you visit the Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil and the Santo Estevo monasteries, which can also be stayed in as it is a Parador Hotel, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Sil valley. Tours of the College of the Piarist Fathers (in Monforte de Lemos and which displays two of el Greco’s paintings) and the Santa María de Montederramo Monastery are also recommended.
Enormous cliffs with stunning panoramic views of nature. Some of the better-known spots are the Balcones de Madrid (where you can see the valley of the Sil river), the Castro Caldelas viewpoint (which looks over a beautiful part of the same river), the Chantada Lighthouse (with views of the entire Ribeira Sacra in Lugo and most of the Ourense part) and the Cabo do Mundo (an enormous meander in the Miño river which can be seen from the hillside).
Views from the river
Travelling by catamaran along the Miño and Sil rivers is probably one of the most spectacular ways to discover the Ribeira Sacra. The main feature along the Miño river is the vineyards and the Sil river is known for the steep landscape around it.
An almost magical landscape that is perfect for finding peace. The ancient Celtic culture regarded these forests as sacred, and monks and hermits have sought refuge and meditation in these parts. It is easy to understand why when you walk through the forests full of thousand-year-old chestnut and oak trees and discover the remote landscapes along the edge of the Mao river, close to its estuary with the Sil river, or if you climb up to the spectacular viewpoints.
Or when the greens of the Ribeira Sacra turn into ochre and orange tones, providing a completely different view. The change in landscape is most notable among the vineyards on the edge of the Miño river and in the Sierra de San Mamede.