The Ourense Provincial Archaeological Museum occupies the building that was the Bishop’s Palace. It is one of the best preserved civil monumental ensembles in Romanesque style, and was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1931. Its structure is a faithful testimony of the development of the city, with Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern elements. Its construction began in the 12th century and played an important role in the medieval urban organization.
The site was already occupied in Roman times, as evidenced by the discovered building remains, and subsequently by a high-medieval necropolis.
The present building was built in the 12th century, and its main façade is now, after many reforms in the surroundings, a Romanesque courtyard. Over the centuries it underwent modifications and extensions that altered its general appearance. So, the added elements are Gothic (tower of Santa Maria), Renaissance (garden galleries), Baroque (the main entrance) and modern (arcades in Bispo Carrascosa street).
The Archaeological Museum, founded in 1895, finally settled in this building in 1951, undergoing a restoration, according to a project by Pons Sorolla in 1960-1968.
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.