San Esteban Monastery

Nogueira de Ramuín, Spain

The monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil is one of the most prominent and spectacular of the rich monumental heritage of Galicia. It was built between the 12th and 18th centuries.

According to most ancient tradition, Santo Estevo was founded in the 6th century by Saint Martín Dumiense. With the privilege of Ordoño II, issued on 12th October of the year 921, the documented history about this monastery begins. The King gave to the Abbot Franquila the ruined and abandoned territory of San Esteban, with its groves, fishing and river banks, to build a basilica and monastery there.

Architecture

The Church has a basilica-shaped floor plan, spacious and proportioned. It preserves the Romanesque front with three apses, being the central smaller than the sides, an unusual case in the Galician Romanesque. The facade of the church is from the 16th century or the beginning of the 17th. At the top there is a simple oculus that light up the interior and has a niche within we can see the image of San Esteban.

Inside the temple, the altarpiece of the chapel is a Renaissance work carried out by de Juan Angés in the 16th century. Among all scenes represented, we highlight in the lower section a double scene of the martyrdom of a man and a woman, which is identified with the double scene of scourging of San Vicente and Santa Cristina, as a tribute to the two added abbeys, San Vicente de Pombeiro and Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil.

On one side of the transept of the church you can see a unique stone altarpiece difficult to date, since some authors place it in the 12th century and others in the 13th. It is a piece made in granite, long rectangular shape with gabled top, quite unusual for that time. It represents Christ in Majesty with the twelve Apostles.

The facade of the monastery is of Baroque style, built in 1736. We can see two images of saints of the order between columns: San Benito and San Vicente. On top of these, two coats of arms. To the left, the one of the monastery with the nine mitres which resemble the nine bishops. On the right, that of the Congregation of Castile. The imperial one of Charles V finishes off the collection.

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Details

Founded: 921 AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain

More Information

turismo.ribeirasacra.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Alba Lorenzo Barros (5 months ago)
The place is beautiful, but since it is now a parador and due to COVID, you cannot visit beyond the patio and the gallery of the cafeteria, which by the way, we tried to have a coffee and the attention was terrible, in the end we left without having anything . It is a very typical place in the Ribera Sacra and is a mandatory stop. Impressive how big it is. Access is not complicated, it has parking right in front of it, so you can drive down to the door.
María Del Mar Diaz (5 months ago)
I have been fortunate to see it when it was in ruins and now with the restoration completed. I love what they have done with it. They have respected the essence and the history of the place, valuing each piece, each anecdote, each corner ... The result is perfectly in tune with the surroundings and the attention in the restaurant is 10. I have not enjoyed the accommodation, but the options of Tourism that they offer to residents at the entrance seems fabulous. A merit of Paradores that must be recognized and valued.
Urszula (2 years ago)
Large convent converted into hotel, you can still visit the inferior for free, very nice.
Pilar Alvarez Ortega (2 years ago)
Ml
Dorel Grigore (2 years ago)
Very well refurbished! Good restaurant, high price.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.