The Benedictine monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil has its origin in the 10th century. It was first an independent monastery and after the improvements in the 16th century, it remains today as a priory dependent on the monastery of San Esteban de Ribas de Sil. At this time the cloister was improved and the paintings in the church were made. It was one of the most important monasteries of the Ribeira Sacra during the Middle Ages, as it is shown by the vestiges of the roads that are still kept. The monks spent their time cultivating chestnut tree and the vine. The confiscation meant the total abandonment of the place.
It keeps its Romanesque church of the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th. It has a Latin cross plan. The front is made up of three semicircular apses, being the central higher than the side apses. The facade is divided into two sections. In the upper, the beautiful openwork rosette stands out. The facade is flared.
The monastery has three simple archivolts decorated with chess motifs on the trim. The decoration of the capitals is mainly vegetal. The tympanum is flat. Inside, the nave is covered with a wooden roof gable which rests on a few pointed arches resting on corbels, which are decorated with geometric shapes and balls. In the central apse the monastery keeps Renaissance wall paintings, from the 16th century. We can see on them the Virgin and San Juan, accompanied by Santo Domingo, San Antonio and St. Thomas. In the upper section, there are Saint Lucia and Santa Barbara. The Romanesque altar is kept in one of the side chapels.
Little remains from the rooms where the monks used to live. In the cloister, only two wings with arches on a continuous base of great sobriety are kept. It was carried out during the improvements of the 16th century.References:
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.