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:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.