Santa María de Montederramo's origins seem to have been the old Church of San Juan, which grew into a monastery. It was founded as a Cistercian monastery by Doña Teresa, Alfonso VII´s daughter, in 1142, bringing French nuns from Claraval. Other writers refer to it as Cistercian in the year 1153, when it adopted the worship of St. Mary.
In the year 1528, it joined the Cistercian Congregation, in Spain, with the building´s reconstruction beginning at that time, including the church, with most of the work taking place during the 16th century. The slender church stands on a Latin-cross ground plan, with three aisles in five sections along the main arm; side arms marked on the ground floor, five rectangular chapels, the central the main one. The aisles have Ogival, ribbed vaults, with lunettes and coffering. In the transept, there is a dome over pendentives with cupola. The facade flay and austere. The church was begun in the year 1598, with Juan de Tolosa as master-architect, from the Company of Jesus, and creator of the Hospital of Medina del Campo, in addition to other builders. Construction work ended in the year 1607, inscreibed on the facade.
The monastery has two cloisters, the oldest of which is in evolved Ogival style, square, with five semi-circular arches per side and nine-pointed star-vaults; the upper part has Renaissance and Baroque arches and windows. The second cloister is square, elegant, with four semi-circular arches per side over free-standing Renaissance columns, and sculpted medallions and shields, all dating from the 16th century. It also has a large, monumental stairway down to the church and a fine sacristy.The regular or processional cloister is connected to the church. In the early 1980s this area was rescued from a state of ruin, and once restored it began to be used as a school.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.