Church of San Xoán

Portomarín, Spain

The Church of San Xoán (or Saint John) of Portomarín is an unusual Late Romanesque temple as it is designed to be both a church and a castle and so has architectural characteristics of both buildings. As a church it has one barrel vaulted nave, a semicircular apse and all the typical decorations of Romanesque churches; these include a carved portal with archivolts, rose windows and carved capitals. As a castle its perimeter is surrounded by merlons, it has four defense towers (one at each corner) while behind it lies an adarve, a defensive street. The north west tower currently has a stork's nest with two young (2011). The church was relocated to its current position from the valley in the 1960s when the river was flooded to form a reservoir.

It is situated on the principal route of the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, where other Templar and Knight Hospitaller churches and castles were constructed as a result of the effort of the Hospital Orders to protect the way to the tomb of Santiago; others include the churches of Torres del Río, Eunate and the Castle of Ponferrada.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mark Auchincloss (12 months ago)
Also called San Juan Church it's Romanesque originating from 12/13th Century inspired by Portico de la Gloria. It was relocated (each stone is numbered which you can see if you look carefully) along with alot of the town during Franco era ds they could dam the valley of River Miño.
KB Raif MD (2 years ago)
Impressive castle like looking church from the 1300’s. It’s amazing that they moved it stone by stone to the new Portomarín. If only the walls could talk.
Mike McBride (2 years ago)
Interesting church with a very interesting history as it was moved to enable the construction of a reservoir
Zeglar “Zeg” Fergus (2 years ago)
Relocated and restored when the flooded town was moved. The temple forms the imposing heart of Portomarín overlooking Praza Conde Fenosa.
Billy Coman (2 years ago)
On Camino way from Sarria to Santiago. this was best restaurant by far. food and choice and presentation superb. The saffron boiled potatoes not to be missed. a wonderful dining experience here
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The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.

The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.

The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.

The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.

Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.

The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.