Monastery of Santa Cristina
The monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil is located in a spectacular setting in the chestnut grove of Merilán.
The Benedictine monastery 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, as well as the one of San Vicente de Pombeiro in the village of Panton. 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.
It 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.
In the North wall, the bell tower that has certain defensive role is located. The base was a sort of phone booth. It is battlemented at the top and its roof is in the shape of a pyramid.
Making angle to the facade of the church is the main door to access the monastery. It has a single archivolt decorated with large leaves and double zigzag trim. The four evangelists are represented on the soffit of the arch: eagle (Saint John), angel (Saint Matthew), bull (Saint Luke) and lion (Saint Marcus).
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.
To reach the monastery, we must take the road beside the town hall in Parada do Sil. In about ten minutes, following the signs, we arrive at Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil.
Nearby you can visit another of the iconic monasteries of Ribeira Sacra, Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil. Nowadays, you will be amazed by its great dimensions.