School of Our Lady of la Antigua


In the field Campo de la Compañía, in the heart of the town, we find one of the most emblematic buildings of Monforte de Lemos: the School of Nuestra Señora La Antigua, the most valuable legacy left by the Society of Jesus in Galicia.

The School was founded by the cardinal Don Rodrigo de Castro, son of the 3rd Countess of Lemos Mrs. Beatriz Castro and Álvaro Osorio. Work began in 1593 and ended in 1913 after the picture Adoration of the Magi by the painter Van der Goes was sold.

Don Rodrigo created a great center of learning in Monforte and thought that it should be run by the Jesuits, and dedicated to Nuestra Señora de La Antigua, who he was very devoted to.

The building is Renaissance Herrera style design, with a large temple in the center and two lateral parts completely symmetrical. The facade is made of local granite and is 110 meters high. Crowning the facade are the coat of arms of Spain and the coat of arms of the cardinal.  It is known as the "Galician Escorial".

It keeps interesting works inside. The breadth of the staircase stands out, made of compact granite with steps of one piece, which barely show signs of the years. It was possibly built between 1594 and 1603. It consists of three sections, without visible support in the central one, which is supported by a set of forces acting on strong walls.

The cloister is Doric-Romanesque style. The lower body is open, covered with groin vault and presents rosettes at the intersections of the ribs. Upper body consists of a closed gallery. In the central arches are four coats of arms relating to the history of the building.

The church is a Jesuit style and is inspired by the Gesù in Rome. It has a Latin cross with underdeveloped arms in the transept. Here is located a semicircular dome with a roof lantern. In its four supports you can see four polychrome angels holding in one hand the coat of arms of the Cardinal and the other the anagram with the name of Jesus. The dome and lantern suffered damage by the passage of time and, above all, because of the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.

The altarpiece, dedicated to the Virgin Mary was begun by the Galician sculptor Francisco Moure and completed by his son, since the sculptor died before finishing the work. The image of the Virgin de la Antigua chairs the altarpiece.

At the front, looking to the altarpiece, the tomb of Cardinal, attributed to the sculptor Juan de Bologna lies.

The pulpit is of Renaissance style and was possibly designed by the own Francisco Moure, although the work was carried out by his son. It rests on a beautiful eagle and in its outline are the four doctors of the church.

In one of the side chapels we find a work of important value: Santo Cristo, the work of the Italian sculptor Valerio Cioli, made in marble. It was commissioned by Felipe II to the church of El Escorial, but he didn't like much considering it too muscular and gave it to the Cardinal for their friendship.

In the next chapel is the copy of the picture of the Adoration of the Magi by Van der Goes, sold the original to finish school at the beginning of the 20th century to the Berlin Museum.

The old sacristy of the church, work of 1699, houses the museum. It keeps interesting works as two paintings by El Greco and five tables attributed to the workshop of the Italian painter Andrea de el Sarto, as well as objects that belonged to the cardinal himself.

Today the building is still a school, managed by the Piarists Fathers and the patronage of the House of Alba, heiress in the 18th century of the County of Lemos.

You could enjoy a virtual visit clicking here

Don't miss!

En Monforte también podemos visitar la Torre del Homenaje del Castillo, así como acercarnos a los múltiples puntos de interés en sus alrededores. 

Nuestra Señora de la Antigua

Information and contact


Campo da Compañía, 50

Monforte de Lemos

27400 Lugo

Opening times
Visitas con reserva previa. Contacto: 687 359 008 / 667 925 072.
No habrá visitas entre el 15 de enero y el 1 de febrero de 2024.
A consultar.

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