ROUTE SAN ESTEVO – LUINTRA (PR G-178)
MONDAY, MAY 13
Maquino Largaño means “long path” in barallete, the guild jargon used by former sharpeners to communicate with each other. The Monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil, whose origin is the sixth and seventh centuries, is one of the monumental jewels of the Ribeira Sacra. During this route through the municipality of Nogueira de Ramuín, of great ethnographic value, we will visit dense forests of century-old chestnut trees, among which we will discover, again and again, vestiges of human presence from prehistory, such as the Necropolis da Moura.
+680 m, -515 m slope
the path of bitterness
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Luintra is the capital of the municipality of Nogueira de Ramuín. From the Statue of the Sharpener of its square we begin the route of Maquino Largaño that will take us through beautiful landscapes of this Ribeira Sacra.
Maquino Largaño means “long road” in barallete, own jargon that contains more than 1000 words and was used by different guilds (sharpeners, boatmen, locksmiths and ropes) to understand each other without the others knowing what they were talking about. These sharpeners roamed all Galicia with its inseparable wheel, sharpening all kinds of utensils and blowing the typical chiflo, a wooden instrument similar to a whistle that warned of its presence.
In the square of Luintra we can also see the Church of Santa Olaia, recently built. We leave Luintra in the direction of Mundín, along wide paths (carriozas) that will accompany us throughout the stage. This first part barely has slopes and you walk very well under the shade that the oak trees give us until we reach Pombar, which we cross through its main street admiring the different constructions such as the granaries or the laundry room.
From Pombar starts the Camino de Santo Estevo, which descends quite steeply towards the monastery. Before beginning the descent, we take the derivation that brings us closer to the Mirador do Castro, from which we have a wonderful panorama of the monastery and its privileged location among the forests of the banks of the Sil River. The old cobbled road was “concreted” in recent times and today the gravel is already half damaged. Which leads us to think that when a stone path has been there for hundreds of years, it will be for something. We arrived in this way through the village of San Estevo, with narrow streets and stone houses, to the monastery.
San Estevo de Ribas de Sil is one of the most important monasteries in Galicia. It is believed that an Eremitic community existed prior to the 10th century, but the first written reference dates back to 921, when King Ordoño II authorizes Abbot Franquila to rebuild the abandoned territory of San Esteban and gives him numerous possessions. Between the 10th and 11th centuries, 9 bishops retired here, who were buried in the today called Cloister of Bishops and whose rings were venerated as a relic.
In the 12th century, under the Benedictine order, it became the main monastery in the area and one of the largest in Galicia. However, from the thirteenth century enters a stage of decline until the early sixteenth century, with the Benedictine reform that almost completely eliminated its medieval state. At the end of the 16th century it was the College of Arts and, with the Confiscation, in 1875, it became the property of the State undergoing a process of abandonment that had it almost in ruins. In 1985 it was declared of Cultural Interest and restoration projects were initiated. Since 2004 it works as a Tourism Parador, being possible for the general public to visit the church and its cloisters.
The church, of late Romanesque style, was built at the end of the 12th century. It has a basilical plan with 3 apses at the head, being the center smaller than the sides, which is rare in this style. The nave is covered by a ribbed vault, which replaced the old wooden roof in the 16th century. As with most churches, it has a west-facing facade, framed by two large towers with their bell towers. It was built at the end of the 16th century and in it you can see, in the niche of the upper body, the image of San Estevo.
Inside, the altarpiece of the main altar stands out, the work of Juan de Angés in the 16th century, and a stone altarpiece, dated between the 12th and 13th centuries and which was found in one of the walls of the large cloister. In it Christ is represented in the center and surrounded by the 12 apostles under arches.
The monastery has a large baroque facade, from 1736. In it we can see the images of San Benito and San Vicente and on them the shield of the monastery with the nine miter of the nine bishops and the shield of the Congregation of Castile. At the top of the facade is the shield of Carlos V.
The Big Cloister, also called de la Portería or de los Cabaleiros, is located at the entrance of the enclosure and was built in the 16th century by Diego de Isla, consisting of three Renaissance-style bodies and semicircular arches supported on columns, creating a huge space.
Through it you can access the Cloister of Bishops, where the graves of the nine bishops were, not preserved today. In it we have two very differentiated bodies that are visible. The first, Romanesque of the twelfth century, is the oldest preserved with the church. The heavy buttresses break the harmony of the simple semicircular arches but were necessary to support the second body, from the 16th century, already of a late Gothic style.
To the north of the Bishops we have the Small Cloister, and it was also built by Diego de Isla in the 16th century.
We leave Santo Estevo through a beautiful cobbled road that is part of the old Royal Road (Camino Real) that linked the monastery with Os Peares, through a chestnut forest that was worked by the monks and in which some still stands sequeiro, used for drying and storage of chestnuts. In continuous ascent through a forest that does not let the sun’s rays penetrate, we reach the village of Paradela from which we already have the first views over the Sil River. A little later, in Biduedo, we can see the constructions and granaries that are articulated around its square. Here is a private water tap at the entrance of the town.
The Mámoas das Cabanas de Moura is a set of 7 funeral pantheons (mamoas) dated between 3500 BC. and 2000 B.C. constituting an archaeological site of great value and interest. Located in a high place with great dominion over the surrounding lands, they are large granite slabs used to bury the most prominent members of those Neolithic communities and which are then covered by soil, creating something similar to a breast, hence its name. Within the great imaginary that Galicians possess and that always runs on the edge of truth and legend, these burial mounds are also associated with the “mouros”, people who keep great treasures. Each of the mamoas has an explanatory panel of its creation process.
Thus we arrive at Castro da Moura, an old settlement with access flanked by 2 large stones. From its highest zone we have a privileged view over the Sil River canyon and the San Estevo Monastery.
Very close there is the Pedra Longa viewpoint, with a curious and huge stone formation that rises in balance. The views of the Sil dock and the monastery, the shadows that the stones give and the magic that breathes invite a long stop. The path continues through other formations of granite stone with the most capricious forms such as the Penedos de Rufiño, with its viewpoint over the canyon, or the Penedo de Trigo, of enormous spherical shape.
From there we have to be attentive to the signs to resume the route and reach the place of Monteverde, where there is another source of water. The end of the path continues through carriozas flanked by curious granite formations to, after passing Valdomar, reach Luintra, capital of Nogueira de Ramuín.
In the statue of the sharpener we finish this beautiful and instructive stage for the most significant of this municipality, but not before thanking the Association Move by Nogueira for the work done to maintain and disseminate all these routes.
|Monastery of San Estevo de Ribas do Sil
|San Estevo chestnut forest
|Eira da Malla
|Mamoas da Cabanas
|Castro da Moura
|As Portas do Castro
|Pedra Longa (stones)
|Penedos de Rufino (stones)
|Penedo do Trigo (stones)
|Monteverde water source
|Capel of Santa Eulalia
|Church of Santa Olaia