Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
El ajedrez de cristal de roca o una caja de marfil, entre las piezas a estudio
San Estevo is about halfway between Monforte de Lemos (on the Invierno) and Ourense (on the Sanabres)
(the blue flag). It would be a two day walk to connect the two, staying at the Parador at San Estevo. Of course it is not cheap...but if I were only going to stay in one Parador I think that would be the one I would choose. A little farther towards Ourense, in Luintra, there is the Hotel a Forxa. A third the price but it would make for a very long and tiring day. San Estevo is part way up the hill from the river, and if you didn't stay there you'd have the rest of that climb at the end of the day.
Hi, I heard a discussion on the radio here in Ireland on this topic few days ago. Interesting, as I was in Ourense twice in Sept/Oct this year on my way to start walking in Puebla de Sanabria to Santiago and stayed again while walking. Very interesting.
What an amazing story! This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all of the wonderful places to visit in this area. I once spent three nights in the Ribera Sacra, one in Celanova and two in the parador. I posted my notes from that trip on another thread and paste them in here again, with some of the chatter removed. I can’t think of another three day trip that contains more beautiful scenery and more incredible religious architecture from the middle ages. The Sil river gorge is not on any Camino, though we do walk along the Sil river on the Invierno. Highly recommend either a detour off your camino or a great little post walking trip from Santiago.
Thursday, Hotel Celanova, a recently re-opened two star hotel, clean and basic, very nice, run by nice people. Right in center near the main square and monastery. Celanova is a very pretty place, lots of typical gallego architecture.
Friday -- after breakfast in the hotel, I drove to Santa Comba de Bande, 7C visigothic, south of Celanova, where Maricel let me in (You can find her phone number easily on line, she lives in the hamlet and is very flexible). Amazing place. The church itself is kind of hemmed in by neighborhood houses now, but is one of those jewels much in need of renovation. From there I went to Aquis Querquennis, a Roman military encampment, located on the way back to Celanova. Very interesting, 2 euros for interpretative center and access to the camp, the "mansion," and the thermal baths (about 8 people, mainly Portuguese, were taking baths in the hot springs. From there I drove back to Celanova to take the 12:30 tour of the monastery. Beautiful baroque altarpiece, visit to the 10C mozarabic chapel.
I then drove to Allariz for walk around and some lunch. I have to say I was amazed at the level of life activity in Allariz, it is one small Galician city that seems to be doing well. It has the requisite romanesque church and romanesque bridge, with a castle ruin at the top of the hill. At 4:30 I met Manuel, with Xeitura (a company he and two of his friends started to take people to cultural sites in the area), in Santa Mariña de Aguas Santas. We had an amazing 3 hours. First to the big romanesque church, with an astonishing capital or two. Big square church, kind of reminded me of the Santo Estevo on the MInho. Then we walked down to the "fornos" where the legend of Santa Mariña has an important part. The "fornos" were supposedly the underground ovens where she was martyred, but historical research suggests that it's more likely that these chambers were a pre-Roman sauna. But Miguel was very good about telling me the religious legend, the archaeological explanation, etc. From the fornos (which are underneath an incomplete romanesque church), we walked to the Castro, a celtic hill fort, huge in its expanse, dating back to 3,000-2,000 BC I think. From there we walked on, to the later Roman ruins nearby. Recently discovered, they think this was some sort of granary/garden/home, and not anything religious. I highly recommend contacting this group, http://xeitura.com/, they are serious and dedicated to the area´s cultural patrimony. Two historians and one archaeologist, or vice versa, but they are really hoping to be able to stay in Allariz and make a living. It was delightful.
After leaving Manuel, I had to drive to the parador, which was a bit challenging, even with my GPS that kept sending me off on narrow residential roads, but I got there by 7:45. The setting of this parador is spectacular, not directly on the river, but nestled in a beautiful green valley.
Saturday, I was on the road by 9:00, First stop was San Pedro de Rocas, a Romanesque church built into the rocks and then used as tombs, many anthropomorphic shapes in the lower levels. I walked a great 9 km circle, which involved seeing a peto de ánimas, one of those old stone structures where people used to deposit alms for the souls in Purgatory. After visiting the church, I drove to the church of Santa Cristina. WOW, this is a lovely place, down in a little woods near the river clinging to the side of the hill. Another Romanesque, beautiful entrance to the cloister, then a bigger church adjacent. Just an idyllic setting.
Then to the Sil River Gorge. I drove past the town of Parada de Sil and found a trailhead that was about 3 km from the Balcons de Madrid, the best known viewing spot over the gorge. Lovely lovely walk, through a couple of hamlets and lots of forest. The views from the two different miradors are just amazing, looking down onto the Sil River gorge.
From there I drove back slowly to the parador, stopping at 3 or 4 more miradores along the river. One view was lovelier than the next, it was very nice. When I got back to the parador, with many hours of daylight left, I decided to walk on a well marked trail up to the hamlet of Pombar, about 2.5 km up from the parador, and then back down. More gorgeous views from nice paths in lovely woods.
I decided to head to the nearby (5 km) small town of Luintra to buy some supper fixings, which I later ate in one of the commons rooms of the parador. On my way into town I took a turnoff for the neolithic tombs. I couldn't really distinguish them from other piles of rocks, which is frequently my dilemma. But driving beyond and taking a turnoff for some miradores was a brilliant idea, it turned out. Just because it gave me another hour of walking in beautiful countryside!
Then into Luintra, just in time for the 8:30 closing time, where the woman in the little store made me a chorio and cheese sandwich, bought a tomato and a very sweet red pepper. Amazing day, absolutely amazing.
Sunday, to break up the monotony of the drive back to Lisbon, I visited the Roman ruins at Conímbriga. Very nice detour, well worth the two hours and 2.5 eurosIt was a nice way to end the weekend.
For those who are OK reading in Spanish, I can recommend this novel: El bosque de los cuatro vientos, by María Oruña. It is set in Santo Estevo and finding the missing rings is a big part of the story. The novel was actually written before the rings were found.