Ribeira Sacra Valley Travel Guide

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The river beach at A cova

The river beach at A cova

riebiera sacra

The Ribeira Sacra covers an area of surprising natural beauty on both margins of the valley and of the manumental canyon of the Sil. This impressive natural and touristic territory includes the regions situated among the first elevation of the 'Caurel' (NE), the valleys of 'Ourense' and 'Ribeiro' (SW), and from the mountain range of 'Faro' (NW) to that of 'Queixa' (SE) nearly all the mountain limits that separate it from other regions such as the Caurel, Valdeorras, Lalin, Val de Limia or Bolo. In this way, the Ribeira Sacra is a land of river banks and monutains at the same time. It's average hight is of 600 metres, presenting an enormous declination that goes from 100 metres from the water level of the Sil in Peares to nearly 1900 metres to the 'Cabeza Grande de Manzaneda' mountain. However, the lands that include it are bathed by the waters of many river courses such as the Cabe, Bibei or Navea and all flow into the Sil. The routes of the Miño immediately preceding and following the confluence with the Sil also forms part of the Ribeira Sacra.
The Ribeira Sacra is of mountainous territory with pronounced valleys, livestock, genuine gastronomy and a splendid monastic past with powerful characters such as the Lemos and including the war of the Irmandinhas. This is why, this land full of vineyards and excellent wines give place to a unique landscape, that of, vineyards on the mountainsides of the Miño and the Sil.

The Wines of the Ribeira Sacra deserve a special mention. Those elaborated in the Ribeira Sacra are divided among different denominations of origin; the 'Ribeira Sacra', that counts on five subzones, and the 'Valdeorras' that belongs to the zones more to the east. Numerous wine cellars dedicated to the production of first quality wines exist and in smaller quantities to the production of 'Aguardiente' (firewater) and coffee liquor. However, these wines are becoming well known and exported to other markets.

The Ribeira Sacra assembles a large number of megalithic monuments such as the tombs and testimonies of the people of these lands going right back to ancient years. However, the petroglyphs like the ones found in 'Sober' suggest a celtic settlement in the area between 1.300-1.000 a.C. The large number of forts show an important geographical strategy of these lands, generous in metals such as gold and copper and minerals like tin. Some areas and castles like 'Monforte' and the castle of Caldelas have their origins in important forts. The romans, sometimes settled their scarce but important nucleus over ancient forts such as in Proendos, and forced the native population to work in the extraction of the 'gold of the Sil' and other minerals. Witness of this mineral exploitation is the fluvial gold mine of Montefurado among others. Over Galicia, you can still find various bridges of roman origin, those of Bibei, Vilarinho, Monforte etc, and an important road the Via-VII: (Braga-Astorga). Above all, the introduction of the grapevines and the numerous chestnut trees that today cover the region are due to them. In effect, the romans adored the wine so much that they gave it the name of 'the golden liquid of the Sil'. For thousands of years a large number of eremites and monasteries have flourished the river banks of the Sil and the Miño and up to such an extent that this fact gave the whole region the name 'Rivoyra Sacrata'.

It is false to call the 'Ribeira Sacra' a valley. The area is bound on the West and southern sides with the two vallies formed by the Rio Sil and Miño. The north and eastern edges are not so well defined but the city of Monforte de Lemos in the east and the town of O Saviñao to the north are two identity points.
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