The Monastery of Celanova

Lordships were territorial domains whose inhabitants owed allegiance to its landowner. Lordships could be territorial – part of the land was allowed to be cultivated by peasants in exchange for services and other benefits – or jurisdictional – landowners administered justice: they collected taxes (from the use of properties of the lordship: lands, woods, rivers, watermills, ovens, roads, bridges, boats that crossed a river, etc…), and maintained law and order, and called to military service.

In Spain there were royal lordships (directly dependent on the King), ecclesiastical lordships (dependent on the ecclesiastic nobility) or manorial lordships (dependent on the lay nobility). Kings donated lands with its vassals and its jurisdiction to the ecclesiastic and lay nobility in payment of services provided to the Crown. The nobility then became vassals of the Crown. This became a general practice with the aim of carrying out in less time the “Reconquista” (Reconquest) (722-1492) of the Iberian peninsula and the “Repoblación” (Resettlement) of the territories on the borders with Al-Andalus, in which military Orders – that of Saint James, Jerusalem, etc…-, high clergy and the lay nobility took part.

Since its founding the Monastery of Celanova received many donations and privileges that made it the most important Galician monastery in the 11th century. The abbot of the monastery ended up having several titles: Count of Bande, Marquis of the Sande Keep, and Chaplain of the Royal House.

The Monastery of Celanova was one of the most powerful Benedictine monasteries in Galicia. The jurisdiction of its lordship stretched across all the “Terra de Celanova” district and large areas within the province of Ourense – A Limia, Monterrei, and O Ribeiro – and beyond it by establishing priories that collected revenues for the motherhouse – the monastery of Celanova. It amassed an enormous amount of immovable properties: farms, 42 parish “hórreos” (granaries on pillars) – the collection point of all types of revenues in kind-, “tullas” – granaries only for grain -, wine presses, and wine cellars – to make and store wine.

The patrimonial wealth of the Monastery of Celanova was to be found basically in three areas:

1. “Terra de Celanova” (Land of Celanova) (from the 10th century on)

Bordering area of “Terra de Celanova” were other lordships: among others that of the Crown, of the Monastery of Ramirás, of the Monastery of San Martiño de Grou, of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem – the Order of Malta -, and of the Order of the Knights of Saint James.

In the Middle Ages “Terra de Celanova” was made up by the territories of the present-day municipalities of  Celanova, Verera, Cartelle, Gomesende, Pontedeva, Quintela de Leirado, and Ramirás, plus those of Arnoia, Cortegada, Padrenda, Bande, Lobeira, and part of those of Castrelo de Miño, and Lobios.
Of the three areas where the monastery of Celanova had properties this was the most important because of the amount of properties and their value.

2. Grounds of Mixós

These grounds surround the locality of Monterrei – the lordship of the Counts of Monterrei. It was an area of great conflicts between the Monastery of Celanova and the lord of the castle – the Count of Monterrei.

3. Lands located east from “Terra de Celanova” in the jurisdiction of Celme, south of river

The revenues were collected mainly from the farm of Candás and from the “hórreo” (granary on pillars) in Laroá (Xinzo de Limia).

The Monastery of Celanova was also one of the most important monasteries in Spain. It is said that Emperor Charles I of Spain – Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire – (1500-1558) had considered the possibility of retiring in this monastery before he chose that of Yuste.

Within Galicia it was the most powerful abbey during the High Middle Ages and created the most extensive lordship in the Modern Era. The importance of the monastery during the 17th and 18th centuries as well as its economic and social power was mirrored in the reforms that the monastery underwent over the years resulting in the fact that – except for the Chapel of Saint Michael – the entire monastery was rebuilt.
Video of the Monastery’s Stages of Construction

In the early 19th century lordships were suppressed and municipalities and jurisdictional districts were created, although the property of the land didn’t belong to peasants until the 20th century.

In the 19th century the confiscation processes carried out by the State by means of public auctions put on the market lands and non-productive goods which until then had been property of the Church and of the nobility, with the aim of encouraging the creation of a middle-class of smallholders. This put an end to most monasteries in Spain.

Due to all this changes took place in the monastery and in the town of Celanova:



  • It’s located in the Main Square in front of the monastery since the 19th century.
  • It was designed in Renaissance style (16th century) and before the confiscation processes it stood in the Cloister of Processions.
    Webcam of the Plaza Mayor (Main Square)


  • As long as the lordship of Celanova lasted, the height of these houses was limited.


(A Bola (Santa Baia de Berredo))

  • This granary is part of the ensemble in Santa Baia: church, rectory, and granary on pillars.
  • The granary on pillars was built in 1832.
  • Berredo was a priory of the Monastery of Celanova: in the Barroque altarpiece of the church there’s a figure of Saint Rudesind depicted as a bishop.
  • This granary on pillars was used to collect the revenue in kind for the Monastery of Celanova: it’s the largest granary on pillars in the province of Ourense, which tells us of the agricultural wealth of this area.
    Hórreo de Santa Baia de Berredo


Ramirás (Paizás))

  • It dates back to the 12th
  • This church is what remains of a former monastery that was a priory of the Monastery of Celanova:
    • On the main façade to the right there’s the coat of arms of the Monastery of Celanova.
    • In the inside in the altarpiece there’s a figure of Saint Benedict and in the sacristy in a niche there’s a small figure of Saint Rudesind depicted as a young bishop.
  • In this locality the monastery of Celanova owned a farm and an “hórreo” (granary on pillars).
    Igrexa de San Salvador de Paizás


(Cartelle (San Salvador))

BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1949
Style: late Gothic (14th century)

  • The castle of which this keep was part, along with the jurisdiction of its grounds, was donated to the abbot of the Monastery of Celanova in 1141 by King Alphonse VII of León (1105 – 1157). Since then the abbot held also the title of Marquis of Sande.
  • This castle was one of the several that defended the “Limiam” territory: it was an important outpost to control the territory, since one can sight the lands of the O Ribeiro district, the valleys of rivers Miño and Arnoia and the junction of several roads. It played a crucial role during the wars against the Portuguese.
    Torre da homenaxe de Sande



BIC*: National Historical Monument since 1982
Style: Churrigueresque Baroque (ca. 1739)

  • This church is located along the trail of the Miñoto-Ribeiro Jacobean Way.
  • It’s one of the best samples of Baroque architecture in Galicia and one of the few of Churrigueresque Baroque in the region of Galicia.
  • It depended on the Monastery of Celanova until the Modern Era – from 1772 there’s the coat of arms of the monastery of Celanova on the door of the sacristy. From this year on it depended on the royal lordship – i.e. the Crown -, that’s why it’s called Saint Mary’s Royal Church.
    Igrexa de Santa María a Real



(Celanova (Vilanova dos Infantes))

  • The first floor houses a model of the “Terra de Celanova” district with its landmarks among which are churches ,monasteries, and Sande’s Keep.
  • On the second floor there’s an exhibition about the history of the district of “Terra de Celanova” including the role played by the monastery of Celanova.



Date: Thursdays (8 a.m. – 2 p.m., Spanish local time). If Thursday falls on a holiday it’s shifted to Wednesday

  • It’s a traditional town market with stands that sell clothes, shoes, accessories, plants, fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat.
  • It takes place on the Main Square and within the Alameda Park, where you eat octopus Galician style (“polbo á feira”).
    O Feirón

*BIC (Bien de interés cultural) – “Heritage of Cultural Interest” – applies to classified heritage in Spain.

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