Spanish Gems: Monforte de Lemos in Galicia

created with Jen Maddocks Urban 5 kit

Monforte de Lemos in the Lugo province of Galicia was an unexpected delight to us.  Perched high on a hill in the center of town, the Parador where we stayed has a commanding view on all sides.  I loved looking out of our room, off toward the mountains just north of the CaƱon do Sil, the deep ravine where the River Sil cuts a swath through hills blanketed in vineyards.

From the vantage of the Parador, I was especially intrigued by the long, straight road that sliced through town, directly toward the hills.  Can you see it below?

Looking at it, all I could think of was, "the street called 'Straight'" (Acts 9:11).

You don't have to gaze outward to see interesting views -- the Parador itself is very nice!  Set in a  seventeenth century palace once owned by the Counts of Lemos, the Parador made a great accommodation and also interesting tourist stop in itself.

The front of the old palace is grand, even imposing. 

The cloister is impressive.

There are tables and chairs so you can sit or dine outside.  There are views of the cloister from both the ground and upper levels of the property.

Facing the front of the Parador, to the left is the ancient tower  and sight of the former monastic housing.  To the right is the attached church.

The monastery / church building, attached to the side of the Parador
Wedding preparations decorated the interior of the church
Our room had lovely views.  It also had the two-foot-thick walls you sometimes come to expect in these historic buildings. The beds were comfortable.  The average-sized room featured the ubiquitous mini fridge, chair, and desk with additional chair.


The hallways surrounding the cloister had comfortable chairs, sofas, and tables where guests can lounge and enjoy the view of the historic property.  

At the back side of the hotel is a pool, set in a pleasant garden that also had views over the city.

Strolling through the town, it wasn't long before we encountered the scenic river Cabe, and glimpsed the Parador perched on the hill.

So many towns throughout Spain have Roman bridges, and Monforte is no exception.  

The downtown has a pleasant pedestrian area, and provides glimpses of the historic tower that sits next to the Parador.  Although there was no medieval quarter or specific historic district, it still felt like a very approachable small city.  Maybe the lack of tourists helped it feel more real.

The enormous and lovely Colegio de Los Escolapios sits next to a beautiful little park and backs to the river.

We spent one morning touring the nearby Ribeira Sacra region, along the Sil River Canyon.  What a lovely area!  It was reminiscent of the Douro Valley in Portugal.

We had the best pulpo (octopus) of the trip in Monforte.  I love pulpo; it is one of my favorite Spanish dishes!  It was served up in the best kind of place:  no frills, no name, a big vat of boiling water powered by a propane-tank flame, prepared on a simple table near the doorway.  In went the whole octopus to boil.  After they cooked it, they snipped it in to half-inch bits, drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, paprika, and served it over a bed of potatoes -- Gallego style.  Perfection!

Sometimes not finding the original restaurant you were looking is the best thing!

After lunch, we headed back to the Parador, where a small crowd was gathered for a wedding.  What a pretty spot for a ceremony!  We had seen the decorated church and baskets of rice earlier in the day.

Monforte de Lemos proved to be not only a relaxing destination, but also a perfectly-positioned spot to sightsee.  It is close to Ourense and its thermal baths, Ponferrada and the medieval castle, and the impressive Santo Estevo Monastery-turned-Parador on the other side of the river.

As a fun supplement to our trip, I read Craig Briggs' Journey to a Dream, about a British couple establishing a home near Monforte.  It was an interesting book!

Have you ever been to Monforte de Lemos?