Abadía de Santo Domingo de Silos

Castilla y León

The cloister and museum of this revered monastery is a two-storey treasure chest of some of Spain's most imaginative Romanesque art. The overall effect is spectacular, but the sculpted capitals are especially exquisite, with lions intermingled with floral and geometrical motifs. The guided tour covers the 17th-century botica (pharmacy) and a small museum containing religious artworks, Flemish tapestries and the odd medieval sarcophagus. Guided tours are in Spanish only; other visitors are usually allowed to wander more freely.

It's in the cloister that you'll most want to linger; don't miss the unusually twisted column on the western side. The pieces executed on the corner pillars represent episodes from the life of Christ, while the galleries are covered by Mudéjar ceilings from the 14th century. In the northeastern corner sits a 13th-century image of the Virgin Mary carved in stone, while nearby is the original burial spot of Santo Domingo. Note that much of the monastery is off limits to visitors.

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