Travel

A Guide to the Best Things you can do in Santo Domingo de Silos

Situated along both famed Camino del Cid and the Camino de Santiago, a Pilgrimage stretching all the way from Saint-Pied-du-Port in Western France to the stunning Santiago de Compostela, the town of Santo Domingo de Silos in the Province of Burgos, Castile, and Léon is all you dreamed a Northern Spanish sleepy town could be.

Shuttered windows, rustic stone walls, and plenty of cobbled lanes: one wander with the town feels similar to stepping back in time. And thanks to its compact nature, the city and surrounding attractions may be easily explored over the course of each day approximately.

Today, the city just several hundred inhabitants (326 as of the 2010 Census) and is worlds apart from most of the town’s more touristic counterparts elsewhere in the region. Here’s your ultimate help guide to the very best things you can do in Santo Domingo de Silos, in addition to travel tips, and what to know prior to going!

#ad | This post is sponsored by TRANSROMANICA, the Romanesque Routes of European Heritage as certified through the Council of Europe. All opinions, words, and photos, remains those of the editor.

Best things you can do in Santo Domingo de Silos

Monasterio Santo Domingo de Silos (Monastery of Saint Dominic)

Truth be told, the center of attention from the town is the Benedictine monastery around that the rest of the town is made. Filled with cloisters and plenty of stunning Romanesque architecture (that is easily some of the most beautiful in Northern Spain), the Monastery dates all the way to the 7th-century (i.e. the Visigothic period).

Though the Abbey was named San Sebastián de Silos throughout the 10th-century, just a few centuries later this was changed for Dominic of Silos, once the King of Castile and Léon at that time (Fernando the truly amazing) entrusted renovation activly works to Domingo.

By the 18th-century, the Abbey Church had fallen into disrepair and so was largely reconstructed in the Neo-Classical style. Luckily for us, most of the Romanesque features remain in the bigger ecclesiastical complex. Unfortunately, funds for renovations ran out, by 1853, the Abbey was closed.

The Abbey was once more revived by French Benedictine Monks just a couple decades later. Today, part of the Monastery has been transformed into a museum, where one can learn all about the history of living in the Abbey throughout the Dark ages, as well as a glimpse into the lifetime of the Brothers who would have resided there in the past.

As along with several historic rooms (including a centuries-old pharmacy boasting a similarly old library), there’s a presentation providing the chance to see some of the greatest treasures housed within the Monastery walls. Guided tours are available for just a couple euros, even though there are only obtainable in Spanish.

You should also realize that the oldest Western manuscript on paper, the Missal of Silos, is also housed within the walls of the Monasterio. Unfortunately, access to the main library is closed to the general public. Other popular features of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos include a Cypress tree that’s on the century old and painted Medieval Mudéjar ceilings.

Listen towards the Gregorian Chants from the Monks from the Monasterio

One of the more unusual things you can do in Santo Domingo de Silos would be to enjoy the Gregorian Chants of the Abbey Monks. In a somewhat unbelievable claim that they can fame, the monks actually managed to allow it to be in to the British pop charts in the 1990s with recordings of their Chants. Today, services are held six times each day and visitors who attend one of these will be treated to the Chants (that are also referred to as Vespers).

Iglesia de San Pedro (Church of Saint Peter)

In the very heart of town, next to the town hall, you’ll soon uncover the beautiful church of San Pedro (Saint Peter), which dates back to the 12th-century and contains many Romanesque architectural features. Unfortunately, the ecclesiastical building remained shuttered for the duration of our stay, although it was still pretty beautiful externally!

Main town square & town hall

Much of Santo Domingo de Silos is focused round the main town square and town hall, which proudly flies the flag of Spain and stands tall above the rest of the picturesque houses in the square. If you’re feeling just a little hungry and therefore are searching for a bite to eat, this is where you’ll discover a number of restaurants, in addition to a small shop selling essentials such as snacks and toiletries.

Ermita en Virgen del Camino (Hermitage of the Virgin of the Camino)

Hands down, the best view in Santo Domingo de Silos can be found in the small hermitage which presides over the remaining town. Simple to reach inside a ten-minute walk of the Monastery, the small chapel is closed to the public, though its interior could be spied through the keyhole or via the small windows which shine light in to the ecclesiastical building.

Elsewhere on the hill, visitors will quickly discover small stations from the Christ, leading their way up the hill and culminating in the Ermita en Virgen del Camino, a simple chapel dating from the mid-twentieth century which was constructed on the site of a previous host to worship.

Museo Los Sonidos de la Tierra

Address | Calle de Las Condesas 10, Santo Domingo de Silos

During our stay in Santo Domingo de Silos, among the best-kept secrets was that of the museum. After all, throughout our time going through the village, we continually spied signs for that ‘Museo’. Despite the fact that we didn’t get a chance to explore the cultural hub to live in, this museum is really dedicated to musical instruments from around the world.

Other highlights and hidden gems from the town worth checking out include the historic archway and gateway along Calle la Cadena (which can be found steps away from the entrance towards the Monastery) and the historic outdoor washing station, also is located close to the Monastery.

Desfiladero en Yecla

With eagles soaring overhead and greater than life-sized vultures perched around the rocks above your face, a wander through Desfiladero de La Yecla gorge (which has been carved out by both time and the Mataviejas river) truly is one of the best things you can do near to Santo Domingo de Silos. Free to visit (though you’ll need a car in order to explore most abundant in flexibility), this gorge includes a winding pathway set over the rushing water below.

Where in which to stay Santo Domingo de Silos

Thanks to the tiny nature of this sleepy village, Santo Domingo de Silos offers only a number of places to stay in the form of guesthouses and mid-range hotels. We personally stayed at the Hotel Tres Coronas de Silos, which is a traditional Spanish hotel offering relaxed rooms in a historic dwelling.

Set from the backdrop of a former mansion house, the history of the building dates completely back to 1745 and it is constructed in the Baroque style, meaning ornate and incredibly sumptuous detailing. Some rooms even offer views to the main town square.

Things to understand before visiting Santo Domingo de Silos

One from the first things I noticed while travelling in additional rural areas of Spain is the fact that a lot of the touristic information available (along with the tour of the Monastery) was really only available in Spanish. As such, you’ll likely wish to have a simple Spanish phrasebook with you that will help you on your travels!

Otherwise, you should know those with dietary requirements might find it just a little harder to locate dishes to match their needs; for instance, even though it is easy to eat vegan and vegetarian in this part of rural Spain, you’ll be consuming lots of salads and plates of (delicious) vegetables.

While around, be sure to sample some of the local Tinto de verano. Literally translated as the ‘dark wine from the summer,’ this refreshing drink tastes best in situ (approximately I’m told!) Created by mixing the local dark wine with soda or lemonade, this really is one tipple you’ll want to try during the Romanesque Route.

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