The tiny village of Santo Domingo de Silos is located in the southern part of the Burgos Province in Northern Spain. After my flight with KLM from Amsterdam landed in Milan, we drove here in just under two hours and as the landscape changed from metropolitan to urban, you could almost feel the time slow down.
Santo Domingo de Silos lies in Ribera de Burgos wine country and the area is dotted with picturesque Spanish villages that make you want to take photos non-stop. This part of Castile Leon Spain is gorgeous!
In this article, I’d love to show you around my new favourite town on my Northern Spain Travels (although… Oviedo still has my heart as one of the most surprising cities in northern Spain) and introduce you to the Romanesque Heritage route that I followed from Spain to Portugal together with Transromanica, a network of Romanesque heritage sites.
As part of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Route, Transromanica shows us the shared cultural heritage in Europe and really take us on a journey without boundaries, through different countries and cultures, space and time. I travelled with them last year to the region of Saxony Anhalt in Germany exploring the cultural routes there as well!
On this year’s route, I also visited the Spanish cities of Burgos and Zamora and in Portugal, we visited Lousada, Amarante and Porto, on which I will be writing city guides and give you a full northern Spain itinerary soon!.
ONE DAY IN SANTO DOMINGO DE SILOS ITINERARY
We arrived late at night in Silos and went straight from a local restaurant to sleep in our hotel. Ok, to be honest, that’s what I did myself (some of our group had more energy and already made a quick photo round in the evening, how efficient of them ;)
I always like to soak up the energy of my surroundings a bit and settle in my hotel room before I go out to explore, but after a good night’s rest (our hotel was magical, I’ll tell you more about it when I write about dinner later) I set out to explore quickly after breakfast.
How to Spend Your Morning in Santo Domingo de Silos?
The streets of Silos are small and quiet, with plenty of good photo-ops and benches to sit on and reflect on life. Sure, this is clearly not a place often visited by young people, or many foreign tourists for that matter, but that’s also what I liked about it. It’s a real local gem that is still unspoiled and aimed at selling to tourists. Love it!
Visit Basílica de San Sebastián
The biggest highlight in Santos Domingo de Silos is the Basílica de San Sebastián. I suggest you reserve all morning to explore the main church from the inside, as well as climb the hill next to it for spectacular views.
The Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos Burgos is a Benedictine monastery named after the eleventh-century saint Dominic of Silos, who was entrusted to renovate the original Visigothic abbey from the 7th century (that got raided by the Arabs and was then called the ‘Monastery of Saint Sebastian’) by Fernando the Great, King of Castile and León Spain.
When Santo Domingo died in 1073, the work on the church and the cloister was handed over to Abbot Fortunius. He saw the rest of the construction to its completion. The church was later rebuilt by the neoclassical architect Ventura Rodríguez. After closure of the abbey in 1853, Benedictine monks from Solesmes in France revived the foundation in 1880.
The monastery is located on the eastern side of a small valley, next to the river Mataviejas. During the Middle Ages, it was the nerve centre of the secluded monastic life and the cradle of botanical and medical knowledge.
Santo Domingo designed the church to have a central nave with two side aisles and five chapels attached to its apse and transept. The building is considered one of the finest examples of the Spanish Romanesque style.
The rectangular cloister, in which you will immediately spot an 28 meters high, 125 years old cypress tree in the courtyard, is the only surviving part of the monastery in its original form and has been decorated with 16 semi-circular arches on the north and south sides and 14 semi-circular arches on the west and east sides. They lean on sculpted capitals with a wide range of unique motifs (anything from animals, foliage and abstract designs to even dragons to mermaids) over double shaft columns, some of them twisted.
The upper story of the old Romanesque cloister, that unfortunately you cannot visit, was placed on the wooden vaulting of the first story and was completed during the 12th century. The capitals here depict narrative scenes.
The corners of this cloister are decorated with large reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Christ. In one of the corners you can find an important Romanesque free-standing enthroned Madonna and Child statue. Also don’t forget to look up at the Mudéjar ceilings from the 14th century that represents scenes from daily medieval life, simply stunning!
You can take a guided tour of the cloisters (3 Euros), but take note that these only run in Spanish.
Besides the cloister, you can visit a small museum with different rooms filled with liturgical objects, furniture, tapestries, paintings, sculptures and medieval manuscripts. In the ‘botica’ (pharmacy), you can find a collection of ceramic jars from Talavera de la Reina (a city in central Spain), and a lab full of antique instruments from the 17th century.
The library of the monastery contains fragments of bibles, manuscripts and musical fragments from some twenty codices (hand-written manuscript books) in Aquitaine notation. It also contains the ‘Missal of Silos’, the oldest Western manuscript on paper. Some of the manuscripts from the Silos scriptorium are preserved at the British Library in London and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.
The church was granted the important status of basilica by papal decree (a type of official order that has the force of law, issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church) in the year 2000.
Listen to the Chanting Monks of Silos
A special event, which somehow we managed to miss during our stay, is that you can hear the monks chant at the monasterio Silos.
If you plan your visit well, you may be able to attend one of the daily services by the Benedictine monks (6 times per day). In these services, they perform Gregorian chants, called vespers (a sunset evening prayer service).
They even became famous with them after releasing a series of CD’s in the 1990s that made it to the Billboard music charts. (They are called ‘Chant’ and ‘Chant II’ and they also have a Christmas edition – for those interested)
If you want to hear the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos chant, here is a great sound clip for you:
Have you ever heard Benedictine monks chant?
Climb for a View
After your visit to the monastery, I suggest you walk along the side of the building over Calle la Cadena, so you can walk under the city gate towards the footpath that leads you up the hill.
At the top, not only do you have a great view over the Santo Domingo de Silos monastery, but there is also the Ermita de la Virgen del Camino, a basilica on the route of the Camino de Santiago. It was built between 1957 and 1961 by the architect Fray Coello of Portugal, replacing a previous sanctuary that had been there to accommodate all parishioners and pilgrims.
Other suggestions to do in Santo Domingo de los Silos are:
Visit Museo Los Sonidos de la Tierra
This museum in Santo Domingo de Silos showcases musical instruments, such as drums and lutes, from the region and from around the world.
Visit The Church of Santo Domingo de Silos
A Mudéjar and Romanesque style construction built in the 14th century (one of the oldest in all of Spain!) on top of a Roman temple from the 12th and 13th centuries.
It was built with Moorish style brick and the tower features Islamic decorations, while the main nave has Romanesque style windows. The church was renovated in the 18th century, but still retains much of its Moorish elements.
How to Spend Your Afternoon in Santo Domingo de Silos?
One day (or even just one morning) is more than plenty to see all the sights in Santo Domingo de Silos itself, but if you have some more time, there is a lot more to discover in the area, such as Desfiladero de La Yecla Burgos.
Go Hiking in Nature
The beautiful and less frequented Natural Park of the Glacial Lagoons of Neila are great for hiking! Or you can keep it simple and make a short stop at the natural space of Desfiladero de La Yecla, a gorge that can be found two kilometers from Silos.
Desfiladero La Yecla is an impressive gorge in the Valley of Arlanza, with narrow footpaths and bridges that you would never even guess to be there coming from the main road!
No worries though, while it sounds super exciting (well… it kind of is because of the impressive scenery!) the gorge is totally safe to walk through as there are clear signposts and even barriers where needed, so this is an activity you can do with any fitness and so the La Yecla gorge is suitable for all ages.
What I loved wasn’t just the high cliff walls that make you feel quite small, but also the fact that we saw vultures fly high above us! Wow! That definitely made my bird-nerd alert go off, haha.
How to Spend Your Evening in Santo Domingo de Silos?
While the community of Santo Domingo de Silos is just small and the focus lies on mostly rural tourism, there are some options when it comes to tasting some of the delicious products of the region. While not necessarily a foodie destination, if you’re keen on trying some typical Burgos cuisine, you’re in the right place.
Dinner with Local Produce
The hotel we stayed at, the charming Castilian baroque style Hotel Restaurante Tres Coronas de Silos which was built in the 18th century, served up traditional Burgos delicacies at their in-house restaurant Asador Casa Emeterio. We started with a local bean soup (Alubias) and then I had a lovely white fish with asparagus and broccoli.
At the hotel restaurant, their star dish is the “Cordero Asado”, a roast lamb which is prepared in a firewood oven. We had it for lunch and it tasted great! Also their tapas (such as grilled chorizo, mushrooms and peppers and sausage with artichokes) were delicious.
But best of all? Besides serving my favourite drink cider (Sidra), they produce their own rum called “GS – Gin Silos” (Premium Dry), which of course we were more than happy to try!
Other typical dishes from the region are:
- Asado de Cordero Lechal (roasted lamb)
- Cabrito (goat veal)
- Morcillas (black pudding / blood sausage)
- Embutidos (cured, dried sausages)
- Morcilla de Burgos (sausage from onions, rice, lard, blood and spices)
Watch the Sun go Down
After dinner, which was quite hearty, I went back to my room to enjoy the last views of the Town Square at Blue Hour from behind my wooden shutters. Oh, did I forgot to mention that I managed to get pretty much the best room of the hotel, right out front and center? Haha, of course I didn’t want to make anyone jealous ;)
With the town all silent, it wasn’t hard for me to fall asleep here, but I’m sure the rum had some part in this as well.
More Local Food Suggestions
Other places to taste local food are:
- Hotel Santo Domingo de Silos [See on Tripadvisor >>]
- El Rincón de Silos
- Tres Comedores Climatizados
- The restaurant at the Hospedería Convento San Francisco [See on Tripadvisor >>]
Do You Have More Time in Santo Domingo de Silos?
Visit Historical Burgos
If you have more time in the region, then I can highly recommend to also visit the town of Burgos in the region of Castile and León. From Santo Domingo de Silos. This city is about a hour’s drive and a perfect stop for about a (half) day. The city gate as you can see below is simply stunning, as is the main cathedral. Well worth a visit, it’s one of the most pretty Northern Spain cities.
Come back soon for a link to my full guide on things to see and do in Burgos for one day!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO SANTO DOMINGO DE SILOS!
I hope this article helped you deciding what to do in Santo Domingo de Silos. Here is more information to help you plan your trip:
Time Zone in Santo Domingo de Silos? Spain is in the Central European Summer Time (GMT+2)
Currency in Santo Domingo de Silos? Euro (EUR). Check the latest exchange rate here.
Electrical Plugs in Santo Domingo de Silos? In Spain, you can use plug types C (two round pins) and F (two round pins with two earth clips on the side). The country operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.. We recommend getting [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KLMW9GY’ text=’a universal travel adapter’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thetraveltester-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1798619a-ecb8-11e8-8af7-5980e1425c5f’] to never worry about having the right plug on your travels!
Languages Spoken in Santo Domingo de Silos? While you can get by with English just fine in this part of Spain (especially in the larger villages), in the rural villages most people prefer to speak Spanish (Castilian, or castellano). In the restaurants, you can find English-language menus, but you will find that places such as museums will mostly have Spanish labels, so it’s always wise to download the Spanish language set on the Google Translate app and to learn a few words!
Best time to visit Santo Domingo de Silos? The hottest months to visit Santo Domingo de Silos are July, August, and then June. The months with the lowest chance of significant precipitation are August, July, and then September. The lowest chance of rain or snow occurs around early to mid August, which is also the least humid month (the most humid is January). It is most likely to rain or snow in late October to early November.
Insurance for Santo Domingo de Silos? Make sure to get travel insurance! We recommend checking out worldnomads.com
How to get to Santo Domingo de Silos? Santo Domingo de Silos is about 40 miles / 70 kilometers southeast of the city of Burgos in Northern Spain. There is no train service, so unless you are visiting on an organised tour, you will have to drive here yourself.
How to get around Santo Domingo de Silos? The town of Santo Domingo de Silos is so small, you can walk everywhere easily.
Where to stay in Santo Domingo de Silos? For Santo Domingo de Silos hotels check Booking.com for the best deals >>
Map of Santo Domingo de Silos
Here is a handy Northern Spain map listing all the sights in and around Santo Domingo Silos:
Hotel Tres Coronas de Silos
ADDRESS: Plaza Mayor 6
HOURS: 13:00-16:00 & 20:00-23:00
(Abbey) Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos
ADDRESS: Calle Santo Domingo, 2, 09610
HOURS: 10:00-13:00 and 16:30-18:00 (tue-sat), 16:30-18:00 (sun & holidays), closed Mondays, jan 1, dec 25 and in other occasional monastic celebrations
Museo Los Sonidos de la Tierra
ADDRESS: Calle de Las Condesas 10
HOURS: 10:30-14:00 & 17:00-19:00 Tue-Sat, 17:00-19:00 Sun (May-Oct), 10:00-14:00 & 17:00-19:00 Sat & Sun (Mar, Apr, Nov & Dec), closed Jan & Feb
La Yecla en Burgos
ADDRESS: BU-910, 09610 Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos, Spain
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All Transromanica Articles
Have a look at all our articles of things to see and do along the Transromanica Route:
- Transromanica Road Trip In Germany: Harz Mountains To The Strasse Der Romanik
- One Day In Magdeburg, Germany? Complete Guide To A Perfect City Break!
- Review Arthotel Magdeburg: Unique Hundertwasser Architecture In Germany!
- You Need To See The Incredible Nebra Sky Disk: The Oldest Depiction Of The Cosmos Found In The World!
- One Day In Burgos, Spain? Complete Guide To A Perfect City Break!
- One Day In Zamora, Spain? Complete Guide To A Perfect City Break!
- One Day In Amarante, Portugal? Complete Guide To A Perfect City Break!
- Unique Architecture Road Trip in Portugal: Rota Do Romanico
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Disclaimer: I was invited by Transromanica for the #Transromanica campaign to Santo Domingo de Silos and La Yecla Burgos Desfiladero and was compensated for creating content on our website and social media channels. All photos and words are our own, as always.