Today the Benedictine Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos is famous around the world for its recordings of Gregorian chants , but it is also one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain, The monastery was originally of Visigothic origin but was razed to the ground by the Arabs, and rebuilt by Santo Domingo, whose remains lie in a sarcophagus carved out of the rock. The monastery was located in the village of Santo Domingo de Silos in southern Burgos. Although most of the abbey’s church was demolished and rebuilt during the 18th century, absence of funds saved the cloister from the same fate, and visitors can still enjoy the original 11th- and 12th century carved capitals and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from The Bible, along with figurative elements, such as plants and mythical centaurs and griffins. The cloister is also famous for its single cypress, which was planted in the late 19th century and now towers to a height of 25 metres. The cypress has inspired a number of writers, including the poet Gerardo Diego, whose sonnet El ciprés de Silos (Enhiesto surtidor de sombra y sueño que…) is considered a masterpiece of Spanish literature, and by many as the greatest sonnet in Castillian. Picture from wikipedia above taken by Mark Somoza in the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos in Burgos. Note cypress in middle.
The monastery’s scriptorium was important, and produced a famous finely illuminated Beatus manuscript (a commentary upon the Apocalypse).
This is now in the British Library (full image here). The abbey’s museum is also well worth a visit, housing a collection of works of art, including a large 16th-century monstrance designed for use during religious processions, and an 11th.century silver chalice said to have been commissioned.
A community of monks still live, pray and sing in the abbey, which accpets visitors for three- to eight-day stays wit rooms and meals for 37 euros a day in 2009. However, only male guests are allowed.
As noted above, the monks have become world-famous with the issue of several Gregorian chant albums, including Chant which reached #3 on the Billboard 200 music chart, and was certified as triple platinum, becoming the best-selling album of Gregorian chant ever released.