Very close to the Picos de Europa, near the beautiful town of Potes, in the heart of Cantabria, we find the spectacular Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, one of the places that every Christian should visit at some point in their lives.
The monastery, inhabited by 4 Franciscan monks, is a great architectural jewel in the Gothic style with Cistercian elements and is believed to date back to the 6th century when it was founded by the Bishop of Palencia, Toribio.
We tell you the best things to see in the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. If you are in Santander we recommend you take a very special excursion, the pilgrimage route to the Liébana Monastery.
History of the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana
It is not known for sure when the monastery began to be built, but there are references to a Cantabrian bishop named Toribio who preached in these lands before retiring with other companions to live in Liébana. It was that moment when the monastery dedicated to San Martín de Turieno was founded.
But the history of the monastery changed for Toribio de Astorga (coincidentally his name was the same) when his body was transferred to it along with some relics that he had brought from the Holy Land, among them the Lignum Crucis, which is said to be the largest piece the cross on which Jesus Christ died.
That piece of cross made Pope Julius II grant the Lebaniego Jubilee Year in 1512, receiving numerous pilgrims from that moment, making it one of the 5 holy places of Christianity along with Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Jerusalem and Caravaca de la Cruz.
Currently consecrated to Santo Toribio de Liébana, it is a Franciscan monastery after its re-foundation in 1961 after the Mendizábal Disentailment expelled the ecclesiastical community.
What to see in the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana
The dimensions of the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana are already striking as you get closer and are accentuated when you enter its church, the most important part of the monastery, in Gothic style and whose construction began in 1256 although it has subsequently undergone numerous modifications.
From its exterior we must highlight the Puerta del Perdón, Romanesque in style and which only opens in jubilee years after the 3 knocks that the Bishop of Santander gives on it as tradition dictates. However, the facades do not present great decoration and their style is very sober.
Inside we find 3 naves, the first being higher and we must highlight the Chapel of the Lignum Crucis, in baroque style and with a circular floor plan and where the most valuable relic of the monastery is located.
In the surroundings of the Monastery we find other places of interest that you also have to visit. One of them is the Cueva Santa, built, according to tradition, in the 6th century by Toribio de Palencia to serve as his retreat. This theory is not proven but its decoration and architecture do not indicate that it could not be so.
Other places of interest are the ruins of the Sanctuary of Santa Catalina, built in the 12th century and which preserves its old Romanesque belfry and Gothic presbytery, the Hermitage of San Juan de la Casería and the Hermitage of San Miguel.
You can find more information on the official website of the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana.