WHAT YOU CANNOT LOSE IN THE FRENCH WAY
The French Way is the most important in all Ways of St. James. The French Way crosses in the territory of Melide the villages of O Leboreiro, Furelos, Melide and Santa María de Melide.
The French Way goes into Melide across the little village of Santa María de Leboreiro. In the Codex Calixtinus (12th century), it appears as Campus Leoprarius, which means 'mountain of hares'. From its hospital of pilgrims -recorded in the 12th century and restored by Vasco de Ulloa in the 15th century-, there only remain two walls with the Ulloa's coat of arms. In front of the ancient hospital, we can find a cabeceiro (a raised granary) -made up with interwaved sticks- reminds those ancient celeiros (granaries) used to keep corn.
Santa María do Leboreiro Church is Gothic in style, although some typical Romanesque conceptions and ornamental motifs.
Inside the church, we find an interesting collection of religious sculptures from different periods and styles. It is also preserved a Renaissance panel of wall paintings.
Following the French Way towards Furelos, we can find, in Desicabo, a Medieval bridge over Seco river. It only has one arch.
Village with an ancient origin, it was recorded in 12th century documents and it maintains part of its medieval structure. Its medieval bridge is one of the jewels of civil arquitecture in all Ways of St. James. Without a doubt whatsoever, it is the most beautiful bridge in the whole Galician route of the French Way. It is mentioned in the monastic cartularies of Sobrado (12th century) and it was partially remodeled in the 18th century.
San Xoán de Furelos Church, just next to the French Way, preserves part of its Medieval Romanesque architecture, and more specifically, its southern wall. Inside, on the right side, we can find the impressive Neogothic altarpiece of the Santo Cristo, which was created by the sculptor born in Furelos, Manuel Cagide.
The Ethnographical Museum of Melide was recently opened, just next to the church and the bridge.
Melide is the capital of the region of Terra de Melide, and it is made up by the councils of Melide, Santiso, Toques and Sobrado. Speaking about historical monuments, it is the most interesting village in the whole Galician route.
The current St. Roque Chapel was built in 1949 with materials coming from the demolished Medieval St. Peter and St. Roque churches. The main façade is one of the most beautiful in Galician Medieval art and it comes from the ancient St. Peter church. Inside, there are the medieval sepulchres of the public notaries from Melide Diego García and Roi López, and also the last one's wife, Inés Eanes.
Next to the church, it is placed the so called transept of Melide, which for most people it is the oldest transept in Galicia, probably dated from the 14th century.
Sancti Spiritus Church belonged to the disappeared monastery or convent of the Third Order of Saint Francis, which was founded in the 14th century. It is an excellent example of the continuity in space and time. From the ancient church, it only remains a little side chapel, with dome and triumphal lancet arch.
In the 15th century, and more specifically in 1498, Sancho Sánchez de Ulloa rebuilds the church of the convent in the memory of his mother, Inés de Castro. Masters Xan do Llano and Xan Casal were in charge of the site management. The result was a church with a rectangular apse completed with a crossed-ribbed vault. There are also from this time the two Gothic side sepulchres in memory of Leonor de Mendoza and Inés de Castro. The magnificent major altarpiece, Baroque in style, was sculpted in 1690 by Francisco de Castro Canseco, one of the most important sculptors in Galician Baroque of the second half of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. Inside, there are also two Neoclassical altarpieces, apart from interesting Baroque and Neoclassical sculptural pieces.
During the 18th century, the church will be extended with the construction of a barrel nave.
From this time it is also dated the main façade of the church, which is placed in a side, looking towards the square. The tower, also from the 18th century, is similar to the one that we can find in San Francisco, in Santiago de Compostela.
In the west of Convento square there is a Baroque country house, with its chapel, the so-called St. Anthony Obra Pía. It was founded in the 1671 by the archbishop born in Melide, Mateo Segade Bugueiro. It is also going to be known as the Colegiata, because, in its origins, it followed teaching purposes. From the year 1960, it is the town hall.
The design of the Baroque façade of the chapel is attributted to Domingo de Andrade, the most prestigious Galician architect in that time.
The two Baroque and stony worshipper statues were sculpted in granite in 1674 by Mateo de Prado, one of the most important sculptors of that time.
The other remarkable monument placed in the surroundings of the square is the Terra de Melide Museum. It was designed by the architect from Melide Xulio Álvarez and it is built over an ancient hospital of pilgrims in the 15th century. It is preserved the façade from 1502.
Carmen chapel is built in 1741, at the top of a Prerroman fort, in the same place where the castle was built in the Middle Ages. Inside, it stands out the altarpiece created in 1755. We can also find a extremely beautiful image of the Virgin of Carmen, dated from the end of the 18th century, which was attributed to Gambino-Ferreiro's workshop or to its disciples.
SANTA MARÍA DE MELIDE
Santa María de Melide church, listed as National Monument, is the jewel of the Romanesque in Melide. Inside, we can find figurative capitals, characterized by a strong symbolism and by its Renaissance paintings. Its Romanesque altar is one of the few Galician Romanesque altars which have remained until present day.