It is located on a hillside overlooking the river Ebro, at the beginning of the hidden Manzanedo Valley, in the Merindades de Burgos, within the natural park of Alto Ebro and Rudrón. It was one of the most important Cistercian monasteries in the north of Burgos, being the reference and central axis of the development of a large part of the Manzanedo Valley. Before the Monastery of Santa María de Rioseco was established, the valley and its surroundings had already been chosen by hermits to live their retreat and spirituality. The monastery of Santa María de Rioseco is mentioned for the first time in the year 1.171 in a writing in which the sons of Martino Martini de Uizozes donated it to the Cister of Quintanajuar.
King Alfonso VIII, in his eagerness to pacify the border between Castile and Navarre, through donations convinces the monks of Quintanajuar to move to San Cipriano Montes de Oca in La Rioja. This happened in 1.184, but twenty years later, without the permission of their superiors or the king, the Cistercian community returned to Rioseco, to the same place from which they had left. Due to an important flood that devastated the monastery in 1216, the monks decided, this time with the approval of the General Chapter, to build a new building in a nearby hillock, the place where it is today, to which they moved in 1236. From here the community of monks begins to consolidate forming a round preserve around the monastery, extending its agricultural and livestock domain. Entire families worked on their farms, mills, fullers and sales. It is even said that the monks introduced fruit trees into the Valley.
This Cistercian monastery exercised its dominion over a large part of the northern area of Burgos and came to have a significant number of members in the community. In the monastic enclosure, whose first construction can be dated between the 13th and 14th centuries and which consisted of a church, cloister, chapterhouse and inn, there were also the monks' quarters, but separated from the inn and the hospital where travellers and the sick were cared for. The monastery later underwent various reforms, had its Renaissance period and in the seventeenth century faces, within the Baroque, the construction of the current cloister and important works inside the church and dependencies of the monastery. In the 19th century wars and political ups and downs forced the monks to come and go from the monastery. French soldiers confiscated their belongings and forced them to leave. Years later the liberal revolt put them in the same position and the monastery remained as a warehouse, parish and cemetery, until in 1835 with the disentailment of Mendizábal the monastic goods were put up for sale and became the property of the Arquiaga family, who at the end of the 19th century ceded it to the Archdiocese of Burgos.
The church became a parish church and maintained the cult until the sixties of the twentieth century. When the visitor reaches the ruins of the Monastery of Santa María de Rioseco, he feels as if years of history, legend and mystery surrounded him as he walks through the church, the Herrerian-style cloister, the beautiful spiral staircase, the chapel or the chapter house. There are several interesting pieces of the monastery that can be admired in the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Vileña and in the Provincial Museum of Burgos. In addition, the main altarpiece of the monastery church currently presides over the main chapel of the Diocesan Seminary of Burgos, it is a baroque altarpiece in the centre of which the beautiful image of the Virgin Mary surrounded by cherubs stands out.
For a while now and to celebrate the volunteers involved in the restoration and maintenance of the ruins of the monastery is held on the Sunday of the week of volunteering the "Feast of volunteering. In addition to the religious service, the day is completed with a solidarity meal, exhibitions and concerts.
The Monastery of Santa María de Rioseco was inhabited for centuries by white monks of the Cistercian Order, so called because of the colour of their habit which differentiates them from the monks of the Cluny who wear it black and are known as black monks.
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The church of the primitive monastery of Rioseco, Rioseco the "Old", which according to documents was known as Santa María de Suso, was located a little further north of the current monastery and remained within the land that the monastery owned and which was where it had vines, only some ruins remain of it and the memory of its name the church of Our Lady of Parrales.
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From any direction it is best to go to the small village of Incinillas in the middle of the N-232, from this town part the road BU-V-5741 that goes into the Valley of Manzanedo. Also by this same road but in opposite direction, from the N-623 between Burgos and Santader we can reach the monastery along part of the course of the river Ebro. In addition we can count on the service of bus that covers the route and that has stop in Incinillas.
After travelling approximately 3 km from Incinillas in the direction of Manzanedo you will find, shortly after passing the crossroads with the road that leads to San Martín el Rojo, or shortly after passing a small dam on the river Ebro if you arrive from the interior of the Manzanedo Valley, a lonely sign that, next to the road, marks the dirt track that leads to the Monastery of Santa María de Rioseco. Only authorised vehicles can drive along this track, so we have to leave our car parked in the small space that exists at the level of the road and walk the short but steep distance that separates us from the monastery.
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Muy interesante además de bonito y el entorno simplemente magnífico.
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