Visit Pontevedra, city of Galicia
Nestling east of Galicia in the north-western part of Spain, Pontevedra is situated at the bottom of one of the most famous Galician rias. The city is surrounded by hills on the banks of the river Lérez, which give Pontevedra a pleasant quality of life.
A privileged destination, the former maritime and merchant city has been rewarded several times in recent years for its urban quality of life and accessibility.
The ancient houses of the civil and religious buildings of the old town bear witness to this prestigious past, which reached its peak in the 18th century.
Among this architectural heritage stands out with its plateresque Renaissance façade from the 16th century, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Gothic ruins of the 13th century St. Dominic’s church and many private mansions.
On the Río Lérez, the island of Sculptures, Illa das Esculturas in Galician, houses granite sculptures, works of contemporary Spanish and international artists.
The tourist capital of the Rías Baixas, Rías Bajas in Castilian, gastronomy celebrates the flavours of the ocean. Oysters, mussels, empanadas de berberechos, a kind of pie with shells, are sprinkled with Rías Baixas wines of controlled appellation.
A fully pedestrianised city centre
In 1999 Pontevedra decided on a major urban reform giving priority to pedestrians.
In the historic centre, the public space has been revisited to encourage walking, so that children can play on the streets and people with reduced mobility have access to services and shops and limit car pollution.
Today, road traffic has decreased by 90%, pollution has decreased by 60% and foot traffic has increased by 70%.
Casco antiguo, the historical centre
The historic old town, a vast pedestrian plateau, is an entanglement of narrow streets, medieval squares, squares and gardens.
With their popular houses and high-rise houses that reveal the past of the city through their architecture, the beauty of the streets and squares seduces visitors.
The Place de la Leña, where firewood was sold, houses the three mansions that house the Provincial Museum, recognized as one of the most representative museums of Galician archaeology, history and art.
Next door, the Plaza de la Verdura, which until recently was home to a large market garden, has become one of the city’s most important centres. A meeting place to have a drink before continuing the walk to the Plaza del Treuco, named after the Greek archer, to whom, according to a living legend, the foundation of Pontevedra is attributed.
In the upper part, we discover the spectacular Plaza de la Ferraría where the blacksmiths worked. Today, it has become the place where shows organized by the city are held. Among other buildings, there is also the convent of San Francisco and its magnificent gardens.
In addition to its beautifully preserved civil architecture, the old quarter of Pontevedra is distinguished by its important religious architecture. Near the ruins of the former convent of San Domingo, to which only the skeleton of its main part remains, the Basilica of Santa María Mayor, declared a National Monument, was built on the will of the Corporation of Mariners.
In addition, there are convent churches such as the one in San Francisco, or the pilgrimage in the form of a scallop shell, symbol of the pilgrims, and the churches of San Bartolomeu or Santa Clara at the bottom of Plaza Leña.
This historic centre is one of the best preserved in Galicia, witness to the medieval splendour of the city and its maritime vocation.
Barrio A Moureira
Built on a meander of the Río Lérez river, the A Moureira district is historically a quarter of sailors dedicated to fish fishing and salting. It was formerly divided into three parts: the Moureira from above situated near the bridge, the Moureira de la’ barque’ near the’ Banc de pierre’ and the Moureira from below, the current quarter of San Roque which houses the chapel of the same name.
Visit the museums and monuments of Pontevedra
The Pontevedra Museum is divided into five ancient buildings in the historical centre: the Santo Domingo convent, the Sarmiento Palace and the old houses of Castro Monteagudo, García Flóres and Fernández López.
Dating from the 18th century, Castro Monteagudo’s house houses the sections of archaeology, pre-Roman and popular silversmithing as well as Italian, Flemish and Spanish paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Also from the XVIIIth century, the Casa de García López is also home to jet objects, engravings, Sargadelos earthenware and religious sculptures. The rooms of the Fernández López House, still on the edge of the Plaza de Leña, display Spanish paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Palace of Sarmiento, near the church of San Bartolomeu, Calle Padre Sarmiento, is dedicated to contemporary Galician painting and temporary exhibitions, while the ruins of the convent of San Domingo open-air architectural remains such as Roman and Gothic capitals, sarcophagi and tombstones.
Main Access: Fernández López Building, Calle Pasentería, 2-12.
Timetables: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm, Sundays and holidays from 11am to 2pm. Closed on Monday. Free admission.
Santa María la Mayor Basilica
A jewel of architecture and an example of Elizabethan Gothic style in Galicia, the Basilica of St. Mary was built by Joao Noble and Cornelius of Holland in the 16th century on the orders of the Corporation of Fishermen and Mariners.
In its interior, to the left of the south gate, it displays a sculpture of the Christ of the Good Journey, El Cristo de Buen Viaje, to whom fishermen recommended themselves before leaving for the ocean.
Access: Plaza Santa María.
Visits: every day from 10am to 12pm and then from 5pm to 9pm. Free admission.
Capela de Peregrina. The Pilgrim Church
The strange shell-shaped form of Santiago and the Marian vocation of Peregrina, indicate that it is entirely dedicated to the pilgrims of the Way of Compostela.
Built between 1778 and 1832 near the church of the former convent of San Francisco, it is a baroque style with neoclassical elements, but its form of scallop shell flanked by two towers attracts attention.
Its interior houses an image of the 20th century Virgin of the Peregrina, patron saint of the city and province of Pontevedra, and a neoclassical altarpiece from 1789 by Melcor de Prado.
Access: Plaza de la Peregrina.
Visits: every day from 9am to 9pm. Free admission.
Chapel of San Roque
Erected in the marine district of A Moureira, near the port, to protect the city from plague and the boats that were infected, if its origin is not very clear, it has undergone many changes over the centuries. It was transferred to its present location in 1861, while retaining early elements of its construction. Nearby: the Plaza de Toros built in 1892.
Access: Rúa Nostramos Lourido.
San Francisco Church
Built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in Gothic style, it is part of the begging churches of Galicia. It houses the 13th century tomb of the admiral and poet Payo Gómez Chamiro.
Access: Plaza de Ourense, 5.
Visits: open every day from 7:30am to 12:45pm and then from 4:30pm to 6:45pm. Free admission.
What is called the Gardens of Vicenti is a complex comprising three distinct areas: the Alameda, the poplar grove separated from the Garden of Eduardo Vicenti and the pedestrian paseo of Las Palmeras by the pedestrian walkway of Monteros Ríos, the buildings of the valley of Inclán and the Provincial Council of Pontevedra.
Typical of the expansion of urban space in the early twentieth century, the Avenue and Alameda were built on the monastery’s large garden. It extended from the outskirts of the old Moureira district to what is now the Faculty of Fine Arts.
On the other side of the Paseo de Monteros Ríos, we discover the Plaza de España. Accompanied by Ayutamiento, the Town Hall, the Government Delegation and the Gardens of Doctor Marescot.
On the other side of the Park Alameda del Arquitecto Sesmeros, its official name, and opposite Ayutamiento stands the monument to the Heroes of Puente Sampaio dating from 1911 in memory of a victory over the Napoleonic troops in 1808.
Between the Valle-Inclán Institute and the Deputation, the gardens of Columbus let us discover a beautiful rose garden and emblematic camellias.
The gardens of Vicenti are accessed by a splendid alley bordered by palm trees and magnolias. Inside, numerous species including cedars from Lebanon, small intimate gardens with benches, a aviary and ponds, a playground enrich this small urban eden.
Campo Lameiro Rock Art Archaeological Park
A hundred or so rock engravings dot the archaeological park site, but not all of them are easily accessible, so the visit offers 28 representative of the park’s outdoors. This 3 km discovery trail is equipped with areas for breaks and shows visitors the main engravings of the park, horses, spirals, deer and keys to differentiate them from each other.
Opened in 2011, the interpretation centre offers a good understanding of rock art and an interesting report in which it is children, farmers and locals who express their feelings and interpretations on this primitive rock art.
A Bronze Age village has also been reconstructed: a discovery of the lifestyles of 4000 years ago accompanied by workshops for young people: making fire, hunting, engraving…
Access: Campo Lameiro at 20 km northeast of Pontevedra (via PO-542, N-541, PO-230).
Visits: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm (11am to 9pm in July-August), Sundays from 10am to 3pm, until 8pm during Holy Week. Admission: guided tours 1 hour: 5,50 € with admission. Free visit: 4,50 €. Reduced price: 2,70 €, workshops: 2 €.
Ría d’ Arousa
The Ría de Arousa, an important site of summer tourism, is the largest and most carved out of the rivers of Galicia, and is where the Ulla River flows into. Until recently, Vilagarcía de Arousa has become a large industrial port, and the O Grove Peninsula, like Vilagarcía and other coastal villages, is home to thousands of summer and holidaymakers.
Sabucedo is a small village in the middle of the nature of the Pontevedre hinterland. Every year in July, Sabucedo hosts the’ Rapa das Bestas’, a typical Galician festival.
The men of some villages gather to gather the semi-wild horses that wander in the mountains to shave their hair (the Galician verb rapar means to shave) and eventually give them care.
Located on the territory of the municipality of A Estrada, this tradition dates back to the 16th century. A true initiation rite, the three wrestlers who had to immobilize the horses had no instruments. If visitors can accompany the descent of the horses, only men initiated since their childhood and having acquired this know-how can fight against these turbulent animals.
“Su valor sólo era comparable al de los aloitadores de Sabucedo”. His courage was equalled only by the Sabucedo wrestlers. Camillo José Cela.
Location: 50 km east of Pontevedra via N-541 to Cerdedo and then PO- 2201.
The second largest city in Galicia by population (295,000 ha in 2015), Vigo is an industrial and port city that hides its charm in the narrow streets of Cidale Vella, the old town.
The old town, declared of tourist and historical interest, is built near the port around the fishermen’s quarter of O Nerbés. We discover the arcades of the Plaza de la Constitucíon from where the alleys bordered by fishermen’s houses start.
Maritime city on the shores of the southernmost ría of Galicia, the ría de Vigo, it is a good starting point to visit the islands Cíes of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands. In addition, its port benefits from transatlantic wharves, marinas and nautical and sporting activities, a fishing port with its industry of canned fish…
Near the port, just next to Santa María Cathedral, the Pedra Market, Rúa Teófilo Llorente, would offer the best oysters in Galicia. It is in this O Castro district that stands one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the city and the Ría: the Castro de Vigo next to Castelo and its gardens. To the south of the city, the Municipal Park of Vigo houses the Municipal Museum between neoclassical gardens and century-old trees.
Location: Vigo is 45 km south of Pontevedra (N-550) and 90 km from Orense (A-52).
Port located at the entrance of the Ría de Vigo, Baiona was founded in 140 BC. The small town of Baiona (12,000 inhabitants) was the first European town to learn of the discovery of what Christopher Columbus considered to be the Indies when the Pinta de Martin Alonso entered the waters of its port on March 1,1493.
Only three days before the Columbus Niña arrived in Lisbon, it was from the walls of the fortress of Monterreal, which overlooks the Bay of Baiona, which was fortified as early as the 2nd century BC, that Pinta was seen on its return.
A city museum also commemorates the event, which is also celebrated on the first weekend of March.
Opposite Baiona and at the entrance to the ría, the Cíes Islands offer a preserved nature. They have a campsite and are connected to the mainland by boat during the high season. Several daily connections at this time of year, but a limited number of daily visitors. Along with other islands of the Pontevedra Ría, they are part of the Maritime and Terrestrial Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia.
Location: Baiona, 35 km from Vigo (AG-57) and 80 km from Pontevedra (via N-550 and AG-57), is in the south-west of the province. Several bus connections to Vigo and Pontevedra.
In the extreme south-west of Pontevedra province, A Guarda, separated from Portugal by the Rio Miño on the banks of which it is established, has been distinguished by the European Commission as a European destination of excellence (EDEN) thanks to its sustainable tourism offer.
Located facing the Atlantic and dominated by Mount Santa Tecla, A Guarda, is famous for the lobsters sold in its fishing port. From Cape Silleiro, the coastal road leading to A Guarda is one of the most beautiful coastal roads on the Spanish Atlantic coast.
The landscapes surrounding it are mountainous, fluvial and maritime. On Mount Tecla, the old fortifications (castro) are among the most important representations of Celtic culture in Galicia.
Location: 110 km south-west of Pontevedra and 60 km from Vigo via the roads N-550, AG-57 and PO-552.