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Flag of GaliciaPontevedra

The province of Pontevedra lies in the far south-west of Galicia. To the north is the province of Corunna (A Coruña), and to the east is Lugo and Orense (Ourense).

In the south the river Miño lies between Pontevedra and Portugal, whereas in the west we find the well known Rías Bajas (Lower Rías) with their popular beaches that border on the Atlantic Ocean. The entire province covers an area of more than 4,400 sq. km and consequently, is the smallest of the four Galician provinces.

Nevertheless, it is the province with the most varied scenery of all and with the highest density of population (204 inhabitants per sq. km in 1988), most of whom are located in the areas nearest the sea. Its climate, generally speaking, is of a subtropical nature, with mild temperatures and an abundance of rainfall.

The City

The capital of the province, located at the head of its ría, has a little under 50,000 inhabitants and its origins go back to the time of the Romans. It enjoyed its moment of greatest importance towards the end of the Middle Ages and the start of the Modern Era (from about the middle of the 15th c until the middle of the 16th c). During this time it became one of the most important cities in Galicia, especially thanks to the great wealth brought about by the abundance of sardines in the ría.

Pontevedra has a fine monumental heritage, with the vast majority of its most representative constructions being located within the old town. There are some interesting squares including those of La Herrería (A Ferrería), Teucro, La Leña (A Leña) and La Pedreira (A Pedreira), as well as conventual churches such as San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Santo Domingo. The latter are all excellent examples of Galician - Gothic architecture, having been built during the late 14th and early 16th c). Other monuments of interest include the Basilica of Santa María, where we find a harmonious combination of the late-Gothic, Manueline and Plateresque styles. Work was begun during the late 15th and early 16th c, and was paid for by the powerful Seamen's Guild which had very strong links with the city; the Church of San Bartolom, which formerly belonged to the Society of Jesus and is generally believed to be the first example of Baroque architecture to be introduced into Galicia. It was begun towards the end of the 17th c, and completed in 1714, and probably contains the finest reredoses and sculptures in the city; and finally the Shrine of La Virgen Peregrina, a clear testimony of the passing of the Pilgrims' Way to Santiago through Pontevedra. It was started in 1778 and was designed by Antonio Souto.

Not far from Pontevedra there is the Monastery of Lérez, which has important remains from the 16th and 18th centuries. Meanwhile, the Monastery of Tenorio, in the town of Cotobad (Cotobade), has interesting 16th c cloisters.

The Provincial Museum of Pontevedra

This Museum, created in 1927 by the Provincial Council, is today one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in Galicia. At present it occupies five buildings: the remains of the Church of Santo Domingo, the Palaces of Castro Monteagudo and García Flórez (both of which date back to the late 18th century), and lastly the Fernández López Building (constructed in the 1960's and enlarged in the 70's). Apart from the valuable and varied exhibits on display, ranging from prehistoric times to the present day, the Museum is also a very active research center. It contains interesting documentary archives, very important graphic archives with nearly 100,000 photographs, and a magnificent library that has over 75,000 books.

The Monastery of Poyo and Combarro

The Monastery of Poyo (Poio) dates back to the high Middle Ages, when it was in the hands of the Benedictine Order. However, it was left abandoned in 1835, and it was not until 1890 that it was once more inhabited, this time by friars of the Order of La Merced.

The structure consists of sections that date mainly from the 16th to 18th centuries. One of the most outstanding parts of the church, a fine example of the late Galician Classicist style with Baroque elements, which was completed in 1708 and was designed by Fray Gabriel de las Casas. Yet another is the processional cloister, dating from the 16th c, which was the work of the Portuguese architect Mateo López.

The Monastery has one of the most important libraries in Galicia, containing, amongst other treasures, the extraordinary legacy of the poet Rey Soto.

Not far from the Monastery of Poyo stands the small town of Combarro. Its streets, houses and buildings have adapted themselves to both the demands of the life of the sea and that of the land, and the complete ensemble is one of the most interesting sites in Galicia.

Just a few kilometers from Combarro we find Sangenjo (Sanxenxo), one of the most important tourist resorts on the Pontevedra ría.

The Monastery of Armenteira

This Monastery has been on record since 1151 and has strong links with San Ero, known to be one of the characters related to the medieval legend of the visionary monk.

From about 1161 to the expulsion of the monks in 1835, the Monastery of Armenteira (Meis) belonged to the Cistercian Order. At the present time, a group of nuns from the Convent of Alloz in Navarre are preparing to move in and inhabit the place once again.

The medieval Church of Armenteira, which was begun in 1167 and completed around 1225, remains practically intact today. It constitutes one of the finest examples of Cistercian architecture in all Spain, and has such an exceptional characteristic as a ribbed dome which covers the central section of the transept - a clearly Mudéjar trait. The remaining buildings that go to form the Monastery are of perhaps lesser interest and date from between the 16th and 18th c.

El Salnes Valley

This valley lies mainly between the Arosa (Arousa) and Pontevedra rías and takes in several towns and villages, including Caldas de Reyes (Caldas de Reis), Cambados, Villagarcía de Arosa (Villagarcía de Arousa) and Villanueva de Arosa (Vilanova de Arousa). There is also a wide selection of monuments contained within the valley, particularly those from the Romanesque period, and examples include the Parish Church of San Martín de Sobrán (Villagarcía de Arosa) and the Church of San Vicente in the Monastery of Nogueira (Meis). Baroque monuments to be found are the Convent of Vista Alegre and the O Rial mansion (Villagarcía de Arosa), as well as the Rua Nova mansion at Villanueva de Arosa which has strong ties with the writer Valle-Inclán and has now been converted into a hotel. There is also no lack of Gothic monuments, such as the Church of Santa Mariña at Cambados, and Renaissance architecture is well represented by Vista Alegre Palace and the Parish Church of Santiago de Carril (Villagarcía de Arosa), and Fefiñanes Palace at Cambados.

The peninsula of E Grove (O Grove) joins up to El Salnés valley in the west and gives access to the Island of La Toja (A Toxa) via a bridge. This is one of the most important tourist resorts in the province of Pontevedra.

A few kilometers outside the valley we find the so-called "Towers of the West" (Catoira). They stand at the mouth of the river Ulla and would appear to be of Roman origin. During the time of the Bishops Sisnando, Cresconio and especially Gelmírez (at the beginning of the 12th c), they underwent extensive alterations and enlargements.

The Morrazo Peninsular

With the Atlantic Ocean lying to the west and the Pontevedra and Vigo rías to the north and south respectively, the densely populated Morrazo Peninsula takes in the small towns and villages of Marín, Bueu, Cangas, Moaña and Vilaboa.

The Peninsula has an extraordinarily rich archaeological heritage, including some particularly important remains from the Megalithic period (e.g. the Chan de Armada Dolmen near Marín and Vilaboa, and the Chan de Arquiña Dolmen at Moaña), and the Bronze Age (especially the archaeological sites known as O Fixon and Lavapés, both at Moaña, and the Mogor rock drawings at Marín. From an architectural point of view, there is a fine selection of Romanesque churches, including Santo Tom de Piñeiro (Marín), Santa María de Cela (Bueu), San Andrés de Hio (Cangas), San Martín (Moaña) and another San Martín (Vilaboa). Baroque constructions are the Parish Church of Santa María de Darbo and the western section of the Church of San Salvador de Coiro (both in Cangas), the Santa Cruz and O Cuadro country mansions (the former at Bueu and the latter, which also preserves some valuable remains from earlier periods, at Marín). The most outstanding structure on the Morrazo Peninsula is undoubtedly the Collegiate Church of Santiago (St. James) at Cangas. In the same way as the Church of Santa María at Pontevedra, it has great ties with the powerful Seamen's Guild, and constitutes one of the great Galician creations of the 16th c. The principles of late-Gothic architecture are seen to be fused with purely Renaissance traits. Also at Cangas, and not far from the Church of San Andrés de Hío, there is a magnificent transept, built during the second half of the 19th c by the famous architect A. Cerviño.

Another interesting construction, this time at Mar, is the Naval School building which was officially opened in 1943.


Vigo, with 271,128 inhabitants, is the most highly populated city in the province. It is an important industrial and fishing center, and its most rapid growth and development have taken place during the last 150 years.

Vigo has a magnificent archaeological and artistic heritage. Included in the first category is the archaeological site known as Monte del Castro (Monte do Castro), which is dated sometime between the 2nd c B.C. and the 3rd or 4th c A.D.

Thanks to the excavations carried out in the last few years we now know a great deal about what life was really like here all those centuries ago. From an artistic point of view, the list of constructions is quite long and includes all those contained within the city's "old quarter", the Romanesque Churches of Santiago de Bembrive, Santa María de Castrelos and San Salvador de Corujo (Coruxo), the mansions of La Pastora (A Pastora) and Castrelos - the latter having a beautifully maintained garden following a French design, the Neo-classical Collegiate Church of Santa María (begun in 1815 and designed by Melchor de Prado), and also a magnificent series of eclectic and Modernist buildings.

The Municipal Museum of Vigo

This is located within the Quiñones de León Mansion (Castrelos) and is divided into three sections: Archaeology, the History of the City, and Art. The first section exhibits those remains that were found in the city, in particular from the excavations at Monte del Castro. The second section contains objects relating to the War of Independence, whereas the third section has an outstanding collection of the 20th c Galician painting, which has recently been added to with works that where donated by the artist Laxeiro. The latter are exhibited in a separate building which bears the artist's name.

Bayona and the Miñor Valley

The town of Bayona (Baiona) is today one of the most thriving tourist resorts in the province of Pontevedra. During the low Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Era it was very important from a historic point of view. It was, in fact, the first place in the Old World to learn of the discovery of America, since on April 1st, 1493, the caravel Pinta put into port here following the historic voyage.

Bayona has an outstanding monumental and artistic heritage. One of its most important constructions is the old Collegiate Church, which was completed during the latter half of the 13th c, and preserves certain similarities to the neighbouring church belonging to the Monastery of Oya (Oia). Inside can also be found a fine collection of guild marks. Mention should also be made of the Transept of La Trinidad (a late-Gothic work dating from around the end of the 15th c and the beginning of the 16th c), the Chapel of Santa Liberata (18th c), and in particular Monte Real castle, which has now been converted into a Parador.

Outside the town we find the enormous Shrine of the Virgin of La Roca, a work that was carried out in 1910 following a design by Antonio Palaçios.

The remaining area of the Miñor valley takes in the small towns of Gondomar and Nigrán. One of the most important sites is the Visigothic Church of San Juan de Panjón (Panxón) at Nigrán, which dates back to the latter half of the 7th c. Close by is the Church of El Mar, built by Antonio Paredes between 1932 and 1937. Other interesting monuments include the Romanesque Churches of Santa Eulalia de Donas (Gondomar) and Santiago de Parada (Nigrán); la Ramallosa (A Ramallosa) bridge, which may have been of Roman origin but was totally reconstructed during the low Middle Ages; and the Cea and Urzaiz mansions (both in Nigrán), which were built in the 18th c but have some later additions, and those of Gondomar, La Touza (A Touza) and Villarés ( all three at Gondomar).

The Monastery of Oya (Oia)

The origins of this Monastery are somewhat confused. It would appear that it already existed in the year 1137, although it was in 1185, with the arrival of the Order of the Cistercians, that it reached its most splendorous moment. The church, begun towards the end of the 12th c and of extraordinary simplicity, is the westernmost example of the design adopted by San Bernardo (St. Bernard) at Clavaral Abbey. It was altered during the 18th c when the present-day façade and the west end tower were built, and the vast majority of the other buildings connected with the Monastery also date from this time.

Mount Santa Tecla

Mount Santa Tecla (Santa Trega), near to La Guardia (A Guarda) in the south-western section of the province, offers magnificent panoramic views out across the Atlantic Ocean. At its feet flows the rive Miño.

The mountain itself is the location of an interesting archaeological site, work on which was begun in 1914 and then completed in 1988. The excavations have uncovered a large settlement, and many objects found here can be seen in the Museum that has been set up on the summit.

In the area surrounding La Guardia there are several Romanesque churches (e.g. Santa María de Tomiño, San Vicente de Barrantes and Santa María de Tebra, all of which are situated in Tomiño).

Also in Tomiño the traveller may visit Tebra :Tower, the only surviving medieval remain of what must have once been a great 15th c fortress.

Tuy (Tui)

The frontier town of Tuy (Tui) lies close to the river Miño and is one of the most attractive and picturesque places in Galicia. It was particularly important during the Middle Ages.

Tuy also has one of the richest, most varied and surprising historical and artistic heritages in Galicia. The most outstanding construction without a doubt is the Cathedral, located in the highest area of the town. Work on it began in the middle of the 12th c, and its Romanesque traits were clearly derived from those used on the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. It was completed around the year 1225 with Gothic additions, and during the low Middle Ages underwent several alterations. The new west end, for example, dates from the end of the 15th c, and the arches that link the columns in the aisles were introduced between 1794-95 by Domingo Novás. This was in order to solve the problems of stability which had increased following the earthquakes suffered in Lisbon in 1755 and 1761. The Cathedral has a magnificent collection of religious objects, many of which are on display in the Cathedral Museum. The Cloisters, built in the latter half of the 13th c and restored during the 15th c, are the only ones of their kind in all Galicia that are in a perfect state of preservation.

Apart from the Cathedral, other monuments of interest to be found within the town include the Church of San Bartolom de Rebordanes (Rebordans), the oldest in Tuy; the Convent of Santo Domingo (whose Gothic church was begun in the 15th c and completed in the 18th c); and the Chapel of San Telmo, built over the house where, in the 13th c , the town's patron saint lived and died. The present construction was built in the 18th c following a design by Fray Mateo de Jes? María. The Diocesan Museum, located not far from the Cathedral, contains some very interesting exhibits.

Not far from Tuy we find the Mansion of San Jos de Vista Alegre, and, in neighbouring Salceda de Caselas, those of La Picona (A Picona), Aballe and El Pegullal (O Pegullal). The most attractive of all of them was built in the 18th c.

The Region of El Condado

This region includes the lands situated in the south-eastern section of the province as far as their boundary with the river Miño. Of great archaeological interest is the so-called Castro de Troña at Puenteareas (Ponteareas), a site which is at present being excavated and which can be dated from sometime between the 6th c B.C. and the 1st c A.D. In addition there are several Romanesque churches, including that of San Pedro de Angoares at Puenteareas. The Gothic church of the old Cistercian Monastery of Santa María de la Franqueira (A Franqueira) at La Caniza (A Caniza) dates mainly from the middle of the 14th c. Its main image is brought out during the festive celebrations of a very popular romería (religious gathering). Other Gothic constructions include Sobroso Castle (Mondariz), a fortress which was closely connected with the powerful Sarmiento family and played an important role in the events that took place in Galicia during the end of the Middle Ages. It has recently been restored and will soon be the location of the Museum of El Condado.

Constructions dating from more modern times include the fortifications of Salvatierra de Miño, which were undertaken towards the middle of the 17th c during the war with Portugal, and the 18th c Mansion of Barcia de Mera (Covelo), whose entrance doorway is one of the most outstanding of its genre in all Galicia.

Tierra de Montes

This region takes in the towns and villages of Cerdedo and Forcarey (Forcarei), as well as the neighbouring La Estrada (A Estrada), Campolameiro and Cotobad (Cotobade).

Its rich archaeological heritage is typified by the abundance of rock drawings to be encountered, most of which date back to the Bronze Age, and are particularly common in and around Campolameiro and Cotobad, close to the river Lérez.

From an artistic point of view this area preserves some interesting Romanesque churches, in particular the one of Santa María de Acibeiro at Forcarey (Forcarei). This belonged to a Monastery that was first documented in 1135 and became a part of the Cistercian Order in 1225. The remaining buildings connected with the monastery, today lying for the most part in ruins, date from the 17th and 18th centuries. It was during this time that the region of Tierra de Montes enjoyed a renewed importance and provided many of the great artists and master builders.

The Regions of Tierra de Deza and Tierra de Tradeza

These two regions, located in the north-eastern section of the province, take in the towns and villages of Golada (Agolada), Dozón, Lalín, Rodeiro, Silleda, and Villa de Cruces (Villa de Cruces), with Lalín being the largest and most important of them all.

These regions are particularly outstanding for their monumental heritage, especially in the form of Romanesque constructions. Fine examples include the Churches of San Pedro de Ansemil (Silleda), which also preserves some magnificent pre-Romanesque remains; San Salvador de Camanzo (Villa de Cruces); Santiago de Breixa (Silleda); San Pedro de Dozón (Dozón); San Esteban de Carboentes (Rodeiro); San Andrés de Orrea (Golada); San Miguel de Goyás (Goiás, Lalín); and in particular San Lorenzo de Carboeiro (Silleda). The latter formed part of the Monastery which was founded in the 10th c. Work began in 11171 along clear Burgundian lines and the completed construction is deemed to be one of the finest works of its time. Its portals bear many similarities with the "Portal of La Gloria" in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

There is also an abundance of Baroque constructions to be encountered in the area. Those of a religious nature include the Shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados at Abades (Silleda), which was built during the latter half of the 18th c following a design by Melchor de Rici. Civic constructions come in the form of a list of 18th c mansion houses including the ones of Borraxeiros (Golada), Donfreán, Des and Linares (all three at Lalín), Camba and Trasulfe (both at Rodeiro), and finally Paizás at Silleda.

Tierras de la Estrada

The region of Tierra de la Estrada, lying close to the river Ulla, also preserves a magnificent architectural heritage of both the Romanesque and Baroque styles. The former style includes such churches as San Jorge de Codeseda, Santa María de Frades, Santa María de Lionil, San Pedro and Santo Tomás de Ancorados, San Esteban de Oca, San Martín de Riob, and Santiago de Tabeir. The baroque style is represented by the Mansion of Oca, one of the most outstanding of its kind in Galicia, which was built during the 18th c. Its graceful chapel contains three reredoses with sculptures by Jos Gambino, whereas its impressive gardens are a harmonious combination of stone, water and plants, many of which are unique to Galicia.

The Pilgrim's way to Santiago de Compostela

The different regions that go to form the province of Pontevedra were crossed by those pilgrims who, during the Middle Ages, were making for Santiago de Compostela from Portugal. This 'Portuguese Way', although less well known than its French counterpart, was also of great importance. Its route follows the present-day itineraries from Tuy to Santiago, passing through Porrino, Redondela, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reyes (Caldas de Reis) and Puetecesures (Pontecesures).


The province of Pontevedra preserves a large amount of fortified constructions, many of which have already been described in earlier pages of this guide. One fine example is Soto Mayor (Soutomaior) Castle, located in the town of the same name. It was closely linked with Pedro Madruga, a key figure in Galicia during the latter years of the 15th c. Although it dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, it was extensively altered from 1870 onwards when the Marquis of La Vega de Armijo decided to convert it into a summer residence. Finally, in 1982, it was acquired by the local council who set about its timely restoration. Not far from the fortress there is a large park where several exotic species of plants and trees were planted during the last century.

Local Cooking

The great diversity of local cooking in this province is explained by the great variety of regions that go to form it. Many well-established local festivities were born out of the desire to promote the most typical products of each region. Hence we find the "Salmón" Festivities at La Estrada, the "Stew" Festivities at Lalín, and the ":Baby Eel" Festivities at Tuy. Nevertheless, like all the other Galician provinces that border on the coast, it is shellfish and fish that take pride of place in the local cooking of the province of Pontevedra.

Wine is another excellent product from the area. Perhaps the most famous and respected is that known as Albariño. The grapes are mainly cultivated in El Salnés valley.

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