Another fine day and time to move on, over the Ria de Vigo to Pontevedra.
Pontevedra was apparently founded on a Roman Road and received its Royal Charter in 1169, giving the city special trading rights. Up to the 16C it was Galicia’s most significant port, trading in fishing and farmed produce. It is a most attractive town with many grand buildings, quiet squares, and lots of churches and crosses. And not small churches – all the major orders seem to have had an impressive presence in the town. We parked under the Alameda and walked into the town.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maior is a 16C church on the walls of the old town, and with a stunning interior (no photographs allowed). The buildings was paid for by the Guild of Fishermen.
The Convent of Santo Domingo was founded c.1282 and belonged to the order of Blackfriars, an order founded by a Spanish priest in France in 1216. The Convent was closed down in 1836, and by 1846 the building was already deteriorating, with stones even being used for paving. The church escaped demolition and is now a national monument.
The Convent and Church of San Francisco was built in 13C-14C and this is the order of Grey Friars who followed the teachings of St Francis – how did his teachings become so influential so quickly? The Poor Clares followed a similar philosophy and Pontevedra also has a closed order at the Convent of Santa Clara.
The Sanctuary of A Virxe da Peregrina was built in 1778 in the shape of a scallop shell, and it is on the Portuguese Pilgrim Route to Santiago de Compostela.
As we followed the map from the Tourist Office I noticed the many grand mansions, with crests on the walls.
Quiet squares inviting you to linger.
The market was just closing down but even so fresh fish was still available, and fruit stalls in the town were amazing!
The Ponte O Burgo, with its scallop shells, dates from 12C and replaced an older, Roman bridge (here); the 1987 bridge is by Santiago Calatrava.
I could easily have stayed here longer – there was so much more to see – and the Parador, in one of Pontevedra’s grand mansions was very inviting!- but it was time to leave, driving along the Ria to enjoy the sea and sunshine before arriving in Cambados.
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The Southern Pilgrim Route from Portugal
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