The town of Baiona in Galicia has a long and very varied history! We only had two days so it was a very brief ‘dip’ into the area and its history.
140BC is the founding date of the town. It was subsequently conquered and held by the Romans, the Visigoths, and the Arabs. Then in 1201 Alfonso IX granted the town a Royal Charter and his statue now guards the fortress.
The Pinta sailed into Baiona in March 1493, making Baiona the first place in Spain to receive the news of Columbus’ discovery of the New World. There are several replicas of the ship and one is moored in the marina.
The old town
The old town became an ‘Area of Historic and Artistic Interest’ in 1993 and there are many religious buildings and grand mansions in the town.
Religious buildings in Baiona
The Dominican Convent of 1547 (no.2) is a large building (firmly closed on our visit) and I didn’t get a sense of a religious building. The Convent had a Chapel, farm and orchard, and an aerial view on Google shows a large open space behind the walls.
The Mercy Chapel (no.4) was originally inside the fortress but moved into the town in 1656, and on our visit was firmly ‘under renovation’. The Chapel was the headquarters of the Brotherhood of the House of Peace and Mercy founded in 1574.
St Liberata’s Sanctuary (1695) is at one of the three gates into the town, and has some interesting shields on the front of the building. (Stories about St Liberata are inconsistent apart from the fact that she was the first Christian woman to be martyred by crucifixion.)
Opposite the Sanctuary is the Collegiate Church of St Mary (no.10) which dates from 12C-14C. The Cistercian Monks from Oia helped to build the church which must have been one of the earliest buildings in Baiona in Galicia, together with the fortress.
The 17C Chapel of St John (no.8) is down the hill. However, it is closed all year apart from Easter and St John’s Feast Day.
The Sancti Spiritus Hospital (no.7) dates from the 16C. (Was this meant for Pilgrims?) One of the Caminos, the Portuguese Way, goes through Baiona.
Grand mansions in Baiona
The Old Town is a small area but there are mansions and intricate details on buildings wherever you look. This must have been a very wealthy town in its time.
Lorenzo Correa, Mayor of Cuernavaca, Mexico, built a home (no.5) in Baiona in 1757 (why?) The coats of arms represent the Correa, Sotomayor (The 1st Count of Gondomar‘s father was a Sotomayor), and Troncoso de Lira families. It is now the City Hall.
Dean Mendoza’s House (no.12) was built in 1768 and is now a hotel.
Baiona in Galicia, on the coast, is a fascinating small town and the Parador offers very comfortable accommodation in an historic building. It is well worth visiting! (Post re-edited from original in Autumn 2014)