You can make an interesting day trip from Baiona down the coast to Oia, A Guarda, and the Castro of Santa Tecla. Then return on the inland road. We had lovely weather and it was a fascinating day.
The coastline south of Baiona is quite rugged and it was ‘fresh’ in the early morning. It was also very beautiful. We drove out of Baiona and stopped as the road turned south to watch the waves and breathe in the sea air – wonderful.
At Oia we stopped to see the Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria of the 12C. The Cistercians, or White Friars, were founded by Abbot Robert of Molesme when he left his monastery in Burgundy in 1098 to live a more austere religious life at Citeaux. The order spread rapidly throughout Europe and there were thirteen Cistercian Monasteries in Galicia for men, and two for women. The King bestowed the title ‘Royal’ to the monastery in 1625 when the monks beat off an attack by Turkish pirates. These religious institutions remained effective and strong until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1830s.
We visited in 2014 when there were plans for redevelopment. Since then there has been slow progress.
There is no information about the small village of Oia but I noticed some interesting details as we walked round.
Guarda stretches down the hillsides to its harbour on the Atlantic sea. We only stopped for a brief look, coffee, and a chat with the bartender, but I would like to return. The town has a long history, with invasions by Vandals and Romans, somewhere a parish church built over a 10C building, and on the hill above, a castro.
The remains of a Benedictine Monastery built by the Sotomayor family in 1558 overlooks the harbour. (Pedro Madruga, the Sotomayor responsible, was a powerful presence in east Galicia in the 15C.) The Chapel retains its purpose, but the monastery is a hotel. The Benedictine order, the Black Friars, was the order on which the Cistercians based their philosophy.
Castro of Santa Tecla
The settlement of Castro de Santa Tecla overlooks Guarda. It was only rediscovered in 1913 when a road was built up the hill. The era of these hill forts, or castro, was apparently 900BC-c.100AD. I had not heard of these settlements before.
The inland road
We returned to Baiona over the hills where we found wild horses, apparently introduced to the area by the monks at Oia. And then, suddenly, the bay opened up below us.
This is an interesting day trip from Baiona and strongly recommended!
[Re-edit of article first posted in November 2014]
The District of Tui
The Sotomayor Castle
An article by a descendant of the Sotomayor family
The Benedictine Monastery (in Spanish)
Castros in Spain
A useful website for information about Spain