It was another fine day in Baiona and it was time to move on, over the Ria de Vigo to Pontevedra in Galicia, en route to our destination for the night, Cambados.
Pontevedra in Galicia
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.
Churches in Pontevedra
The Basilica of Santa Maria a Maior is a 14C church on the walls of the old town, added to over the centuries, and with a stunning interior (no photographs allowed). The building was paid for by the Guild of Fishermen and it stands close to the original fishing port of the town.
The Convent of Santo Domingo was founded c.1282 and built over the following two centuries. It belonged to the order of Dominicans or 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 only just escaped total demolition and is now a national monument.
The Convent and Church of San Francisco, 13C-14C, on the large Praza da Ferraria 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 nearby Sanctuary of A Virxe da Peregrina was built in 1778 in the shape of a scallop shell, and it is on the Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela. A ‘cult’ in support of the Virgin apparently developed around a striking statue brought to the city by French pilgrims…
As we followed the map from the Tourist Office I noticed the many grand mansions, with crests on the walls.
Quiet squares invited us to linger.
The covered market
The market was just closing down as we arrived but some fresh fish was still available. And the fruit stalls in the market and 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 lingered in Pontevedra in Galicia because there was so much to see. And the Parador, in one of Pontevedra’s grand mansions, was very inviting! But it was time to move on to our next destination.
The coast on the Ria de Pontevedra
Pontevedra in Galicia is clearly a wonderful town – we didn’t give it enough time. After leaving the town we stopped on a beach to smell the sea air and just enjoy the sunshine. It was the beginning of November and we were so lucky with the weather![This post has been re-edited from an article in November 2014]
The Southern Pilgrim Route from Portugal
Museum buildings in Pontevedra
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