The historic town of Cambados in Galicia is in an area which has been inhabited for a long time. The Celts settled here in the first millennium BC (their artifacts have been found in the hills surrounding Cambados) and even the Phoenicians were here – they were spreading through the Mediterranean in c.1500BC-300BC. Today there are three main ‘centres’: the historic centre around Fefiñáns Square, the old fishing village of San Tomé, and the newer town inbetween the two.
Fefinans Square in Cambados
The Pazo of Fefiñáns dates from 15C with a tower and four arched bridges. A watchtower of the 16C, the Torre de Homenaje, is at the far end of the walled gardens but only one bridge exists today.
Today the Pazo buildings include a bodega producing Albarino wine, the first bodega to market the brand. Vineyards of Albariño grapes are both inside and outside Cambados.
Church of San Benito in Fefinans
The Church of San Benito is a Romanesque church at heart but it was restructured in 15C and 17C. Two large granite figures, balboas, armed with shield and slub, protect those buried in the church and protect the church and the square.
The fishing village of San Tomé is quite small, with plenty of fishing boats and pleasure boats in the harbour, and even fish inviting trouble! It was a beautiful day looking out across the Ria de Arousa.
A small causeway leads from the fishing village to the island of A Figueira with its Tower of San Sadurniño one of many watchtowers whose function was to warn against raids on Santiago by pirates, Vikings, and Normans. The tower, with its adjacent chapel, was in good condition until 18C; now only a corner remains. We sat on the island and just absorbed the peace of the bay, as did the seagull, although he popped into the water for an occasional snack.
Old mansions in the historic town of Cambados
Many old mansions with crests in the town suggest a wealthy history. In San Tomé the Pazo de Montesacro, 17C, overlooks the harbour and is now a residential home for the elderly. The Pazo de Ulloa, built by the first Count of Monterrey, dates from 1517. He also owned the Castle of Monterrey, where he added a Tower. One of the residents was Don Alfonso de Fonseca III, the Archbishop of Santiago and Toledo. The Pazo de Bazán is 17C and became the Parador in 1960s. The writer Emilia Pardo Bazán is a descendant of the Pastor who built the mansion.
Church of San Franciso
The church of San Francisco (late 15C) was a Franciscan Convent until 1835 when the State took over the buildings and the monks were forced to leave. The Abbey buildings became a barracks, then a school, and were finally demolished. In their place a wide boulevard, the A Calzada Path, links the church with the village of Fefinañs. It is now the parish church.
Sights in Cambados
Horreos are everywhere. These above-ground storage systems are common in Galicia.
And then there are the little vignettes of everyday life which make any town interesting, and fun!
The historic town of Cambados in Galicia is fascinating and this Parador, like the others, offers a very comfortable base from which to explore the surrounding area. Highly recommended. [Re-edit of article posted in November 2014]
Cambados and its history
Photographs & history of Cambados (in Spanish)
The Castle of Monterrey – interesting blog by an expat
The Castle of Monterrey
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