Pontevedra, The Great Unknown Of Galicia

Pontevedra, the great unknown of Galicia

The capital of the Rías Baixas has a lot for you. Heritage tourism and congresses are the two most promoted sectors, with its guided tours and its fairgrounds. In addition, its gastronomy is one of the most delicious in the region thanks to the raw materials used. We invite you to take a walk through Pontevedra, the great unknown of Galicia.

Pontevedra: unparalleled historical wealth

If we compare the historical heritage of Pontevedra, it could only be surpassed in the area by that of Santiago de Compostela. The head of the region is conglomerated around the Pontevedra estuary and on the left bank of the Lérez river.

Bridge in Pontevedra
Pontevedra – mimohe

The name of the city derives from the Latin “pontem veteram” which means “old bridge”. Why this denomination? Because the Romans built that pass to cross the estuary (today it is called Puente del Burgo). The foundation of Pontevedra was born at that time and that is why the well-known bridge is part of the local coat of arms.

But that’s not the only way to cross the water! Throughout the city we find several bridges: the Barca (made of iron), the Tirantes (created in the 90s) and the Corrientes (arched).

What to visit in Pontevedra?

During your stay in this beautiful and old city of the Spanish northwest, do not forget to visit the following attractions:

Basilica Santa Maria la Mayor

Basilica of Santa Maria in Pontevedra
Basilica of Santa Maria – manuel fouce & ana ramos / Flickr.com

Known as “the pearl of Galician art”, it is one of the most beautiful buildings built in the Elizabethan Gothic style in Galicia. It is located on Avenida San Martín, on an elevation of the land where there used to be a small Roman church.

It has three naves with side chapels, rib vaults, a May altar carved in wood and a large façade in which the Virgin and Saints Peter and Paul are represented.

Sculpture island

Sculpture Island in Pontevedra
Island of Sculptures – Diego Portela / Flickr.com

Its real name is Isla de la Xunqueira del Lérez and it is on the homonymous river. It is, since 1999, a very beautiful open-air museum declared of community interest, in addition to being included in the Natura 2000 network.

It permanently exhibits 12 artistic installations with the central theme Galician granite and its relationship with man. It is accessed by a pedestrian bridge and has 7 hectares of native vegetation.

Sanctuary of the Pilgrim

Church of the Pilgrim in Pontevedra
Sanctuary of the Pilgrim MTA – luscofusco / Flick.com

Located in front of the Plaza de la Peregrina, it is one of the emblems of the city. A late-baroque style church was built in 1778 in the center of the city that is dedicated to the patron saint of Pontevedra, linked to the Portuguese Way.

The plant is in the shape of a scallop shell (the symbol of pilgrims) and inside we find a basin for holy water made of mollusk shell brought from the Pacific Ocean.

Convent of San Francisco

Convent of San Francisco in Pontevedra
Convent of San Francisco – avarand

It is in the old part of the city, in front of the Plaza de la Ferrería. Without a doubt, it is a masterpiece built in the mendicant Gothic style and declared a Historic-artistic Monument. It is believed to have been founded by Saint Francis of Assisi on his pilgrimage to Compostela in 1214.

The church is built on the ruins of a 13th century temple. The Latin cross plan and its single nave are combined with three polygonal apses and elongated windows. In the west wing are the dependencies of the convent and the cloister dates from the 18th century.

Ruins of Santo Domingo

Church of Santo Domingo in Pontevedra
Church of Santo Domingo – José Antonio Gil Martínez / Flickr.com

They are in the center of Pontevedra, they are in the Galician Gothic style and inside is the archeology section of the Provincial Museum. The whole complex has been declared a Historic-artistic Monument. In the museum we can find Roman ronseles, tombs from the Middle Ages, Visigothic shields and capitals.

The ruins belong to an old temple built in the 13th century. The head of the church and the facade of the chapter house are preserved. The rest were demolished at the end of the 19th century.

On your tour of Pontevedra you will also be able to visit several churches, chapels, monasteries and sanctuaries. If you prefer a little more modern architecture, the Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic houses and pazos will leave you speechless. And of course you can’t miss the dozens of historic squares and the streets (streets) of the old town!

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