This trail accompanies the River Miño and the history that runs parallel to its waters up to the point where it reaches the sea, and later further onwards, up through the straight stretch of Galicia's southernmost coast. 

Your visit to the fortified pre-Roman Iron Age villages of Santa Trega and Troña will give you a peek into the lives of our ancestors.

The fertility rituals were linked to A Romanesque's bridge and to the River Miñor until very recent times.

Day 1

We begin our journey through the monumental and historic town of Tui, located right at the inner end of the River Miño estuary.

In the past, it was the capital of one of the seven provinces of Galicia, before the current division took place. It was an important settlement during all periods of history, often under siege due to its strategic location.

In fact, at the height of the Middle Ages, it was the religious, economic, military and commercial centre of southern Galicia. This period of splendour also saw the beginning of the construction of the cathedral at the top of the town, which lasted until the fourteenth century. The best reward for a relaxing stroll through the historic centre is precisely a visit to this location, which is known as the Cathedral-Fortress of Santa María, so named because of its defensive character. Here you will find yourself facing the cathedral's western gate. This entrance, which was carved in the thirteenth century, is the most important iconographic composition in Galician Gothic art. It is easy to distinguish this style from the Romanesque style inside the cathedral because of the duration of the construction works. The cloister – another Galician Gothic jewel – is one of the few of mediaeval origin that are fully preserved in Galicia. Finish off your stroll with a splendid view from the Soutomaior Tower.  If you've happened to see any cracks in the vaults along the way, don't worry: they've been there since the Lisbon earthquake of 1775.

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Back outside, from the cathedral's north side pop into the Tui Diocesan Museum, where you will find some curious objects that just might give you the chills: this is the only collection of "sambenitos" preserved in Spain. The term comes from "blessed sack", which was a kind of a big poncho-shaped scapular that the Inquisition used to humiliate those convicted of religious crimes. The prisoners were paraded barefoot, dressed in the sambenito and carrying a lighted candle. Often, once the sentence was completed, the sambenito was exhibited publicly so that it would serve as an example and provoke scorn for the family of the prisoner. This gave rise to the familiar expression "hang the sambenito" (to brand or label someone unjustly).

The walk continues leisurely down towards the river, between narrow mediaeval streets that serve as viewpoints between the walls. Surrounded by stately homes, you'll notice the international bridge linking Portugal and Galicia over which the train to Santiago de Compostela passes. It will seem to you as though you're entered another time, and you'll understand why Tui was declared a Historic/Artistic Complex. Before leaving the Old Town, stop off in the taverns and inns to sample Galician cuisine and – above all – of the River Miño eels, which have their own gastronomic festival held during the festival of San Telmo, which coincides with Easter.

We continue on in our journey along the Galician part of the mouth of the River Miño towards Tomiño, where we'll pay a visit to the Fortress of Goián or San Lourenzo This area is part of a set of defensive buildings on both sides of the River Miño, on the so-called "Wet Line" (Raia Húmida). They all date from the early modern period and are the result of the Portuguese Restoration War begun by Portugal in 1640. In particular, the Goián fort is located over the original construction, the Forte da Barca. Though small in size, it has a perfectly symmetrical structure.

Before heading on to A Guarda, it's worth it to stop along the way and visit the Folón and Picón Mills ethnographic complex in the town of O Rosal. If you have time, hike the 3.5 km path linking the 67 seventeenth- and eighteenth-century water mills. Observe in perspective their staircase-like layout designed to efficiently harness the power of the water.

We've now arrived in the town of A Guarda, where we'll finish off the first day visiting the southwesternmost point of Galicia. This town – along with the town of O Rosal – is located on the River Miño estuary, a vast wetland of great ecological value that you'll have a fine view of from the fortified pre-Roman Iron Age Village of Santa Trega, located near the summit of the mountain. By simply setting foot in this place, you will experience a recreation of the lives of our ancestors. Some of the excavated remains have been restored, including the circular-shaped fortified towns that show the layout of their prehistoric dwellings with their typical straw roofs. There are also rectangular houses with rounded corners that are the result of Roman influence. Although the village may seem chaotic, it does have a logical order based on "households" that you might like to take some time to discover, along with the petroglyphs that are both inside and outside of the complex, or the Pedra Furada (Pierced Stone), a large hollowed-out rock with a natural window. It is possible that as many as five thousand people once lived here. They had a self-sufficient economy and also produced ceramics, jewellery, textiles and tools, examples of which you can see in the archaeological museum located in the village.

We'll put the finishing touch to our day watching the sunset from one of the village's sidewalk cafes while we treat ourselves to fresh rock lobster, whose gastronomic festival is celebrated in July.

Day 2

Starting off from the estuary, on this second day we'll head northward along an unusually straight coast that contrasts with the winding Galician estuaries. On the way to Baiona, you can stop off at the convent in Oia, which was founded in 1137. Its shape resembles a castle-fortress on the shores of the sea. In fact, on several occasions it did serve as a defensive stronghold.

 

The old fortress of Monterreal in the town of Baiona served the same purpose. A wall was erected around the building in the fourteenth century as a defence against the continual attacks of the enemy, and today is home to a National Tourism Parador hotel. To enter, pass through the large seventeenth-century gate; once inside, take a stroll around the area to get a feel for the seafaring essence of this town. One curious fact is that this was the first port in Europe to receive the news of the discovery of America. Here you will find a replica of the caravel Pinta, which arrived in Baiona on 1 March 1493. The port's sidewalk cafes with their lovely views of the Real Club Náutico de Baiona will invite you to stop for a short break. Don't miss your opportunity to enjoy a delicious plate of rice with lobster in one of them.

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Next, visit the Romanesque A Ramallosa bridge  that crosses the River Miño and divides Baiona from Nigrán. Under the bridge, there is a wayside shrine and halfway across, you'll a see stone cross on which you will find the image of Saint Telmo. As recently as just a few years ago, hope-filled women who had suffered pregnancy losses would wet their stomachs with water from the river at midnight. The spell would work only if they also chose the first person whose path they crossed to be the child's godfather.

Next, we'll ascend the mountain Doce Nome de Xesús in the town of Ponteareas, where we'll relive prehistory in the fortified pre-Roman Iron Age village of Troña. Accompanying you in your journey will be a leafy vault created for the most part by huge mimosas that will give the impression that you're passing through a time tunnel. This ancient town is also linked to popular beliefs and folklore because of its important role as a strategic location. Walls, a moat and parapets form a complex defensive system some 280 metres above sea level, which reinforces this idea. It was originally built and occupied between the sixth century BC and the second century AD. Currently some thirty constructions have been excavated in addition to the discovery of interesting archaeological remains.

One good way to finish off this intensive two-day journey is with a trip to one of Spain's most important spa towns: Mondariz-Balneario, which has retained all the charm of its years of splendour during the Belle Époque. Here, the therapeutic power of the water will leave you with a relaxing feeling with which to call forth the memory of all the experiences you've had.

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