Padrón is the starting point for this route that takes us to Santiago de Compostela and the most characteristics pazos as far as Pontevedra and Soutomaior. In addition to their gardens, we’ll enjoy their history and cuisine.

The prominence of the camellia – one of the most iconic flowers in Galicia’s stately gardens – lends them beauty and a distinct character

We’re suggesting a getaway in contact with the noblest stone in Galicia – the stone of its pazos – and an entire plant universe concentrated in its forests and gardens.
In them, native and exotic species share spaces among ponds, springs and waterfalls.
And they play in geometric compositions – in the French style – or wrap themselves in a rugged, more English, appearance.

More information...
- Pazo de Lestrove. www.pazodelestrove.com
- Pazo de San Lourenzo. www.pazodesanlorenzo.com
- Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla. Tel: 981 512 011
- Pazo de Oca. Tel: 986 587 435
- Pazo de Rubiáns: www.pazoderubianes.com
- A Saleta estate. Tel: 986 872 323
- Pazo de Lourizán. Tel: 986 805 000
- Soutomaior Castle: www.hotelpousadadelcastillo.com

 

Day 1º

The gardens of Padrón

Galicia’s noble gardens are spaces that lend themselves to sedately strolling and chatting.

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We can start our tour in Padrón, a town with a Jacobean and literary resonance within the region of Sar, south of the province of A Coruña. In order to peacefully enjoy these settings, we suggest you arrive early in the afternoon and look for accommodation in the town or its surroundings, which offers hotels, guesthouses, country homes and pazos converted into tourist accommodation.

Three hundred different species share space in the botanical and artistic garden

Once you’ve arranged accommodation, you can head to the Artistic/Botanical Garden, declared a Heritage Element of Cultural Interest in 1946 in the category of Historic Garden. It is located on Avenida de Compostela at the foot of the national motorway where it passes through Padrón.

Its design is reminiscent of the French style, which was incorporated into the characteristics of Galician pazos. It is surrounded by a nineteenth-century-style wrought iron gate whose luxuriance increases its romantic air. The entrance leads to the main corridor of banana trees, which helps distribute the paths and different areas into which the garden is divided.

The garden has a coast redwood,
a Judas tree and
a Senegal date palm

Here, three hundred species – many of which are rare and some of which are unique in Spain –share space in barely one hectare of land. Of note are the coast redwood, which represents the green roof of the garden, next to the statue of the mediaeval troubadour Macías o Namorado; the Judas tree, whose thorny branches become entangled, forming the crown of Christ; and the Senegal date palm, which provides palm branches for Palm Sunday. If we visit in winter, we’ll enjoy the colourfulness of the camellias and if we come during early summer, the fragrance of the gardenias.

The Pazo de Lestrove has five hectares of landscaped grounds

Very near the village centre, following the Rúa do Carme and after crossing the bridge over the River Sar, there is another destination that is of interest due to its architecture and natural areas, which extend across five hectares of landscaped grounds. This is the Pazo de Lestrove, a building that dates back to the 16th century that once served as a mansion for recreational getaways for the archbishops of Santiago; today, it is a four-star monument/hotel.
It is also known as Pazo Anxo da Garda (Guardian Angel Pazo) due to its chapel’s dedication. We suggest that you go inside so you can see an impressive life-size carving of the Virgin of Sorrows by the sculptor Ferreiro. Another of the more charming elements is a three-tier stone fountain crowned with Saint James depicted as a pilgrim who welcomes us from the courtyard entrance.

The renowned Padrón peppers

After the tour, you can dine in the pazo’s restaurant or choose to eat in Padrón. The Old Town’s restaurants, tapas restaurants, octopus restaurants and traditional taverns have no lack of typically Galician foodstuffs. Here, the star of the show are the Padrón peppers with the PDO “Pemento de Herbón”, which this locality is known by as its accompanying tasting: “Some are hot and some are not”.

Day 2º

The gardens of Santiago and of its nearby pazos

The Alameda, Compostela’s large green space

Taking advantage of the proximity of Padrón to Santiago de Compostela, we suggest you spend the morning getting to know its spectacular green spaces. They are reached by motorway or the national road. You will find a widely varied range of accommodation: boutique hotels, inns, guesthouses, hostels and rural tourism houses.

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When you arrive, we suggest you start the tour along the Alameda, which might be considered the city’s palatial garden for the role it played in the life of the Galician nobility as an area for relaxation and recreation. The very same activities that the city’s present inhabitants do in this space that is very near the city centre. It is divided into three areas: A Alameda, the Carballeira de Santa Susana and A Ferradura, each one belonging to different eras and designs.

The most photographed sculpture: “As Marías”

The Alameda’s starting point is the entrance of Porta Faxeira, where we are received by rows of banana trees, camellias, a magnificent specimen of Sequoia sempervirens and a magnolia planted by the Society of Friends of the Country. At the end, we’ll find the “As Marías” sculpture, which depicts two women who were very popular in Compostela. It is common to see the statue surrounded by people eager to have a picture taken with these colourful characters.

Behind the sculpture, a large central promenade – once reserved for Santiago’s high society – stretches out. Lessprivileged social classes could stroll the side promenades, where rows of camellias and silvery linden trees shade beautiful stone and iron benches from the old Sargadelos forge. If tour takes place in the winter, we’ll see splendid specimens of saucer magnolia.

In the past, the Alameda’s central promenade was reserved for members of high society and the side promenades for the more modest classes

Oaks, camellias and ancient eucalyptus trees

A pond and bandstand put the finishing touch on this modernist environment. Also behind “As Marías”, we see a path that climbs to the church of Santa Susana, which is surrounded by a magnificent stand of oaks with trees dating back more than three hundred years. This is the oldest space in the entire complex; a local market since the Middle Ages, some locals still recall it as the setting for the cattle fair.

A Ferradura links the two ends of the Alameda. On one side a large canopy of oaks in the company of centuriesold camellias – known as the Paseo dos Leóns due to the two statues contained in two pillars at the entrance – cover the promenade. From here the cathedral and the area with monuments create the perfect setting for a photo.

The university’s campus can be seen from the statue of Rosalía de Castro

Further on, an ancient, huge Eucalyptus globulus offers us a wooden bench to sit on for a moment while we breathe in the scented air and take a look at the cathedral’s Obradoiro façade. Next, there is another interesting space dominated by the statue of the famous Galician poet Rosalía de Castro which gives us an outstanding view of the university campus. This is finished off with other sculptures such as the A leiteira, along with fountains and ponds and a tall pigeon loft.

A Ferradura boasts some remarkable trees, such as the “Perona”, an example of the Abies nordmanniana planted in 1947 to commemorate the visit of Eva Perón. There are also some Lawson cypresses, Nordmann firs and cedars and worthy of note are the rows of Canary Island date palms and horse-chestnut trees.

The Pazo de San Lourenzo is home to over one hundred plant species

A magnificent staircase staircase descends from the viewpoint of the gardens of the southern campus. If we go down them and turn right, crossing the Avenida das Burgas, we’ll reach the San Lourenzo oak forest. Behind it stands the pazo of the same name, built between the 13th and 17th centuries and included as part of the National Artistic Heritage.

Its extensive forest and gardens, which are fully walled, hide more than one hundred plant species. The jewel is located in the cloister garden and is a large four-hundred-yearold trimmed boxwood hedge rich in religious symbolism, making it the most important part of Spanish religious geometric gardening.

In the Old Town, we sample typical Galician dishes

The end of the tour will coincide with lunchtime. The streets of the Old Town – especially the Rúa do Franco, A Raíña and others nearby – offer a wide variety of establishments where you can sample traditional Galician dishes: octopus á feira style, raxo, Padrón peppers, pig’s ear, cockles, mussels, dried pork or roast ham, to name just a few. Or, if you prefer, you can choose to try a Galician broth and stew, seafood or fish caldeirada style, or Galician beef.

Giant camellias in the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla

There are two excellent examples of stately gardens a few kilometres from Santiago; they are well-marked along the route via the N-525 towards Ourense. The first is the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla, Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla, in the municipality of Vedra. You’ll find the turnoff indicated as Pazo de Ortigueira, because of its location.

“Debo advertir que `aha´ es lo que dicen las camelias cuando abren,
y `hota´ cuando se desprenden de la rama y caen;
los japoneses son quienes nos han enseñado esto”.

Álvaro Cunqueiro

Many experts consider it to be the most fascinating ornamental botanical space in Galicia. Here, camellias are represented in multiple varieties, some of which are giant specimens. They create a lovely pastoral setting in the so-called Carrera de las Novias. But if what you prefer is magic and mystery, then take a stroll through the Carreira das Oliveiras, a long walk between olive trees, whose branches intertwine over our heads. And also be sure to not miss such charming sites such as the baroque Coca fountain or the Waterfall.

The beauty of the gardens in the Pazo de Oca

If we then continue along the N-525 towards to Ourense, we’ll find the turnoff to the Pazo de Oca in the municipality of A Estrada. Many call it the “Galician Versailles” because of the beauty of its gardens. Outside, pazo and chapel meet at a right angle via an arched corridor, forming a beautiful ensemble in front of the plaza.

The large pond that runs through the garden has a bridge that symbolically separates good from bad

Inside, you can visit the gardens, which are fully walled. One of the most striking features is a large river-like pond running diagonally across the garden. A stone arch bridge, under which there is a pier, crosses over it in the middle of the watercourse. It symbolically separates good – represented in half of the pond by a stone fisherman – from the evil on the other side, which has sculptures of guns and stone beasts.

In the French garden, you can admire a boxwood maze inspired by a design on the floor of Canterbury Cathedral. Camellias grow lavishly all around. In the avenue formed by the linden trees, it is easy to evoke scenes from the past filled with strolling people and horse races. We suggest that you allow yourself to wander the entire garden, discovering fountains, open-air laundry, large stone and ceramic vases and niches with plants inside. You’ll find outstanding specimens, such as a large Camellia reticulata, an ancient Cryptomeria japonica centennial and a coast redwood, among many other plant varieties.

We dine in Vedra

When it’s time for dinner, we suggest that you stop off in Vedra and savour its delicious cuisine before returning to Santiago. Products like pig ear and wines and spirits from Ulla have their own festivals in this locality.

Day 3º

The palatial gardens of the Rías Baixas

Following the trail of beautiful palatial gardens, we suggest that you head towards the region of O Salnés in the Rías Baixas, after breakfast. What’s more, it’s quite easy to find accommodation here, as there is a wide range of top-quality choices throughout the area. Even if we stay at a stateowned hotel, we’ll find the exceptional Pazo de Bazán in Cambados; also close by is the one in Pontevedra, located in a Renaissance palace in the city centre.

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The camellia rules over more than a hundred species of flowers in the Pazo de Rubiáns

The AP-9 will take us to Vilagarcía de Arousa, on whose outskirts is, along the road to Pontevedra, the Pazo de Rubiáns. Here, the camellia has been the leading lady among over a hundred species of flowers ever since the Duke of Caminha gave it as a gift to this farm in the early nineteenth century. Today, their seeds are harvested to distil the essential oil used by the nuns of the Convent of Armenteira to make artisan soaps, which you will also find in the pazo.

Besides the garden, on its 65 hectares the pazo is home to a cork oak-covered mountain and an Albariño vineyard, which supples the production of the winery’s wines which are protected by the Denomination of Origin “Rías Baixas”. The Eucalyptus globulus trees – planted in 1820 as a gift from the Bishop of Tui – will most certainly catch your eye. They are among the largest in Europe, measuring 14 metres in circumference.

The winery and gardens of the Pazo de Fefiñáns

It’s a short trip from Vilagarcía de Arousa to Cambados. In this village – as dedicated to the sea as it is stately – we can visit the gardens and the Pazo de Fefiñáns in the central square of the same name. The Church of San Benito, a watchtower/lookout and a beautiful baroque arch bridge are also located here. The entire ensemble has been declared a Heritage Element of Cultural Interest.

The interior of the pazo houses the oldest winery in the area, which has been active since 1904. We’ll cross hectare of trellis-filled vineyard and stroll among the gardens that hold carefully tended native species and ancient boxwoods. Access to the rooms inside the pazo is also available. Here, we’ll discover the refined taste of the Galician nobility who settled in towns and cities.

The eucalyptus trees at Pazo de Rubiáns –
14 metres in circumference –
are among the largest in Europe

Fish and shellfish in Cambados, the “capital” of Albariño wine

After the tour, it will be time for lunch. The surrounding streets hold restaurants, traditional eating spots and tapas bars that will amaze us with their seafood and fish right from the estuary. Do not forget to wash your lunch down with Albariño DO Rías Baixas; it’s no wonder we’re in its “capital”!


The multiple colours of camellias on the A Saleta estate


In the afternoon we can arrange a visit to the estate of A Saleta in the nearby town of Meis. On this occasion, there is a large farmhouse with a barn, dovecote and chapel awaiting us. The whole complex is surrounded by five acres of oaks, eucalyptus and cork oaks, and an English-style garden designed by the landscape architect Brenda Colvin.
The camellia is also the star here, turning the landscape white, pink, red, violet or of a mottled hue during its flowering season. We’ll also find rhododendrons, azaleas, members of the Australian sugarbush and myrtle families and South American heathers, all tagged and identified.

Striking examples of camellias in the Pazo de Lourizán

We head out towards Pontevedra. Very near this city, on the road leading to Marín, is the Pazo de Lourizán and its large estate of 54 hectares, now home to the Forest Research Centre. Its botanical and architectural significance make it worthy of a visit.

We’ll be impressed by the large modernist building with an imperial-style staircase, multiple columns, huge picture windows, statues and ornaments. It was built by Montero Ríos, a politician who negotiated the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War.

Nearby are many attractions such as the glass greenhouse, the pigeon loft, the barn, the winery, the ruins of the mill, the laundry area, trout pond, Rías Park, various historical fountains and the Cave of the Mirrors, decorated with stained glass.

The Botanical Garden has
Japanese and Chinese chestnuts,
Lebanon cedars and
Dutch elms


The Botanical Garden, which was created in 1949 under the name of “Arboretum”, houses both exotic and native species planted from the nineteenth century to the present. The Lebanon cedar, the Metasequoia glyptostroboides and the stand of Japanese and Chinese chestnut trees are included on the List of Unique Trees in Galicia. Also of note, however, are the Dutch elm, the queen palm and the avenue of magnolias. The experts describe its specimens of the “Alba Plena” as “impressive”. The oldest camellias date from the nineteenth century.


After the visit you can dine in Pontevedra. You’ll find good traditional eating establishments and restaurants featuring the excellent traditional Galician cuisine in the  city’s Old Town.

 

Day 4º

Soutomaior Castle and its International Camellia Garden of Excellence

After breakfast in Pontevedra, we suggest that you use the morning for a last tour, this time of Soutomaior Castle in the nearby town of the same name; by car, it’s just a bit more than a half-hour away. Its gardens have been the first in Spain to obtain the title of “International Camellia Garden of Excellence”, which was awarded by the International Camellia Society at the International Camellia Congress held in China in 2012, given the importance of this flower in Soutomaior Botanic Park.

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The widest camellia tree in Galicia

This botanical park is home to 400 camellia plants of up to 25 different species, some of which are centuries old. One of the specimens has 18 trunks growing from the tree’s base, and its crown has a diameter of 17 metres, making it the widest in Galicia.

Its 35-hectare area contains palms, orange trees, eucalyptus, chestnuts, and oak and magnolia trees on this hill where the mediaeval castle stands. Its original construction dates back to the early twelfth century, and Pedro Madruga – a key figure of fifteenth-century Galicia, both in terms of fighting against the revolts by peasants as well as against the Catholic Monarchs – created his fiefdom here.

The walled complex is accessed by a drawbridge. The coat-of-arms of the Marquis de Mos can be made out over the gate. Inside the palace, we can view the fully restored rooms and the superbly styled “Ladies Gallery”, which is a magnificent viewpoint to the courtyard.

 

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