O Baixo Miño (The Lower Miño) owes its name, its landscape and its very personality to the River Miño, Galicia's most important river. This area – located on the southwest tip of the province of Pontevedra – harmoniously melds three different types of landscape: coast, mountain and river.

This area's coastline combines beautiful beaches with rugged headlands, such as Cape Silleiro.

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From the summit of Mount Santa Tegra, we can view the entire coastline, beginning in the north with the Vigo estuary and the Cíes Islands, and ending in the south, on the other side of the mouth of the Miño, in Portugal. Another mountain, Mount Aloia, constitutes perhaps the most valuable site in Baixo Miño from an environmental point of view, no discredit meant to the Miño estuary and Gándaras de Budiño, to mention only two other examples. Its slopes are home to numerous animal and vegetable species and the area is particularly well preserved and designed to cater for all the needs of visitors. Mount Santa Tegra and Mount Aloia, both strategically located, provide incomparable natural viewpoints to enjoy the beautiful vistas over these lands, no matter which way we look.

Apart from being its central element, the Miño forms this region's southern border.

In its final section, after leaving inland Galicia, the river begins to flow more slowly, as if preparing for its amorous rendez-vous with the Atlantic Ocean. Its riverbed – which forms the border between Galicia and Portugal – is crossed by several bridges, both modern and ancient, that connect towns in both countries.

O Baixo Miño has a wide catalogue of architectural attractions, from all ages. On the aforementioned Mount Santa Tegra there is one of the most valuable "castros" (Celtic settlements) in Galicia. Although the village dates back more than 2,000 years, this area could well have been inhabited from about 8,000 years ago. Regarding more recent periods, practically every village in Baixo Miño has a church worth visiting, most of which are Romanesque. Tui is in itself a cultural jewel, full of exceptional monuments among which the Cathedral of Santa María deserves special mention. Other villages well worth a visit are Baiona, Tomiño and A Guarda, each for their own diverse motives.

In Oia we will visit its monastery, a source of material and spiritual progress in the region for centuries. To the monastic communities that occupied it we owe, for example, the Mills of O Folón and O Picón. The monks of Oia also cultivated grapes in the O Rosal valley. Thanks to dedication, optimum natural conditions and, in more recent years, the help of wisely applied technology, today O Rosal's wines offer an excellent level of quality within the Rías Baixas designation of origen. They serve as the perfect complement for the area's gastronomy, which includes all types of fruits of the sea, meat and a wide range of desserts.

Route

The route we propose is of low difficulty with the help of a vehicle and includes short journeys on foot. It is suitable for everyone and ideal to do as a family. It takes an estimated three days. The time distribution should just be taken as an example as each person can be vary it according to preferences.

Day 1

We begin our route through the Baixo Miño in the town of Baiona, also called Baiona A Real because of the royal privileges granted by Kings Alfonso IV and John II of Castile for maritime trade.

At the entrance to Baiona we can go up a small road about 500 metres to the A Trinidade stone cross, a beautiful sculpture that is also one of the few to be found under a pyramid-shaped stone canopy. Once in Baiona, to the right we will find the Monte Real Fortress, which houses the National Tourism Parador (state-owned luxury hotel) Conde de Gondomar.

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After a walk through the Old Quarter, we cannot leave without visiting the Santa María Collegiate Church and the Santa Liberata Chapel, situated one in front of the other. The former is open to the public mornings and afternoons, while the latter may only be visited at certain times.

Baiona became one of the most important sites for sports sailing in the entire Iberian Peninsula. Its port, full of colour due to the numerous vessels moored there, serves as base during the Príncipe de Asturias Regatta, which is held at the beginning of September.

As we leave Baiona, we ascend to the "Virxe da Rocha" (Virgin of the Rock), a very large stone statue built with donations from the people and created by Galician architect Antonio Palacios and sculptor Mariano Benlliure. Here we will also find numerous grills and picnic tables so that we can spend the day. Inside the statue there is a staircase that finishes in the vessel held by the Virgin, a balcony from where we can see Baiona, the peninsula on which the Monte Real Fortress stands and the Cíes Islands in all their glory. For those who want to visit the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, it should not be forgotten that Bayonne is one of the ports of departure for ships going to the Cíes Islands in high season.

We leave Bayonne via the PO-552. A few kilometers further, with the sea on our right, we reach Cape Silleiro, where there is a viewpoint at the foot of the lighthouse, located 85 metres above sea level. The road follows the coastline, right next to the sea, and the views from this point are magnificent.

Along the coast between Bayonne and A Guarda, the mountain range hugs the Atlantic as closely as possible. We are talking about the mountains of A Groba – which reach 663 m –, known for their rugged terrain and for being home to the largest concentration of Galician horses in the wild.

We reach the town of Oia, 17.8 km from Baiona, where we will see the Santa María de Oia Monastery to our right. Upon reaching the monastery, we get on the left-hand lane and we go through a small tunnel that emerges along the side. The church can be visited by following the directions on the entranceway. Nowadays the monastery is private property, although it may well follow in the steps of many other such constructions in Galicia and eventually be converted into a hotel facility.

After Oia we travel towards the town of A Guarda , located 17.7 km further away. We continue along the coast, which guarantees some lovely landscape views, and in A Guarda we visit Mount Santa Tegra, walking around the area and tasting some of the numerous local gastronomic delicacies. We end our first day.

Day 2

The itinerary for the second day of our route runs along the banks of the River Miño until we reach Tui.

O Rosal has excellent climate and conditions for vine growing and wine production. By the sides of the road we see many vineyards, in most of which the Albariño grape is grown. Rosal wines are included within the Rías Baixas designation of origin. In this town we may also visit the parish church, which is open to the public during hours of worship.

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Either from O Calvario – capital of the municipality of O Rosal – or returning to the PO-552 to turn left, we come to the mills of O Folón and O Picón. This group of 60 cascade mills linked by a 3.5 km approved path is of great ethnographic interest, so it was declared to be a Site Cultural Interest in 1998.

From here we return to the PO-552 road and continue our route. We arrived at the parishes of St. Xoán and San Miguel de Tabagón, where we can visit their interesting churches. Close by the Church of San Miguel, across from the school, we find one of the most singular stone crosses in the entire area. Returning to the PO-552, about 500 m to the right is the famous ordeal Tabagón, located in a viewpoint that allow us to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the estuary of the River Miño. At its base we see a map made of ceramic that show the location of each town, mountain and village that can be seen from this point.

We travel to Goián visit the fortress of the same name. A few metres further lies the Goián pier, from where the ferry leaves that joins this town with Vilanova da Cerveira, located on the other bank of the river, in Portuguese territory.

After travelling 1.5 km along the PO-552 we take a right-hand turnoff towards Figueró. There we will visit the San Campio de Lonxe Shrine, thus named due to the large distances that the pilgrims cover to reach this place of worship (lonxe: "far"). The many devotees of this saint – protector of the young people who join the army – attribute all kinds of curative powers to him.

Returning to the PO-552, and after 4.7 km, we take another turnoff to the right to visit Tomiño, whose Romanesque church is worth a special mention. From Tomiño there are 12.3 km to Tui, a town with many places worth seeing which we will visit on the third day of our route.

Day 3

We begin our tour of  Tui with a visit to the Cathedral and its museum. Afterwards we will walk down Misericordia Street, where we can see the Chapel of San Telmo, patron saint of Tui. We will continue along Corpo Santo Street and up the Pasadizo de las Monjas (Nuns' Passageway) to visit the Encerradas Convent (Convent of the Confined), where the grilles on the windows are of particular interest. We should not forget that this is a cloistered convent, and therefore we will only be able to visit the church, which is open during hours of worship. We will enquire about the specific times at the convent, as they vary depending on the hours of other chapels or churches.

We will also visit the church of the Santo Domingo Convent. This temple houses two beautiful altarpieces and is used as the setting for different exhibitions. This church contains the tomb of Don Diego de Zúñiga y Sotomayor, Bishop of Ourense and Zamora in the 17th century.

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A short distance from Tui, at the exit towards Vigo, we can turn off towards the San Bartolomeu de Rebordáns Church. Right opposite the temple there is a beautifully sculptured stone cross. Introducing a coin into a timer mechanism, the lights of the church will come on for a few minutes. If we climb down some steps we will be able to see the excavations located under the church.

This last afternoon will be dedicated to enjoying the Monte Aloia Nature Park. To reach the park, we will leave Tui towards A Guarda. Shortly after, we will find a signpost on the right-hand side of the road that shows the way. Once on the other side of the first village we go through we will be in the park. The best point to start our visit to the park is the Enxeñeiro Areses Wildlife Interpretation Centre-Forestry Centre. It is located to the right, on a slope. In these facilities we can obtain guides of the different trekking routes through the park, information on wildlife species and all there is to know about the area's environmental value. There is the possibility of guided tours. Furthermore, this centre was built in memory of and as a tribute to Rafael Areses, who dedicated his life to protecting Galicia's natural heritage. Even today the centre contains some of the objects he used in his walks through the mountains, such as a knife and a walking stick.

Mount Aloia Nature Park has everything needed to welcome visitors: tables, recreation areas, areas designed specifically for campfires, etc. Additionally, there is a restaurant beside the San Xulián Shrine. After spending the afternoon in the park, we will go back down to Tui, where our route ends.

Arriba