"Pontevedra gives water to travellers" is a Galician proverb that perfectly expresses the essence of this city: its hospitality.

This welcoming tradition is reflected in the Pilgrim Virgin, emblem of The Portuguese way to Santiago. To honour her, a unique church was built, which has become a national monument, and whose floor is in the shape of a scallop shell!

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In Pontevedra everything is just a step away and there is so much to see…Genuine treasures, such as the collection of gold and silver pieces in the Museum of Pontevedra, unique in Europe, with magnificent jewellery dating back 4,000 years. And other jewels, the Church of Santa María, Ruins of Santo Domingo and the  Church of San Bartolomé.

But there is more still. Parks, tree-lined avenues, walks by the river in the middle of the city and a historic centre that, after that of Santiago, is Galicia's most important. Inhabited stone houses with coats of arms on their façades, fountains and gardens, squares that are full of life and pavement cafés with a lively atmosphere that lasts until the early hours. This is the life. No one sleeps in Pontevedra.

Essential

Visitors to Pontevedra should not leave without walking along the banks of the River Lérez, recently recuperated for leisure use by city dwellers, offering walkers a highly evocative experience, with quiet stretches that have an almost dreamlike quality.

The northern bank has the best areas for a peaceful stroll, including the Illa das Esculturas, offering walks that combine nature and culture. This sevenhectare island contains a varied list of works by renowned Galician and foreign sculptors, set in a natural space of great ecological value.

Recommended route

In the beginning...

We begin our walk in the attractive old part of the city, which apart from the unavoidable interest of its monuments, stands out for its harmonious use of stone, full of noble homes emblazoned with coats of arms, arched arcades and squares bustling with city life.

On the squares of Pontevedra...

We start out at the Basilica of Santa María A Maior, situated in one of the highest points of the city. It was built in the sixteenth century, paid for by the guild of seafarers, who lived in the neighbourhood of A Moureira, at the foot of the southern façade of the church, exquisitely carved in "Plateresque" style. Continuing with our search for the noble character of the city, we then continue along Isabel II Street until reaching Teucro Square, named after the mythical Greek founder of the city, where we find a number of eighteenth-century Baroque mansions (Gago, Montenegro, and the home of the Conde de San Román e Pita). We continue through the squares of Curros Enríquez and Méndez Núñez, with coats of arms decorating numerous houses. It is particularly interesting to walk through these winding but highly evocative streets, especially enchanting at night, which constantly open out into welcoming squares, many of which still preserve the name of their former function, such as the Verdura ("Vegetable") Square, which is still in use, or the Leña("Firewood") Square, very popular and typical, with houses made of finely cut granite, archways, galleries and a roadside cross in the centre that is one of the best-known sights in Pontevedra. Here we find Pontevedra Museum, which contains an important variety of exhibits that should not be missed.

Around the Ferrería Square

We continue on towards the Ferrería Square, with a beautiful sixteenthcentury fountain in its centre, with a large open space that includes the Estrela Square and the Gardens of Casto San Pedro. This is the heart of the city, a place to stroll, enjoy leisure time and enjoy numerous festivals, watched over by the convent of San Francisco and the church of A Peregrina. The former   has conserved its Gothic church, more than one hundred metres long, with a façade featuring a large rose window and a large number of tombs of illustrious residents of the city. In turn, A Peregrina, situated alongside the Portuguese Way leading to Santiago de Compostela, was built in the shape of a scallop shell with a curved façade at the end of the eighteenth century. 

By the River...

From here we take Cobián Roffignac Street, which contains the newly-extended installations of Pontevedra Museum, and head towards the river, where after crossing the Santiago bridge we may visit the attractive Rosalía de Castro Park. Continuing along the Enxeñeiro Rafael Areses promenade, we see the Illa das Esculturas (Island of Sculptures), which contains pieces in large format by a number of wellknown artists in an area of some 70,000 square metres, in which nature plays an important role. Nearby is an interesting piece of contemporary architecture well worth a visit, the Congress and Exhibitions Centre, and the university campus.

Returning to the city...

We return towards the city taking the bridge of O Burgo, Roman in origin but replaced in the twelfth century by another with eleven semi-circular arches, the crossing point for the Portuguese Way to Santiago, with the beautiful chapel of O Santiaguiño. From here we continue towards the magnificent marketplace or Mercado de Abastos, restored by the architect César Portela in 2003, and then on to the Pedreira Square, which contains the Baroque mansion of Mugartegui, home to the Regulatory Authority of the "Rías Baixas" Protected Geographical Variety, and in another corner an old house forming an archway that indicates the way out of the square. We then head towards the Parador or state-run hotel, in a building constructed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

From Parador to the Café Moderno...

Our route then takes us through the busy wine bar district, through the Cinco Rúas Square, after Paio Gómez Chariño Square, and then into Tetuán Street, which contains the Teatro Principal, a theatre built in Provincial Administration of Pontevedra  and the mid-nineteenth century, and the Casa das Campás, which houses the Dean's office of the university. Nearby is España Square, with the Town Hall, the Gothic ruins of Santo Domingo with its romantic air, and a series of green spaces that are the remains of the gardens of the Dominican friars: the Alameda Arquitecto Sesmeros, the Xardíns de Colón and the Gardens of Vincenti. From here we continue towards San Xosé Square (or Praza da Música – "The Music Square"), a truly cultured area, as it contains the Café Moderno (now used as the A Banca Cultural Centre) and the A Banca Cultural Centre.

At the end of the route... 

Reaching the end of our route, we continue along Raíña Victoria Eugenia Avenue and San Roque Street, until reaching the Praza de Touros or bullring, where we may also have the opportunity to visit some of the typical fishermen's houses in the district of A Moureira, simple but elegant in their own way, set back from the road and with double gables. From here we return to the Alameda park and end in Alonso de Fonseca Square, after walking down the avenue known as the Avenida de Santa María, which includes the homes of the Fonseca family and Méndez Núñez, despite having lost the impressive archbishop's towers that once stood there.

Where to eat

The numerous outdoor terraces in the Ferrería and Estrela square, as well as the streets around San Sebastián Street or the Verdura Square, all contain bars and restaurants offering a wide range of meat and vegetable dishes as well as seafood from the estuary.

The city is a gastronomic reflection of its surrounding area, with excellent pork and veal from the interior of the province, fish and shellfish from the sea in front of the city, and delicious Albariño wines, particularly those from the region of O Salnés.

Don't miss

  • FESTIVAL OF "OS MAIOS"
    Held in the Ferrería Square on the first of May. Pagan festival connected with fertility rites. A series of groups specially dressed for the occasion dance to the rhythm of satirical verses around a number of conical monuments made of ferns, wicker and flowers, adorned with produce from the countryside.
  • FESTIVAL OF SAN BENITIÑO DE LÉREZ
    Every 11 July. Declared a festival of National Tourist Interest. Held on the site of a former Benedictine monastery next to the river Lérez. Devotion for the saint, known as "the most miraculous", brings a multitude of devout worshippers to the festival seeking cures for their afflictions, particularly warts.
  • INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
    Held during the month of July. Night-time festival that is an important reference point on the national Jazz circuit.
  • FESTIVALS OF A PEREGRINA
    Starting on the second Sunday in August, continuing throughout the following week. Include offerings to the Virgin, a bullfight (the only opportunity to see this spectacle in Galicia in a stable setting and in an open-air ring), concerts and fireworks.
  • FEIRA FRANCA
    Held during the first weekend in September. In memory of the farmers' markets held in the old town in the fifteenth century. Mediaeval atmosphere.
  • CARNIVAL
    Start on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with a large parade. Shrove Tuesday is celebrated the Noite Pirata and on Friday the Mostra da Parodia in the city's streets. It ends on Saturday with the "Burial of Ravachol the Parrot", a very important figure in Pontevedra's carnival. Dates vary.
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