RIA DE VIGO AND THE CITY


RIA OF VIGO

The Ria of Vigo is wedge-shaped, like a great mouth, open as though land's fangs were devouring a stretch of sea. There is, however, a remarkable difference between this ria and the others of southern Galicia. While those of Muros, Arousa and Pontevedra get narrower at the landward end, Vigo's Ria is narrowest at Rande, widening again to form the San Simón Bay. At the entrance of Vigo's Ria, standing like three stone watch-towers aground in the ocean, are the Cíe Islands, a protected natural park, where one may contemplate interesting samples of fauna -among which the guillemot stands out- and flora, where Corema album is queen. The Cíes, which can be reached from Vigo, are not only outstanding for their natural interest, but also for the ruggedness of their cliffs and the whiteness of their beaches, not forgetting that, up to a point, they protect the ria from storms coming in from the Atlantic, permitting the presence of numerous bateas (mussel-farming platforms) in its waters. Vigo's Ria, owing to its privileged situation, is home not only for the city that gives it its name, with one of the best harbours in Europe, but also to other places with a long and rich history-we must not forget that the ria has been a trade route since prehistoric times. Contiguous with its southern shore is Baiona, set on an open cove by the mouth of the River Miñor, where for several hundred years trade was concentrated before the spectacular development of Vigo at the end of the 19th Century. On the north shore is Cangas, a town with a strong economic drive which still preserves what is traditional and typical in its streets, together with ancestral customs, as does Moaña, another beautiful seafaring spot. To the northeast, the ria becomes narrower at Rande, where it is crossed by the motorway linking Vigo with the north of Galicia, thanks to a spectacular suspension bridge, with one of the longest spans in the world. After Rande, we come to Redondela, a town marked by the railway and its iron bridges. At the head of the ría is Pontesampaio, a name resounding in overtones of freedom -for the battle that brought an end to French dominion in 1809- and Arcade, one of Europe's major oyster beds.


Soutomaior, placed near the ria of Vigo. It has an approximate extension of 25 square kilometres, and it is made up by two parishes: a coastal one, Arcade, and an interior one, Soutomaior. Most part of the history of this township has to do with the castle and the family of Soutomaior. The Castle of Soutomaior is placed in a privileged place due to the wide scenery you can see. The original construction dates from the 12th century, although it will be with Pedro Madruga with whom it will achieve the biggest splendor because it was the centre of the political activity in the south of Galicia during the 15th century. But this is not the typical inaccessible castle built in the high rocks of difficult climbing. To the west and north, there are some rocks and some slopes, to the east and south, the land is flat and you can easily get to the defensive walls. At the end of the 19th century, the castle is under the domain of the marquis of Vega de Armixo, who transforms it in a summer residence; it will suffer several changes like the neo-gothic construction of the 'Ladies Gallery'. After several posterior changes and the abandon of the construction, it passed to the propriety of the county council of Pontevedra in 1982. Today, you can visit it and it is the frequent setting of artistic expositions, conferences and courses. The exterior wall is defensive, it has an oval irregular floor, which is adapted to the rocks of the land. Outside it there are nice gardens with rich, varied and centenary flora: a square surrounded by bananas, an avenue of hydrangeas and a beautiful and varied collection of camellias. There are also chestnut trees of eight hundred years. In the high part of the land we can see the Chapel of San Caetano, where there is a popular festival each year in the month of August.


Redondela, this council belongs to the region of Vigo and it is situated in the south west of the province of Pontevedra, in the inner side of the ria of Vigo. The sea willingly bestows its fruits, especially the "choco" (small cuttlefish) -which is the patron to a popular festival- on its inhabitants. Amongst its yearly gastronomic exaltation fairs, the popular Festa da Coca (Coca's Festival) also stands out. The impressive viaduct of the railway Vigo-Ourense-Madrid is one of the most important constructions in the council. From the Middle Age, and as a remembrance of the noble families who lived here. Built by Pedro Floriani, how committed suicide from his very own bridge due to the people of the village saying that the bridge will never hold up the weight of a train and in the long run it did.


San Simon Island, famous for the battle of Rande which took place in the inlet's waters in 1709, where the Dutch-English army attacked and sank several Spanish galleons carrying gold from America. Julius Verne talks about this submarine treasure in his novel "Twenty-Thousand Leagues of Underwater Voyage". From the 12th to the 14th century, there was a templar monastery on San Simón island. It was later inhabited by Franciscan and Benedictine monks. In the 19th century it housed the isolation hospital of Tambo island. It seems as though it will soon be restored so that a centre for sea activities can be erected there.


In 1702 The Battle of Rande took place. The Anglo-Dutch fleet chased the Spanish Silver Fleet, and the French warships escorting it, into the ria. This important fleet, full of riches from America, was destroyed after a bloody battle at sea and on land. Today, there are still remains on the Rande sea bottom from this battle.

 

 

 


VIGO CITY

A good combination of a bay "with which, in many respects, none other in the world can compare" (G. Borrow) and maritime industrial infrastructure (shipyards, canneries, fishing port, etc.) explains the rapid growth of this city since the end of the 19th Century. Today it is the most populous city of Galicia. It has splendid parks, museums, a zoo and beaches. It still has the small old sailing quarter of O Berbés. Castrelos Park, surely the most beautiful municipal park in all Galicia, is home the Quiñones de León Manor Museum, now the city museum. The city of Vigo began its modern development from the last decades of the 19th-cent. onwards. However, this has not prevented it from being a historic, monumental city. The Celtic castro which was the city's origin, Galicia's largest Roman necropolis, the Romanesque temples, O Castro's mediaeval fortress.... and Martín Codax's poetic testimony give good evidence of our affirmation. The council of Vigo, with almost 300000 inhabitants, and being the most populated city of Galicia, is placed on one of the most beautiful landscapes in the peninsula, dominating the estuary which has the same name. Vigo and the sea are inseparable. In the 16th century its port, called Berbés, was a point of important international trade. The raids of Drake, which affected the city, also gave rise to many other struggles, whose turning-point came with the Battle of Rande and the sinking of the Galleons of the Indies. Later episodes of war marked the life of Vigo during the War of Independence. In the 19th century, the city was a provincial capital for some time. More importantly, its industrial and commercial achievements have made it a pillar of the Galician economy. The Neo-classical Collegiate of Santa María and the urban centre with its harmonious combination of quiet streets and broad avenues, all deserve a mention. Another suggested visit is the Quiñones de León Museum, which holds some important collections, mainly of paintings. Not to be forgotten are the splendid views over the ria and the nearby Cíes Islands, that can be seen from O Castro, the A Guía and the A Madroa.


SIGHTS OF INTEREST:

MUNICIPAL MUSEUM QUIÑONES DE LEÓN
Parque de Castrelos
36213 VIGO
Phone Numbers: (986) 295070 - 295075
Fax: (986) 239372

VISITING HOURS
Winter (October 1st-April 30th)
Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 am-19:00 pm
Sundays and Holidays, 10:00 am-14:00 pm
Closed on Monday

Summer (May 1st-September 30th)
Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 am-20:00 pm
Sundays and Holidays, 10:00 am-14:00 pm
Closed on Monday

This is located within the Quiñones de León Mansion (Castrelos) and is divided into three sections: Archeology, the History of the City, and Art. The first section exhibits those remains that were found in the city, in particular from the excavations at Monte del Castro. The second section contains objects relating to the War of Independence, whereas the third section has an outstanding collection of 20th-c Galician painting, which has recently been added to with works that where donated by the artist Laxeiro. The latter are exhibited in a separate building which bears the artist's name.
A Guía Vantage Point, far-reaching and panoramic view of the entire ría of Vigo - with O Morrazo peninsula, Rande bridge and Cíes islands - and of the city and its harbour area.


Museo do Mar (Sea Museum), housed in a former slaughterhouse and the ruins of a canning factory. Currently they have an exhibit about the Battle of Rande.


O Castro Vantage Point, There are several vantage points in the surroundings of mount O Castro. One of them is where the monument in tribute to Rande's galleons is located, from which part of the village, the harbour, the ría of Vigo and the Morrazo coast comes into view. From the vantage point of the monument in memory of the troubadour Martín Códax -who has most excellently sung to Vigo's sea- the western part of the city -Citröen's factory, the ría's mouth, the Cíes islands and Toralla can be contemplated. Some beautiful views of the ría, the city and the harbour can also be enjoyed from the walls of O Castro fortress.


Porta do Sol is the the city’s shopping and historical centre. The opening in 1896 of Elduayen Street (between Porta do Sol and Paseo de Alfonso XII) led to the demolishment of several areas, the rebuilding of middle-class buildings and the division into two parts of the old walled town. Port do Sol is dominated by O Sereo, which is the work of the sculptor Francisco Leiro. On top of two columns there is a cast-iron figure, the representation of an imaginary figure, a hybrid of fish and man, who is looking out to sea.


Berbés Quarter, Vigo was born from the sea, round a small fishing village that increasingly spread in direction to the mountain. Today there still remain vestiges of that fishing quarter, with their narrow-fronted houses and arcades in which fish was sold. Also some taverns and the Stone market are retained, where the act of tasting fresh oysters turns into something similar to drinking a sip of the sea.


Santa María Collegiate Church, it used to be an ogival temple, which reached the status of collegiate church at the end of the 15th century. About a century later it was burnt down by pirate Drake; it was demolished in 1813. That shrine's tympanum is kept at the Museum of Pontevedra. At the beginning of the 19th century, the architect Melchor de Prado created the current Neoclassical temple. There is kept the image of the Christ of Victory, who interceded so that Vigo's inhabitants could defeat Napoleon troops in 1809. From that moment onwards his image has been taken in procession -the most attended one in the city - every year.

 

 


THE CIES ISLANDS

The Cíes Islands are one of the main tourist attractions in the south of Galicia. They were declared a Natural Reserve in 1980 and part of "The Archipelago Atlantic Islands National Park" in 2002. The archipelago, situated at the mouth of the Ria of Vigo, is formed by three main islands: Monteagudo, Monte Faro and San Martiño, along with small islets such as Agoeira, Viños, Carabelos and O Ruzo.

In addition to its beaches, the other main attraction of the Cíes (which have their own microclimate) is its cliffs and the so-called beehives and cacholas –round cavities produced in the surface of the rocks that end up merging together, giving rise to large hollows such as those of La Campana and the Alto del Príncipe. A similar process gives rise to pías (holes) in horizontal surfaces and fiurnas (caverns), of which there are 18 in the islands.

The first human settlement (Celtic) of which we have proof is the “castro” (fortified settlement) on the slope of Monte Faro, which dates from the beginning of the Iron Age. The Romans also made mention of the Cíes and settled there, as shown by ceramics, tiles and references by Strabon, Pliny or Ptolemy. In the Middle Ages the islands were visited by Normans and in the 11th century the first communities of Benedictine hermits appeared.

In the 16th century the corsair Drake and Berber pirates landed on the Cíes Isles. The continuous invasions lead to the abandonment of the islands from 1700 to the 19th century, when the first lighthouse was built. A Norwegian whaling factory was located on the islands during the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays, only game wardens and a native remain on the island throughout the year.


THE PENINSULA OF O MORRAZO


With the Atlantic Ocean lying to the west and the Pontevedra and Vigo rías to the north and south respectively, the densely populated Morrazo Peninsula takes in the small towns and villages of Marín, Bueu, Cangas, Moaña and Vilaboa. The Peninsula has an extraordinarily rich archeological heritage, including some particularly important remains from the Megalithic period.




Cangas
, sea and mountains blend in this municipality where different natural landscapes are portrayed. Fishing and agriculture, and several industries related to both sectors, are the main sources of income for Cangas' inhabitants, who have the privilege to possess some unsurpassable locations, such as beaches, soft hills and an uneven coastline. The village was founded by the Hellenes, and it is situated at an inlet at the bottom of the ría bearing its name. As centuries have gone by, numerous peoples have left their trace on its streets. The visitor who gets to Cangas looking for beaches will be surprised because of having discovered this landscape with beaches for everybody. There are almost 40 beaches only in the council, each of them with a singular beauty. Depending on the visitor's demand, he can choose, at the entrance of Cangas coming from Vigo, the beach of Rodeira, one of the biggest ones and with the best access. In Hío we have the sandy areas of Nerga and Barra, with transparent water and beautiful views of the Cíes Islands. The beach of Barra is the paradise for the nudists in the northern coast of Galicia, with total calmness, because cars cannot get there, so you have to walk for about a kilometre across a pinewood. But if you prefer to enjoy the wild water you will have to get to the beach of Melide, in the area of Cabo Home, surrounded by two lighthouses and with the Cíes Islands very close to it.


San Andrés De Hío Church, it was erected in the 12th century, at the height of the Romanesque period, as it can be derived from the elements retained from that time: the main front and the aisle walls. The tympanum is occupied by a huge San Andrés cross, and a series of trusses ornamented with ironic figures appear in its cornice. The church was reformed at the end of the 18th century. Rather than the temple itself, the atrium's transept -which is described in the section devoted to transepts- is worthy of admiration.
Hío Cruceiro (Wayside Cross), it is one of the most beautiful cruceiros in Galicia. It is placed in the yard of San Andrés de Hío church. It was sculpted in the 18th century -on top of a stone block- by Xosé Cerviño (Pepe da Pena), a sculptor from Cotobade. Baroque influenced, it displays the Unnailing scene. The column's shaft is occupied by an image of the Virgin, and it also features the sin of Adan and Eve. At its foot, together with the names of its donors, the souls in purgatory are shown.


Donon
, is a small coat village within the municipality of Cangas. It offers excellent views of the Cies Islands from the jagged cliffs. The beaches of Barra & Cabo Home (Man's Cape), which is in this area will be categorized as a Nature Park Reserve in the near future. It is an area open to the Atlantic, although protected by the Cies Islands in front. The history of this area dates back to the Celts & Romans a reminder of this is the Monte do Facho with an ancient stone light house from the 17th century believe to have an old version in this very same place. The hike up to the top of the hill is well worth the views, and if you are lucky to stay for a sunset you will be memorized of the natural beauty of the area. If you don't hike to the top of the hill the sunset is stunning as well from the village of Donon.