RIA DE PONTEVEDRA AND THE CITY


RIA OF PONTEVEDRA

The opening of the Pontevedra Ria stretches from Cabicastro Point, to the west of Canelas Beach, in the north, and Point Centoleira in the south. Its easternmost point is more difficult to establish, given the mouth of the River Lérez, but we can fix it in the city of Pontevedra, where the river meets the sea, about 14 km from the mouth of the ria, which has the shape of a perfect wedge of sea encrusted in the continent in a southwest-northeast direction.

Around the Pontevedra Ria and its shores, art and history combine to please the traveller. Its coast houses beautiful cities like Pontevedra, monasteries like Poio, or further inland, Armenteira; towns like Marín, which combines its naval life with fishing, and Bueu, which clearly lives from fishing and sea-food; tourist centres like Sanxenxo, Portonovo and San Vicente de O Grove; picturesque villages like Aldán -at the head of its own little ria, an offshoot of Pontevedra Ria- Raxó, Combarro and Mogor.

Depending on sunshine hours, the many beaches bordering the ria are ideal places to visit in summer. When sailing there are many anchorages, especially for craft of little draft, pre-eminently tourist ports like Aguete, Pontevedra, Sanxenxo, Portonovo and Pedras Negras, with facilities for all types of leisure sailing, alternating with fishing ports like Aldán, Bueu, Marín, Combarro and Raxó.

Although the south coast of the ria is home to the Naval Academy, and Marín has a cargo terminal, there is little large-draft shipping, and the leisure uses of the ria are not disturbed. Marín Naval Academy and the Island of Tambo, given their military nature, are of limited access.


Ons Islands, has just recently been declared part of "The Archipelago Atlantic Islands National Park". These island acts as a natural shield for the Ria of Pontevedra against the Ocean, and thus the Ons islands are in the vanguard, the ideal place for summer relaxation, with splendid beaches and interesting flora and fauna. According to Father Sarmiento, it is possible that the Compostelan Chapter - to whom the island was donated- had built a monastery here in the Middle Ages. In the 18th century, the island was fortified in order to prevent the attack of French troops. It was then when Ons was inhabited by a population which has stayed there until not many years ago. The island had several owners during the 19th century, but only the last one of them was able to make the economy grow by building a salting plant. In 1943 it was expropriated by the State and in 1981 became the property of the Xunta of Galicia.


Sanxenxo, one of the capitals of Galician tourism, with a much multiplied population in summer. Planning excesses have swept away the remains of the old town. Everything is modern. A Lanzada Beach, with more than 4 km. of sand, belongs to the municipalities of O Grove and Sanxenxo, and is one of Galicia's most visited beaches. Beautiful legends include the one about bathing in "nove olas" (nine waves) to find a marriage partner and ensure descendants. Wayside chapel of St Mary of A Lanzada may be the remains of an old lighthouse.


A Lanzada beach, with the remains of a tower & a small hermitage which was erected in mid-14th century. However, some of its elements are clearly Romanesque: it only has one nave, the semicircular apse, the rosette-shaped window and trusses with animal figures. Once inside, the archs have an ogival influence. On the last Sunday in August, a festival is celebrated round the temple, ending up with the tradition of the "Bath of the nine waves".


Combarro village, considered as a National Monument, in Combarro the visitor has the feeling of walking along a sort of natural museum, where all the components that shape Galician landscape are exhibited. Within a reduced space, sailor and peasant houses, small boats and carts are harmoniously combined. Houses are erected on rock and copious hórreos (Stone granaries on still to store corn) -from which some artists have derived their inspiration- can be seen mingled amidst its narrow streets, as suspended above the sea.


PONTEVEDRA CITY

The council of Pontevedra has 73,871 inhabitants who are spread around its 16 parishes. Its location at the end of the estuary; on the mouth of the river Lérez, defended by the sandy barriers from the attacks by the sea, marked this city and its inhabitants historically. Pontevedra has a central situation as regards the Rías Baixas. Few kilometres far from it, you can see the Castiñeiras Lake and the Cotoredondo viewpoint, the beaches of O Morrazo and San Xenxo, the nucleus of Combarro or the Toxa Island. There are four mountainous sectors in the council, divided by two faults among them, which converge around the capital. The first corresponds to a cavity that comprises from Carballo to Tui and it is used as the course of the axis of communication of western Galicia. The second one was used by the river Lérez to install its fluvial course. Thus, this council is expanded over the bottom of the estuary of the same name, occupying the fluvial valleys of the Lérez and the Tomeza towards the south and goes towards the mouth of the river Verdugo in Ponte Sampaio. The river Lérez is the axis of the hydrographic mains. This river carries much water and it is mixed with the sea in its mouth, being this factor the one that motivated the creation of the port, which gave origin to the city. The climate is warm and rainy, and the temperatures are pleasant throughout the whole year.

HISTORY

A proof indicating that Pontevedra was inhabited since the inferior Paleolithic are the hatchets found on the terraces of the main fluvial courses. The Celtic culture was also very present in the council, where there are remains of excavations in places like Mouronte and Salcedo, such as bronze hooks and stones used for shellfishing activities. The Roman Bridge is the symbol of the city and a very old myth, founded by Teucro, Greek archer who, after the War of Troya, travelled to the West to build the town. However, the Romans were the ones who built the previous bridge of the present one in the Burgo over the Lérez, and they established the Mansion of Turoqua, in the via XIX. Thus, the path, as well as the bridge, are the origins of its foundation. In the 12th century, with the kingdom of Fernando II, the city appears for the first time with its present name - Pontem Veteris, referring to the ruins of the old Roman Bridge - in a document of the monastery in Poio -. As time went by, new bridges crossed the Lérez reflecting the growth of the city and the growth of communications. During the 14th century new privileges confirm the potential of the suburbs of Pontevedra, based above all in the port and fishing activity. The economic activity was strengthened around the sardine: its fishing, the selling of fresh sardines to the interior, the salty sardine, the smoked sardine and its maritime exportation. Thus, it became the main port in Galicia. But in the 16th century, Pontevedra will reach the greatest economic and social splendour in the history, which came favoured by its strategic position in the Atlantic routes and by the social peace. This fact contrasts with the crisis of the city in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries due to the second place occupied by the port of Pontevedra in the commerce by sea, the climatic adversities suffered in Galicia in this time, and the placing of the capital of the middle class in safer incomes.


SIGHTS OF INTEREST:

MUSEUM OF PONTEVEDRA
Pasantería, 10
36002 Pontevedra
Phone Numbers: (986) 851455 - (986) 843238

HOURS OF VISITS
Winter (October 1st-31st May)
Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am-13:30 pm and 16:30 pm-20:00 pm
Sundays and Holidays, 11:00 am-13:00 pm
Closed on Monday

Summer (June 1st-September 30th)
Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am-14:15 pm and 17:pm-20:45 pm
Closed on Monday

Building Castro Monteagudo, first site for the Museum. Small baroque palace, with pleasant dimensions and ornament, whose construction was promoted in 1760 by Castro Monteagudo. Castelao and Sánchez Cantón contributed to its adaptation as a Museum and Argenti and Fernández Cochón conducted the enlargements. A balconade was added that connects it with the building Fernández López, as well as the stairway and passage leading to the palace García Flórez, elements that spring from the destroyed palace of San Román, dating back to the same period. Archaeology and Old Painting collections are exhibited here, as well as pieces of minor arts and furniture.

Building Sarmiento, close to the building García Flórez's façade. Its construction was begun around 1695 and was finished in 1714. It has a flat main front, flanked by pilasters, with shield, disarrayed outside walls, cloister with large pilasters and typically Galician dimensions and stairway with granite balustrades. The semibasements with arcades suggest the existence of an initial Roman outline. It includes galleries for temporary exhibitions, lapidary series of rupestrian Engravings and Roman epigraphy, a collection of folk Galician Pottery, Music galleries, Galician draftsmen and engravers, 18th-century Galician Art and Galician contemporary Art and Tiles' gallery. It also holds restoration, archaeology, carpentry and maintenance workshops, as well as a photogaphic laboratory and several warehouses.

Building García Flórez, urban palace erected in the 18th century on the orders of Antonio García Estévez Fariña, Perpetual Aldeman of the Village. It is likely the work of an architect belonging to the Compostelan school,as it can be derived from its gable wall with arcades, its high balconies and its distribution of bays. It was opened in 1942, after the restoration conducted by architect Fernández Cochón. It holds the Museum's Third Section: minor Arts, naval Galleries, Compostelan engraving Gallery, San Telmo's Chapel, religious Sculpture, traditional Galician Cuisine, Romantic Gallery, Castelao's Gallery and Sargadelos earthenware.

Building Fernández López, work financed by the Museum's benefactor, José Fernández López. Project of architect Alfonso Barreiro. Building of new construction, except for the 17th -century small house and its 18th-century annexe. It was opened in 1965. It includes the 19th and 20th-centuries Spanish Painting Gallery, the Library, the Researchers' Galleries, the Assembly Room, the Graphic and Documentary Archives, the Offices and the Administration. The Spanish Painting Gallery comprises Goya and his disciples' period, Romantic Painting, Catalonian Painters, Impressionism, Generation of 1860, Sorolla and the "Sorollesque", Orientalist Modernism, Basque Painters and cubism and other avantgardes.


Leña Square
, its setting builds up one of the most characteristic images of the town. "Leña" (firewood) used to be sold at this square to light up the old stoves. The three buildings of the Provincial Museum -Fernández López, Castro Monteagudo and García Flórez's Pazo- are situated on the square's right side.


Herrería Square, its name ("herrería" means "blacksmith's") is derived from the craftsman blacksmith shops which were formerly installed under its stone arcades. The square is embraced by noblemen's houses, amongst which a 15th century one, a 16th century one and two dating back to the 18th century stand out. Formerly, the Herrería fountain (1536) -which nowadays presides the nearby gardens of San Francisco churchyard, was situated at the centre of the square.


La Peregrina Church, was erected in 1778. Its circular ground plan imitates the form of a scallop. It has a neoclassical altarpiece presided by the image of the Pilgrim Virgin. The name of Pilgrim is derived from the fact that seemingly she would guide the pilgrims who followed the route by sea in direction to Compostela. The shell with holy water that there is in the temple is a great model brought from the Pacific by admiral Méndez Núñez.


Ruins of Santo Domingo Convent, it was formerly a convent of Friar Preachers founded at the end of the 13th century. Its interior is supported by the Museum of Pontevedra. Once we go beyond the entrance, the headpieces, the five apses and a wall can be seen, all of them remnants of the original construction which turn the temple into the most valued sample of Gothic style in Galicia. In the 18th, century there was an attempt to carry out a reform with Neoclassical aesthetics, but it was not concluded. Some other elements which can be admired in its interior are a superb exhibition of coats of arms, the sepulchers of Tristán de Montenegro or Paio Gómez de Soutomaior, Roman steles, mediaeval sepulchra, remnants of Paleochristian and Swabian periods and Romanesque pieces brought from other temples in the whole of Galicia.


Santa María Basilica, its construction was commissioned by the Guild of Mareantes in the 16th century. Its beautiful façade, after the fashion of a great stone altarpiece, is one of the jewels within Galician Plateresque architecture. Its authors were Cornelius of Holland and Joao Noble. San Pedro and San Pablo are represented on each side of the door; crowning it, the scene of the Transit of the Virgin. On top of the baldaquin the heads of the apostles come into view and, further up, the evangelists Marcos and Lucas. The figure of the Virgin of the Assumption is placed above the rosette. Another biblical and historic characters -such as Columbus or Hernán Cortés- are displayed along the main front. The temple has got three aisles separated by columns.