O RIBEIRO VALLEY
AND OURENSE CITY
O RIBEIRO VALLEY
On a visit to the area of the
Ribeiro where one can study the cultivation of the world-famous Galician wine
and only 30 Kilometres from Ourense, on the Miño riverside is
Ribadavia, the capital of the Ribeiro wine country. Abobrica seems to have been
the first name of
Ribadavia, word whose origin is supposed to be Celtic and that means 'town of the
grandfather', which was the previous name of the Avia. The town was originally located
on the left bank of the river and afterwards it was transferred to the right bank, and
in the Middle Ages, it was called Rippa Avie, name of Roman origin.
It is one of the most picturesque and monument-rich villages in Ourense. The history of
Ribadavia is described through its monuments and medieval quarters, with large houses,
fortifications, castles and churches, and styles that go from Asturian pre-roman to the
ogival. Large houses, such as La Huerta del Castillo, or the one named Los Condes,
fortifications such the Castle itself, temples such as the ogival Santo Domingo, the one
of Santiago or Santa María de Oliveira, with a Plateresque vault, and the Jewish quarter
dates from the 11th century, authentic architectural relic, which you can still
contemplate in the quarter of the Porta Nova, place that stands out because of its
streets and arcades from the age.
On September 1st, they have the
Festa da Istoria (History festival) in Ribadavia, which consists on a pantomime
representing an outstanding fact of its past, after a long walk along some
streets of the town, dressed with
representative suits of historical characters. This habit lasted until 1868 and it was
recovered recently, becoming one of the most attractive cultural and festival meetings
in the province. Also celebrated in this village is the Festa do Ribiero (Ribeiro wine
festival), from April 28th to May 1st.
Celtic Hill-fort of Castro San Cibran de
Las, located in San Amaro, Ourense. This Celtic hill-fort is one of the most
impressive in Galicia due to it's double fortified enclosures and it's commanding
position over the Miño valley. It was discovered by Florentino Cuevillas in 1922. It's
colossal size stretches 380 metres long and 314 metres wide and sheltered over 8,840
habitants. Inside there are groups of stone dwellings of different types: circular due
to the Celts and rectangular coinciding roman take over of the hill-fort. It is supposed
to have been inhabited from the 2nd Century B.C. to the 2nd Century A.D.
It is possible that the name
Ourense has a Celtic origin, since the initial setting was the territory
occupied by the thermal waters known
As Burgas, even though the town, located on the left margin of the River Miño,
has more connection to the Roman Auria.
In relation to this, some archaeological samples of the period are preserved in its
Provincial Museum. Part of this building contains an original Roman
construction, next to the sewers of Cervantes Street, of the same era, and the so called
Puente Viejo or old
Roman Bridge, one of the most beautiful and oldest in Europe, which gives access
to the city.
The old centre of the city has been declared as a whole National Artistic and Historical
Monument and it incorporates the principal monuments of Orense, the
Cathedral, besides the Plaza Mayor built in the second half of the XII Century, and as
the old Episcopal Palace. An example of the Swabian period, and, of the active Medieval
social life are the columns in the façade of the Church of Santa María Madre.
These monuments have been undergoing transformations throughout their history. The
Cathedral, a superimposition of Romanesque and Gothic, was not finished until the
XVI Century and reconstructed, almost entirely, in the XIX Century. The current Church
of Santa María Madre replaces another Romanesque one, lost for the most part in the
It can be reached by a small staircase from the romantic Magdalena square. The
transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic can be appreciated in the cloister of San
Francisco, a convent which was rebuilt at the beginning of the XVI Century, on the
current site, as a witness to the ecclesiastic fights of the city.
In the historic-civil buildings, stand out the house-palaces of the Boanes family, of
the Oca-Valladares and the XVI and XVII arcades, which is the former jail of the Corona,
and the ones that are next to the Hierro square, with its Renaissance fountain.
Placed between the
Plaza Mayor (Main Square) and the Posio gardens, with its horse chestnut trees,
is located the Church of the Santísima Trinidad, with an ogival portico and two
cylindrical towers which flank the façade.
Orense is also a place for good restaurants and taverns, which the traveller can find in
Cervantes and San Miguel streets, in order to taste the good Ribeiro wine and one of the
gastronomic specialities of Galicia, before going shopping in Habana Avenue or El Paseo.