Pontevedra information

Introduction to the Province of Pontevedra
In the north west of Spain is the province of Pontevedra, part of Galicia. Bordered by the Atlantic on one side and Portugal on another, it is perhaps one of the country’s most remote outposts and as a result you will discover an unspoilt, still very traditional place and way of life.

Pontevedra City
The capital of the province, the city of Pontevedra, is perhaps the most authentic example that you will find of the Gallego way of life and its typical architecture. In the Middle Ages, Pontevedra was the most important port in Galicia, sited as it is at the end of the fjord-like river, the Rio de Pontevedra. When the harbour began to silt up however, Pontevedra lost its attraction and was actually replaced as the capital of the province by nearby Vigo for a few years.

The city is very compact but you can easily lose yourself in the maze of cobbled streets and arcaded squares in the lovely old part of town (the Zona Monumental). The Plaza de Leña is still just how everyone imagines a typical Galician square should look, with its central stone cross (cruciero), granite buildings, stone columns and arches and glazed balconies. The provincial museum is situated in this square. For another glimpse of unchanged Galicia, visit the typical two storey covered market beside the river. The square of Plaza de Teucro, where almost every building bears a heraldic coat of arms, is rich in Galician history.

The grand 16th Century Renaissance Basilica of Santa Maria that owes its existence to the city’s Guild of Sailors and the highly unusual circular Chapel of the Pilgrims (Capela de Virxe Peregrina), in the large Plaza de Ferreria, should not be missed. This plaza is the hub of the city, with plenty of bars, cafes and shops to explore around it and off its side streets.

Around Pontevedra City and Beyond
Although Pontevedra is the capital city of the province, Vigo is actually its largest and most populated town. In fact, Vigo for a time replaced Pontevedra as the capital. Vigo is Spain’s chief fishing port and has nearly 5km of quays and wharves. The steep, cobbled streets of Vigo are fun to explore, as are the morning fish markets.

Vigo is somewhat sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic weather by the Islas Cies (Cies Islands) that lie in the mouth of the River Vigo. One of these islands is an off-limits bird reserve, but the other two islands provide the best sandy beaches in the area. In fact one of the islands’ beaches often makes it onto lists of the “World’s Best Beaches” You can reach the islands (which form part of the Galician Atlantic Islands National Park) by boat from the Estacion Maritima in Vigo.

In the south of the province, the town of Tuy (or Tui) is Galicia’s main border town with Portugal and has an imposing Cathedral as well as some riverside “beaches”.

Other towns and villages worth exploring are the resort town of O Grove (which has an annual seafood festival), Camborra (where you can see the typical “horreos” or stone granary buildings on legs of the area), Bueu and Bayona. The southernmost town is La Guardia and in the thickly wooded hills in this area are to be found Pontevedra’s herds of wild horses.

Pontevedra’s landscape is defined by its “Rias”, the many rivers that flow out into the Atlantic, forming deep valleys and steep-sided gorges behind them as they pass. The inlets, estuaries and bays along Pontevedra’s long coastline are full of beaches, many wild and exposed, some sheltered and secluded, but none crowded. Playa de Mogor is just one such beach.

The Gastronomy of Pontevedra
If you enjoy fish and seafood, then Pontevedra will be your idea of heaven. From its Atlantic waters are caught daily: oysters (Ostras), crayfish (Cigalas), mussels (Mejillones), sardines (sardines), octopus (Pulpo) and cockles (Berberejos). From the inland waters come lamprey (Lambrea), trout (Trucha), salmon (Salmon) and eels (Anguillas). Two typical Pontevedra dishes are Zarzuela de Pescados, which is a fish stew, and Paella al Albariño, a rice paella, brimming with all types of fish and seafood. You will also come across the popular Empanadas (pastry filled with fish and/or meat, similar to a pasty).

To wash down your meal, you must try the famous Albariño white wines.

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