If you are going to walk one of the Portuguese routes, either the Portuguese Coastal Way or the Portuguese Interior Way, you will pass through the wonderful city of Pontevedra, the “Good City” (Boa Vila). Let’s find out more about this provincial capital and why Pontevedra has become a symbol of a sustainable city all over the world. We will introduce you to its historic center, to discover the incredible past that has left signs still present in the urban landscape.
Pontevedra: a bit of history
It is believed that the first human settlements dates back to Roman domination, since no evidence of previous origins has been recovered. This urban center, was initially called Duos Pontes and then Pontis Veteris, in reference to the Roman bridge originally built over the river Lérez. According to a legend, it was Teucro himself, hero of the Iliad, who founded the city of Pontevedra.
In medieval times, under the reign of Ferdinand II, the bridge was rebuilt to its present appearance (the Ponte de O Burgo). In the same period, in the city were made important works of construction and maintenance of the roads and bridges, in view of the increasing growth that the city was experiencing.
The church of the Pilgrim Virgin
Right along the Portuguese Way, when you arrive in the city, you will find this chapel whose plant is shaped like a scallop shell. Begun in 1778, this monument in honor of the Virgin, which protects pilgrims on their way from Bayona to Santiago, was declared a Historical-Artistic Monument in 1982 and an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2011. Inside we find the image of the Pilgrim Virgin, patron saint of the province of Pontevedra and the Portuguese Way.
Right in front of this church, you will find a statue that might intrigue you. It is in fact the parrot Ravachol, considered probably one of the most famous parrots in the world. Still today we celebrate a feast in its honor every year during the carnival! This parrot, which lived between 1891 and 1913, was the faithful companion of the pharmacist Perfecto Feijoo, and was so loved by the citizens of Pontevedra that a public funeral and a statue were dedicated to him.
The Ruins of Santo Domingo
A splendid example of the purest Gothic in Galicia, today we can only see the remains of the ancient 14th century Convent of Santo Domingo, which was declared a National Monument in 1889.
Church of San Francesco
This very central building, part of the Convent of San Francesco, has undergone several changes over the centuries. It presents in fact a single element of the ancient construction, the Romanesque facade with the rose window, while the rest of the structure dates back to the thirteenth century, although it was later modified in the Middle Ages and then in the Modern Age.
Get to know the surroundings of Pontevedra
Very close to the city of Pontevedra, you can visit Combarro, a beautiful fishing village, with its famous granaries (hórreos). Sanxenxo, famous maritime destiny and fall in love with beaches like La Lanzada or San Vicente do Grove. Just 40 minutes by car you can get to know the so-called Galifornia, the California of Galicia. In addition, a visit to cities like Baiona, A Guarda, Cambados and many other points of interest, will be the perfect excuse to book a few more days on the Portuguese way and enjoy the Galician landscape and its coasts.
Pontevedra, a city awarded for its model of sustainable urban quality
In the last 20 years, Pontevedra, has been the protagonist of a drastic urban change that has led the capital to win several awards in recognition of the sustainability and accessibility of the urban center for pedestrians and disabled people. Below we list some of the most important international awards won by the city of Pontevedra:
- In 2011 it received the Spanish award for safe and sustainable mobility during the II Congress of Cities for Road Safety of Spain.
- In 2013 it was awarded the European Intermodes prize in Brussels for its urban quality and its “Metrominuto” (This model inspired the urban plans of Florence, Ferrara, Modena and Cagliari).
- In 2014 it also received in Dubai the UN “UN-Habitat” international award for its urban quality of life and accessibility policy.
- In 2015 it received the following awards
- The International award for urban excellence from the Center for Active Design, in New York City
- The Eurochina prize for smart urban mobility, awarded by the French association Prospective et Innovation
- The Award Ciudades que caminan (Cities that walk) of Torres Vedras, which promotes walking mobility
Considered a paradise among Spanish cities, by the newspaper “The Guardian”, the city is often the protagonist of foreign reportages that want to copy its model.
At Galiwonders, we invite you to get to know this wonderful city along your Portuguese Way, to get lost in the streets of its historic center and relax in one of the many bars with a good glass of local wine and some tapas to recover your energy. Contact us for any request for information and Buen Camino!