The province of Pontevedra is one of the 4 which comprise the autonomous region of Galicia northwest of Spain. Its capital city – of the same name – is known for its natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. Its Old Town is home to many…
The province of Pontevedra is one of the 4 which comprise the autonomous region of Galicia northwest of Spain. Its capital city – of the same name – is known for its natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. Its Old Town is home to many historic landmarks that will delight the history enthusiast and its strategic setting on a hilltop offers wonderful views of the Lerez River and the surrounding countryside.
The nearest airports are located in Vigo and Santiago de Compostela, both less than an hour’s drive from Pontevedra. If you are coming from Madrid or Barcelona, RENFE trains maintain a regular daily schedule to the area. Buses are also reliable transportation options from major Spanish cities.
A walking tour of Pontevedra will take visitors to beautiful old buildings, impressive centuries-old churches, lovely gardens and visit-worthy museums. The city’s picturesque Old Town is the best place to start your exploration because it is where most of the historic attractions are located.
Begin your adventure by walking past the town hall, Pazo do Concello, until you reach the handsome facade of the Teatro Principal. Take a turn along the narrow lane of Rua Tetuan located at the lower side of the theatre to visit the small medieval Nazarene chapel. Retrace your steps to the theatre and continue walking until you reach one of Pontevedra’s most famous plazas, the Prazo do Teucro. The square dates back to the 17th century and the impressive manor houses surrounding the lovely open space are a testament to the city’s glory days back in the day.
Next up is the bustling and charming Praza da Ferreria. It is one of the city’s most atmospheric locales featuring vibrant market stalls, lovely cafes and several of Pontevedra’s churches. Visit the 14th century Igrexa de San Francisco and enjoy excellent views of the plaza below. There are some 16th-18th century religious murals as well as ancient tombs to explore inside the church, if you have time for a short stop over. Nearby, you will experience the small yet towering Capela da Virxe Peregrina or the Chapel of the Pilgrims standing right along the route leading to Santiago de Compostela. It is a mandatory stop for pilgrims on their way to Galicia’s capital. Its unique shape – almost circular – and elaborate detailing make it one eye-catching landmark in the area.
The Museo Provincial de Pontevedra, all of the several buildings comprising it, is a must visit for those who want to learn more about Pontevedra’s history. Spend a few hours here and discover impressive collections of historical and archaeological artifacts that are considered to be one of the finest in all of Spain. Art lovers, on the other hand, will enjoy what Illa das Esculturas or the Island of Sculptures has to offer. It is a vast open air garden with various works of the Spain’s famous sculptures integrated into the lush setting. If you are more interested in traditional shopping, head to the scenic farmer’s market along the river bank and get a taste of the local flavor from the various products on display.
Of course, no Pontevedra excursion is complete without visiting the province’s stunning beaches. Head to the lower bays of Galicia – known as Rias Baixas – to soak up the sun. The beaches in the area offer fine white sand and calm crystalline waters. Some of the most popular are La playa de Melide, La playa de Lapaman and La playa de America. Unfortunately, these spots easily get busy during peak season. If you want to escape the crowd and enjoy a bit of solitude, head to Arnelas and bask in the lovely expanse of powdery white sand and cerulean waters with the bonus fewer tourists to share it with.