Galicia and its cities: Vigo, Ourense and Pontevedra

Galicia lies in the northwest of Spain, to the North of Portugal and on the Atlantic Ocean coast. It is an Autonomous Region divided into four provinces: A Coruña, Lugo (in the North) and Ourense and Pontevedra (in the South). Galicia is a mountainous and rugged region with vast valleys, forests and meadows and white sandy beaches. The Rías Altas and Rías Bajas have a unique outstanding beauty and are clear references of our region.

Both the Galician Parliament and the Regional Government are in Santiago de Compostela, which is the capital of Galicia. It is a city famous for its cathedral, where the mortal remains of Saint James (Santiago) the Apostle are believed to lie. Santiago is a cultural and spiritual centre of international projection, where thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world come every year. Besides the above, this city is also home to one of the oldest universities in Spain.

In the socio-economic field, Galicia has a strong agricultural tradition and important fishing, canning and automobile industries.

Ourense

It is the capital of the only Galician province with no maritime coastline. The history of Ourense dates back to Roman times due to its strategic location on the banks of the river Miño. The famous Puente Viejo (ancient bridge) was built by the Romans over the Miño river, and is the main reference to the city. Another representative monument is the Cathedral, built towards the end of the 12th century, which houses the Pórtico del Paraíso, a gothic representation similar to the Pórtico de la Gloria in Santiago.

Streets, squares and gardens in Ourense provide a peaceful ambience, and contain beautiful monuments such as the gothic church and the cloister of Saint Francis, the Trinity temples , Saint Eufemia, Saint Mary the Mother, and the old Bishop’s Palace, which houses an archaeological museum.

The Burgas hot springs with a water temperature of 70ºC are worth visiting in Ourense. These waters have always been used for therapeutic, dermatological and anti-rheumatic purposes.

At present, Ourense is a growing city with good communications and services. It’s Technological Park is its principal reference.

The Ourense campus is located on the site of the old hospital, less than 10 minutes distance from the city centre.

Webpages on Ourense: http://www.depourense.es, http://www.ourensenet.com/

Map of Ourense: http://callejero.callejeando.com/Pueblos/pueblo32_1.htm.

Pontevedra

The history of Pontevedra is closely linked to its location at the end of a beautiful ría (bay), where it lies on the banks of the River Lerez estuary. The monuments in the city are a clear reflection of Pontevedra's historical nature: its maritime past, its strategic location, surrounded by fertile soils and its proximity to big monasteries and manor houses. During ancient times, it was a focus for traders and the Galician nobility, who left their mark on local architecture. Some of its most emblematic monuments are part of Galician historical heritage: the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries, the convent of the Order of St. Clare, the churches of Santa María la Mayor and Virgen de la Peregrina, built in the 18th century.

As the capital of the province, Pontevedra houses many central government offices, most of which are located around the Alameda and Paseo de las Palmeras. In this very area, within the city centre, liesthe Faculty of Fine Arts, located in an old renovated military building.

Webpages on Pontevedra: http://www.concellopontevedra.es/

Map of Pontevedra: http://callejero.callejeando.com/Pueblos/pueblo36_1.htm.

Vigo

The city of Vigo is spread along the shores of a 30 km long ría (bay), called Ría de Vigo and just 25 km from Portugal. Due to this strategic location, Vigo was already a trading city in ancient times and is currently one of the principal European ports, with an important industrial infrastructure (shipyards, canning plants, and companies from automobile and granite industries).

But Vigo has much more to offer than just its industry. The old quarters of the city lie within the limits of its ancient ramparts. The lower part is of great tourist interest with its Piedra (stone) market and square, Cesteros (basket maker’s) street, neoclassic Saint Mary’s collegiate church, Constitution square and the O Berbés fishing village. This part of the city contrasts with modern buildings in the rest of Vigo. The city has grown rapidly during recent years and has not only become the nerve centre of Galicia but also the most populated city in this region.

When in the city, you must visit the vantage points at O Castro, A Guía and A Madroa, with beautiful views of the estuary, as well as Castrelos Park − the most beautiful urban park in Galicia, where the local museum Pazo Museo de Quiñones de León, is located. The city has also got the only zoo in the whole of Galicia.

Vigo is especially well known for its white sandy beaches and for the Cíes Islands (15 km from Vigo) − a beautiful nature park, with one of the most important ecosystems along the Galician coastline, and a privileged breeding ground for marine birds.

There is a wide cultural offer in the city. Students at the University of Vigo can get discount tickets from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Office for University Extension, for concerts and theatre performances organized by the Caixanova Cultural Centre. Vigo also has many cinemas, and a few museums and galleries, most of which do not charge entrance fees.

Webpages on Vigo:

http://www.vigo.org/

http://www.vigonet.com

Map of Vigo

http://orueiro.devigo.net/

http://www.callejeando.com/Pueblos/pueblo36_2.htm

For more information on Galicia and its cities, kindly see the following websites:

www.turgalicia.es

www.riasbaixas.org

www.spanish-living.com/files/Galicia/general_info/general_info.htm

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