Cities of Galicia; discover its historical helmets
One of the most important tourist resources in Galicia is the cultural, artistic and monumental wealth of the historic centers of the seven great cities of Galicia: Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, Pontevedra, Ferrol and Vigo; each one different and all charming.
Recovery efforts have made possible the enhancement of tourism in the old areas of their cities, in which all architectural styles are mixed and in which one of their main attractions is their own inhabitants.
A Coruña, with 250,000 inhabitants, is the second most populated city in Galicia. Already known by the Romans as Brigantia, they erected the symbolic lighthouse of the city: the Tower of Hercules, the oldest working lighthouse in the world.
A tour of the old part of the city can start from the Plaza del Obelisco, in the center, where you can observe the bustling Herculine life when strolling through the Real and Rego de Auga streets, the most traditional streets linked to commerce, which lead to the majestic Plaza de María Pita, where you can see the beautiful Modernist-style Town Hall.
From this square one can immerse oneself in the Old City, to soak up the most unique history of A Coruña, since the origin of this city is precisely in this area. Here you can visit the church of Santiago, Romanesque from the 12th century, although it has pointed elements from the 14th and 15th centuries; the evocative Plaza de Azcárraga; the collegiate church of Santa María, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, very close to the Museum of Sacred Art; or the square and convent of Santa Bárbara, which form a set of singular beauty.
Before leaving the Old City, the traveler should approach the San Carlos Garden, next to the Military Museum and the Luís Seoane Foundation, a very pleasant romantic park nestled in an old defense bastion that houses the tomb of General Moore, who died in the battle of Elviña during the French invasion. The visit is completed with a walk along Avenida de A Mariña and its characteristic gallery buildings.
Ferrol is a perfect opportunity to get to know an 18th century city that is different from the rest of the Galician cities. It is a fishing and industrial city, cradle of important sailors and soldiers. The sea is the soul of the city that lives in symbiosis with it. It was born as a fishing village and over time it became a city with great naval and military potential, all thanks to its natural port, one of the most protected and beautiful in the world. An ideal place for refuge from the raging waters of the Atlantic, it is accessed between the surveillance of the castles of San Felipe and A Palma.
From the port, near the Cruxeiras pier, drawn up in the mid-18th century, where you can see the characteristics of military engineering of the time, you can access Espiritu Santo streets and Plaza Vella, in which we must highlight the traditional houses, where the galleries stand out, so traditional in Galician cities.
In Ferrol you must visit the Arsenal, an impressive military complex built around 1750, which will give the traveler an idea of the great importance that the Navy had in the construction of the city.
One of the main urban jewels of the city of Ferrol is the A Madalena neighborhood, built according to the plans approved by Carlos III in 1761, with a totally quadrangular morphology, only interrupted by the Amboaxe and Armas squares.
Santiago de Compostela
The showcase of Galicia. Capital of the Community, a city that knows how to combine tradition and modernity. The tradition is evident, both in its cultural legacy, as that of few Spanish cities and that earned it the declaration of World Heritage Site in 1985 by UNESCO, as well as in its connection with the surrounding rural environment, which can still be defined today as the most rural of all Galician cities.
In its old town, the Praza del Obradoiro stands out, surrounded by buildings full of art and history, such as the cathedral, the Hostal de los Reis Católicos, the headquarters of the rector of the University of Santiago and the Town Hall.
With a medieval structure with additions from later times, the old area of Santiago constitutes a network of streets, alleys and squares, dotted with monuments and whose visit is very interesting.
The squares of A Quintana, O Toural, Azabachería, Cervantes and among others, the streets Villar, Rúa Nova, Preguntoiro, Xelmírez stand out…
The Roman heritage of this city is evident from any perspective. The presence of its wall, the only complete Roman wall that is preserved, and a World Heritage Site, has marked the historical evolution of the city and continues to be the axis on which life revolves in Lugo.
The river Miño is linked to the birth of the city and constitutes a fundamental piece in the life of the people of Lugo as a place for walks and leisure.
It is a two-thousand-year-old city founded as a Roman camp in 14 BC. It is the oldest urban settlement in Galicia, since it acted at the time of the Empire as the head of a Roman legal convent, one of the three that made up the province of Gallaecia.
The historic center of Lugo is enclosed in the perimeter of the wall, of 2,140 meters, and in its monumental area the Cathedral, the Episcopal Pazo, the Praza do Campo and different churches stand out. In Lugo you have to visit its Roman baths, the House of mosaics and its Roman bridge, built in the 1st century BC.
Ourense was born as a city of gold and water. That is how the Romans called it, founders of the primitive settlement which they described as Aquae Aurente, from which the current place name derives. But it is also a crossroads, where the river Miño defines the landscape of a city that is located between coastal Galicia and interior Spain and that has always sought to project itself abroad.
The old town of Ourense is one of the largest of the cities in Galicia and has recently benefited from an extensive program of rehabilitation of spaces and buildings.
The life of this city unfolds in its ancient and monumental part, with hardly any transition to the more modern areas of the city. It is perhaps the most bustling old town in Galicia, where you will find gems such as the thermal springs of As Burgas, the Cathedral, the Maior, do Trigo, Alameda del Concejo and do Ferro squares; and the Posío gardens.
Pontevedra is the city that opens the interior of its province to the sea. It is a crossroads in a privileged and strategic place. In the last meander of the Lérez river before opening to the estuary. This location gave rise to its origin, Roman, at the foot of a bridge that crossed a road that connected Braga, Lugo and Pontevedra. The mythical tradition, on the other hand, says that it was founded by the Greek hero Teucro, a participant in the Trojan War.
The old town of the city of Pontevedra is considered the second most interesting in Galicia, after Santiago de Compostela.
Fully integrated into the city, and the object of an extensive rehabilitation and humanization program, it is practically pedestrianized in its entirety.
The historic center of Pontevedra treasures national monuments such as the Basilica of Santa María la Mayor or religious buildings such as the Chapel of Apparitions, the Convent of Santa Clara, the Church of La Peregrina, the ruins of Santo Domingo and the Church of San Francisco.
The historic center of Pontevedra is the best example to understand the traditional urban structure of Galicia, which can be seen in its streets and squares such as La Ferrería, Teucro, la Leña, la Verdura, Mugartegui or Méndez Núñez.
A city linked to the sea. The sea marked its appearance, its history and its economy. It is a cosmopolitan city like few others, the most populous in Galicia. With an entrepreneurial spirit, with a great social life, in which trends of cultural and social renewal often emerge that later spread to the whole of Galicia.
The existence of Vigo as a city is recent, because even well into the 19th century it was one of the many sea ports that settled in the estuaries, but its origin dates back much further, since the municipality has in its mountainous limits more than thirty megalithic monuments.
Its old town is small, but very attractive, and is in the process of being restored. The district of El Berbés stands out, a tiered group of old fishermen’s and artisans’ houses, and narrow streets that descend from the center of the city towards the sea. In this environment, the A Pedra market stands out.
In its urban environment, Vigo preserves important historical places of great beauty such as the mountains of o Castro and A Guía, authentic viewpoints over the city.
Outside the cities, Galicia preserves attractive historic centers in its villages of which they are good examples, Allariz, Baiona, Betanzos, Cambados, Cangas, Castro Caldelas, Celanova, Combarro-Poio, Corcubión, Mondoñedo, Monforte de Lemos, Muros, Noia , Ortigueira, Padrón, Pazos de Arenteiro-Boborás, A Pobra de Trives, A Pobra do Caramiñal, Pontedeume, Portomarín, Ribadavia, Ribadeo, Sarria, Tui, Vilagarcía de Arousa, Vilalba and Viveiro.
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