If you visit Galicia’s Rias Baixas, you will discover a mass of unique landscapes that you will fall in love with. One of them is the Vigo ria, in the south of Pontevedra. A beautiful place surrounded by nature, charming towns and stunning beaches. In today’s article, we tell you some fascinating facts about the area that perhaps you didn’t know before.
The deepest ria
Vigo ria is situated to the south of Pontevedra and is the southern-most ria of the Rias Baixas, and the deepest. Its coast stretches 35km from Cabo Silleiro to Arcade, where its deepest point can be found.
One of the most surprising fascinating facts about the Vigo ria is its great biodiversity. Its waters are permeated with cold sea currents coming from the north that carry a large quantity of nutrients, contributing to its huge biological wealth.
This has always been an area for fishing and shellfish farming, although this activity has decreased in recent years thanks to the human and industrial activities in the area.
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are a great example of the rich biodiversity in the Vigo ria. These dolphins live in the Rías Baixas all year round, it is estimated that there are around 600 of them. It is common to spot them, especially in summer, in the Vigo ria, swimming among the boats that sail to Cíes and the mussel farms.
The Vigo ria is one of the best places for farming mussels. From its coasts and Rande bridge, you can admire the dozens of mussel farms that are floating on the surface and dedicated to farming this mollusc. So that visitors can appreciate the great taste and excellent quality of this product, different tours are organised in summer where tourists can see the mussel farms, find out how they work and try them onboard. If you are travelling as a group, check availability by writing to email@example.com .
On these farms they also farm oysters, an exquisite delicacy offered in several of the ria’s towns, but in Arcade in particular. This town has various oyster and seafood restaurants offering delicious oysters that do justice to their international fame.
Galicia’s best beaches
One of Galicia’s best beaches stretches along the coast of the Vigo ria. In Cangas, you can find the beaches of Barra and Nerga, the beaches of Samil and O Vao are in Vigo, Playa América is located in Nigrán and on the Cíes Islands you can find what was proclaimed the best beach in the world: Rodas beach.
The Rande bridge has joined both sides of the Vigo ria for more than 40 years. This bridge was designed by Italian engineer Fabrizio de Miranda, built in 1978 and opened four years later. At this time, it was one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, at 1558 metres in length, and one of the most innovative constructions of that time.
Nowadays it is one of the busiest bridges of the Pontevedra province and is part of the Vigo – A Coruña section of the Atlantic motorway.
14 sunken ships
In the depths of the waters of the Vigo ria are the remains of 14 ships that sunk in a battle dating back to 1702. The battle took place between the Spanish-French and the Anglo-Dutch troops during the War of the Spanish Succession against the Crown of Castile. According to history, when the Spanish ships reached the ria to shelter, they were attacked by English vessels and ended up at the bottom of the water. As the remains of these ships were full of silver, gold and diamonds, for years, people have come to search for these treasures that are immersed in the Vigo ria’s waters.
Jules Verne wrote about it
The story of the sunken Spanish ships on the ria is internationally renowned. Someone who knew this story was writer, Jules Verne, who had lived in the city of Vigo on several occasions. That’s why this fact about the Vigo ria ended up in one of his best-known books “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”. In one of its chapters, the protagonist of this great story, Captain Nemo, sails on the Nautilus to the ria to obtain gold before continuing his underwater journey.
Pirates sailed its waters
An island called San Simón can be found on the Vigo ria, and it has changed hands several times throughout history. During the Middle Ages, this island was inhabited by the clergy, who suffered continuous sieges by the much feared pirates. The English pirates raided the island for the first time in 1589 and, during the battle of Rande, the raids happened again, but this time they attacked several of the ria’s towns.
A maritime lazaret
In the mid-19th century, the island of San Simón was used as a maritime lazaret (quarantine station for maritime travellers). A building was built for this purpose to hold the people who arrived by boat with symptoms of any contagious disease that could spread around the area.
The lazaret shut down in 1927, so the island remained closed until the Civil War. At this time it was used as a prison and concentration camp for the prisoners who opposed Franco and was kept open until 1943. Nowadays, the area is uninhabited and can be visited during the day.
Island of San Simón, space dedicated to tourism and culture
In 1999, the Island of San Simón was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest together with the Island of San Antón, to which it is joined via a small bridge. This island welcomes visitors for most of the year, they can walk around and get to know the island and its history via tours organised all year round. Moreover, various cultural activities take place on this island.
The Vigo ria has witnessed numerous historic events that many people aren’t aware of, and which are worth discovering. It is also a very beautiful place with charming towns, stunning beaches and a diverse marine life. Ultimately, a place with charm and full of stories that is worth a visit with Mar de Ons shipping company.