If, when you travel, you like to discover the best historic sites of the places you visit, we have prepared a list for you of the most notable points along the Rias Baixas.
This well-known area of Galicia stands out for its enormous historic, cultural and natural heritage. So, pack your rucksack and take note of these spectacular places. We promise you’ll love them.
Baiona is a small fishing town which is located on the Atlantic coast, half an hour from the city of Vigo. Its historic quarter was declared a site of national artistic and historical interest (Conjunto Histórico-Artístico) in 1993. In a circular shape, it consists of a series of cobbled streets that lead to numerous stately homes like the Pazo de los Correa manor house or various religious buildings like the Colegiata de Santa Maria church.
Next to the historic quarter, on mount Boi, we can find the Monterreal Castle, a beautiful building built in the 12th century which consists of a large walled fortress and spectacular gardens that you can stroll around. The mountain is surrounded by stunning beaches where you can relax and, at one of the piers, you will find the boat-museum of the Pinta caravel ship, which reminds visitors and locals that the port of Baiona was the first in Spain, and Europe, to receive news of the discovery of America.
Tui is a town situated on the shores of the Miño river. Its historic quarter consists of a unique example of a Medieval city organised around its spectacular cathedral-fortress of Romanesque origin, which is home to a small museum that preserves the only examples of sambenitos that exist in Spain, as well as other historical items. In the vicinity, there are a mixture of small narrow and cobbled streets which lead to various places of great patrimonial value, such as the As Encerradas convent, San Domingo church, San Telmo chapel, and other buildings that reveal the Jewish presence in the town, such as the courtyard of the synagogue or the house of Solomon.
In addition to the historic quarter, the riverside walk is also a highlight, it is from here that you can see the remains of the ancient wall. There is also the ancient international bridge, used by many pilgrims that take the route along the Portuguese Way.
Combarro is a fishing town situated on the Pontevedra ria which was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (Bien de Interés Cultural) thanks to its ancient area which is very well preserved to this day. Its urban structure dates back to the 18th century and consists of a network of cobbled streets and charming small squares. On the edge of the ria, you will be able to see small fishing houses with beautiful balconies inspired by the Galician manor houses. Its 20 granaries, situated in the town’s coastal area, and its calvary stone crosses (cruceiros) are the most popular parts of the town. An interesting fact is that some of the alleyways lead out into the sea, which enabled the fishermen to disembark more easily.
Cambados is a small town in Pontevedra which is very famous for being the Albariño capital. But, as well as its numerous vineyards, it boasts one of the most beautiful and interesting town centres in the area. The most interesting attraction for tourists is the famous Plaza de Fefiñáns, a cobbled square which is surrounded by a group of buildings dating back to the 16th century, like the palace of the same name or San Benito church. From there, you can stroll around all of its streets and discover numerous manor houses and ancient buildings that have been perfectly preserved.
In Cambados , we can find the Bazán Galician manor house, with its spectacular landscaped areas which is currently a State-owned Hotel, or ‘Parador Nacional’. We also recommend you visit Santa Mariña Dozo church and the port area, where you will be able to visit the House-Museum of Ramón Cabanillas and other fisherman-style houses.
The Royal Monastery of Oia is an ancient Cistercian monastery situated in Santa María de Oia, a town on the road that joins A Guarda with Baiona. Its location, on the shores of the Atlantic sea, made this a strategic point to defend the coast from potential attacks. In fact, in 1624, the monks were able to prevent an attack from a Turkish fleet. This caused King Felipe IV to award the monastery the title of “Royal” (Real). This place belonged to the church until the Spanish Confiscation in 1835. Currently, it forms part of the assets of cultural interest, and is one of the best historic sites in Rias Baixas.
Folón and Picón Windmills
Not all of the historic sites form part of the cities and towns of Galicia. Many of them are located in countryside or mountain areas, which is the case with the Folón and Picón windmills.
This historic site consists of a group of 60 windmills arranged in the form of a waterfall, situated in the area of O Rosal (Baixo Miño), which were documented as far back as the 18th century. These windmills form part of the community’s ethnographic heritage, which is why they were declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (Bienes de Interés Cultural) by the Galician Government.
There is a hiking route that takes you to the area where these windmills are located and which, in addition, offer you beautiful views of Mount Santa Tecla and the Miño river.
We hope this list encourages you to take a trip to this part of Galicia, so you can visit the best historic sites of the Rias Baixas. And if you are heading to Vigo or Cangas, remember that, with the Naviera Mar de Ons maritime company, you will be able to combine equally interesting trips of the area with great historic and cultural importance, including the islands of the National Park: Cíes Islands and the Island of Ons, Island of Tambo or the Island of San Simón.