Once built by the Romans on the banks of the river Minho, the city of gold and water was what we know today as the provincial capital of Ourense. Protagonist of this area of the Sanabrés Way, and blessed by the thermal waters, Ourense is located between the rivers Miño and Barbaña, and enjoys an unusual amount of mineral-medicinal springs.
This important city is considered the commercial and urban enclave between Galicia and the rest of the peninsula, being the third most important city in the autonomous community of Galicia, so the pilgrim will find here absolutely everything you need for your trip.
A little history
The first signs of this locality are the pre-Roman forts and the primitive settlement of As Burgas, at the foot of the thermal spring, until the area was occupied by the Romans, who called it Auriense and built a strategic bridge here. This bridge has accompanied the city throughout history and still maintains its Roman pillars, which have been rebuilt several times throughout history.
What to see and do in Ourense
Cathedral of St. Martin of Tours
Considered as one of the greatest Romanesque temples of the country, the Ourense Cathedral is part of the living history of the city, as well as of the whole diocese. It is the largest monument of the city of gold and water and occupies the center of the historic center. You can discover its Romanesque style with Cistercian and Gothic influences.
Chapel of Os Remedios
Located at the southern end of the Roman Bridge, it forms with it a set declared a national historic-artistic monument. This 16th century sanctuary houses the stone image of the Virgen de los Remedios, and has a simple façade with two coats of arms and is located in a field where duels and challenges, travelling circuses and many other activities took place throughout history.
San Francisco Cemetery
This Gothic cemetery is located on the slopes of Montealegre, and, surrounded by the characteristic vegetation of the place, it gives burial to some of the most illustrious ourensanos of the history, as Eduardo Blanco Amor or Xosé Ramón Fernández Oxea “Benchosey”. This cemetery, honoured with the song “San Francisco Express” by the legendary band “Los Suaves”, became an Asset of Cultural Interest in the year 2000.
This 14th century church was part of the old convent of which only the cloister remains today. It was moved stone by stone to San Lázaro Park, where it stands with the figure of a piper on its façade.
Archaeological Museum of Ourense
Located in the building of the old Pazo Episcopal, in the historical centre and declared a historical monument in 1931, it houses as a permanent exhibition the so-called “Anthology of Sculpture”, and other temporary exhibitions that show a historical-archaeological representation of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, the castreño world and the Galician-Cro-Moorish.
Pazo de Oca Valladares (Lyceum)
Ancient gothic-renaissance manor house, one of the most important in Galicia. Owned by the de Oca family, this pazo dates back to the 16th century, and boasts a two-storey building with five coats of arms of different Galician lineages. This Renaissance jewel of civil architecture was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2002.
Roman Bridge of Ourense
This is perhaps the historical protagonist of the city. Being the historical evolution of the first Roman bridge of the city of gold and water, this bridge underwent renovations since its decline in the twelfth century, until it reached its final model in the seventeenth century with the work of Melchor de Velasco Agüero. Although it has undergone several changes, this magnificent and very old bridge still preserves some parts of the first bridge that was built on this river in Roman times.
Although the city is full of thermal baths, this is the most important one, as it is, perhaps, the oldest and most particular thermal bath in the whole Iberian Peninsula. It is the best way to discover the springs, and its waters at more than 60º have been used for centuries for therapeutic, religious and recreational purposes. These facilities have a 40º swimming pool, public access, changing rooms, lockers and a unique sauna and relaxation complex.
Festivities of Ourense
As it is natural in a big city, the festivities are numerous and varied, but without a doubt we believe that the best date to visit this city is during the Entroido, where the city dresses up to receive the Galician carnival, enjoy its gastronomy and leisure and festive activities. Another ideal time to visit Ourense is during the festival of the Mayos, when the city dresses in flowers to celebrate spring.