Combarro: the smallest "historical centre" in Galicia
Combarro parish is located about six kilometers away from Pontevedra, in the municipality of Poio. The mark of the sea can be seen in any of the characteristic elements of the civil and religious architecture of this small architectural complex.
Starting in Chousa Square, with views of the coast of Poio and Tambo Island, we head to the old village. This village was built on granite; in fact some houses are grounded on this material, which was used when the village was built.
The three key elements that can be observed are:
Cruceiros (stone crosses): according to anthropological studies there was a pre-Christian cult which is also shared with the Celtic regions of Brittany and Ireland. These crosses protected the crossroads, where it was believed that witches' meetings were held, thus becoming safe places. The cruceiros of Combarro have a special characteristic: the carved figure of the Virgin is always looking to the sea, except for the cruceiro next to Padrón Beach, that can only be walked at low tide
San Roque Street leads to the church of the same name, dating from the eighteenth century, having a cruceiro with the figure of San Roque (Saint Roch) with his trusty dog, San Roquiño.
The second distinctive feature of Combarro is the fishermen's houses: at A Rúa Street attached houses can be seen showing the characteristic house layout, with the residence on the top floor and on the bottom floor a lumber room used to store fishing and farming tools. Some of these houses had a distinctive element known as solaina, a Baroque stone balcony ending in a ladder. Seafarers normally used wood or wrought iron to build them, painting them with the same colours of their boats. These balconies were all in front of the sea. Interestingly there is a street called A Rúa Cega ("the blind street" in English), where the houses do not face the sea. This could be because agriculture predominated, and therefore the width of the doors would be adapted so that the carts could go through them.
The third element could be no other than the hórreo, closely associated with Combarro's image. There are about 60 hórreos in the whole village and 30 of them are aligned along the coast.
From Padrón Beach you can see the coastline of Marín, Poio and Combarro, with their perfectly located old warehouses and storerooms, where food was kept: agricultural products, fish and meat. The location near the coast made transportation from the lands on the other side of the estuary easier, unloading the cargo from the sea. The large number of pirates arriving to this coast was constantly attracted by these goods.
Arriving at the port, where fish used to be exchanged and sold, we follow A Rúa, the most commercial street, and go up A Gurita, a granite rock shaped into a staircase. Finally the tour ends in Chousa Square, where we started.
The practical nature of seafarers, seen in their hórreos (raised granaries) and solainas (balconies) supported by narrow columns, is combined with the representations of Galician popular architecture, in the small details of the houses and the mysticism inherited from the ancestors of Celtic and Christian people.