Religious and spiritual symbols
The province of Pontevedra boasts a rich religious heritage. Throughout the province of Pontevedra, you can find beautiful churches, majestic monasteries, convents, sanctuaries and other places of retreat filled with spirituality. Among them, great temples and other places of worship stand out for their history, symbolism or singularity, and form part of the identity of As Rías Baixas.
Cathedral of Santa María de Tui
The town of Tui, by the Miño River, is full of history. A stroll around the old town will take you back to its most glorious past. The gem of the town is the Cathedral of Tui, whose construction was began after the Saracen and Norman invasions, in the 12th century. At that time, the town was, once again, the Episcopal See, and the bishops, supported by the nobility, promoted the construction of the temple.
The cathedral was built in the Romanesque style, as it can be appreciated in its floor plan, outdoor walls, north façade and capitals with beautiful motifs. The main façade, the first Gothic one in the Iberian Peninsula, presents different scenes depicting the birth of Christ on its tympanum. The reliquary altar of the Chapel of Reliquaries, the Cathedral Museum and its wonderful cloister, which is the only Gothic cloister that can still be seen in a Galician cathedral, stand out. It is also worth visiting the Soutomaior Tower, which offers wonderful panoramic views.
A Peregrina (Pontevedra)
The sanctuary of A Peregrina is an emblematic religious temple, whose significance goes beyond Catholic faith and borders. Its most characteristic feature is its floor plan, in the shape of a scallop shell. It is the essence of Pontevedra together with its square, which is the hub of the activity of this town. It is a must stop for pilgrims from all around the world on their Way to Santiago de Compostela, and a meeting point for hundreds of neighbours of this town, famous for its pedestrian urban model.
A Peregrina, whose construction started in 1778, was declared Historic and Artistic Monument in 1982. It combines the Baroque style with neoclassical elements, as its main altarpiece, erected in 1789.
According to legend, this building was dedicated to the Virgin who guided pilgrims from Baiona to Santiago de Compostela. Today, A Peregrina is the patron saint of the province. Inside the sanctuary, one can see a mollusc shell - brought by the Spanish military naval officer Méndez Núñez from the Pacific Ocean - which serves as a font.
Co-Cathedral of Vigo
This majestic temple, located in the lower part of the old town and close to the square Praza da Pedra and the sea, is popularly known as A Colegiata. It houses the most important religious symbol of Vigo, the image of the Cristo da Vitoria.
Its construction began in 1811 following the design of the architect Melchor de Prado y Mariño, and it is considered one of the best examples of Galician neoclassical architecture. It has a basilica floor plan and is divided into three naves: the central one is higher than the side ones, which are separated by twelve Doric columns.
The main façade is simply decorated, with a clear and symmetrical composition. The central part ends in a wide cornice adorned with modillions and straight profiles and it is crowned by a triangular pediment. The Sundial, made by the sculptor Juan Agustín Domínguez, was placed in 1837 on the right side of the façade.
Basilica of Santa María la Mayor
In the town of Pontevedra, you can find one of the masterpieces of the Galician Gothic architecture, the majestic Basilica of Santa María la Mayor, a symbol of power of the Guild of Merchants in the Medieval period, and today, one of the main attractions of the town.
The building consists of three naves with a ribbed vault. It is worth seeing the high altar, depicting an image of the Assumption of the Virgin surrounded by angels and apostles. The façade is a stone altarpiece, created by Cornielles de Holanda and Joâo Nobre. It combines the Portuguese late Gothic and Plateresque styles, and contains abundant iconography and even a sculpture of Cristopher Columbus.
In the side chapels, the altars of Saint Rita, the Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Anthony stand out. Outside, by the side entrance, there is a sculpture of the Cristo da Boa Viaxe, patron saint of the Guild of Merchants, to whom sailors used to pray in the early hours of the morning before going out to sea. The Bell Tower has a staircase with more than 100 steps ending up in a museum and a vantage point with views over the old town and the Ría (coastal inlet) de Pontevedra.
Templo Votivo do Mar, Nigrán
In the coastal town of Panxón, in Nigrán, there is a majestic temple designed by the renowned architect Antonio Palacios, born in O Porriño and author of important works of architecture in Madrid, with examples such as the Palacio de Comunicaciones or the Círculo de Bellas Artes.
The Templo Votivo de Panxón, built between 1932 and 1937 to honour the Lady of Mount Carmel, combines varied and different styles. It was built in a regional style with Gothic traits using bare stone, and also has Islamic influences, as it can be seen in the interior crossed-arch dome with Byzantine polychrome and Neo-mudejar motifs.
Chapel of the Conchas, in A Toxa, O Grove
This chapel in A Illa da Toxa (O Grove), which dates back to the 12th century, was restored in the 19th century. It stands out because its facing is decorated with natural scallop shells. It is the only one in Galicia with this special feature, which is not aesthetic, but functional, since shells were used in constructions close to the sea to prevent moisture.
This shrine has a Latin cross plan. It used to be devoted to Saint Sebastian, but now its patron saint is the Lady of Mount Carmel, following the restoration of her image. This island is famous for its medicinal waters and for being an important thermal centre. Thus, San Caralampio, martyr in the 3rd century and patron of skin diseases, is also honoured there.
Church of Saint Thomas Becket, Caldas de Reis
The only church devoted to Saint Thomas Becket, who was Archbishop of Canterbury and great councillor of England, is found in the town of Caldas de Reis, a spa town on the Way of Saint James. Thomas Becket stopped in this town on his pilgrimage to Santiago. The church was built in the late 19th century using stones from Queen Urraca’s medieval tower, where her son King Alphonse VII of Castile and Leon had been born.