Strolling around the round constructions in Santa Trega Hill (A Guarda), where the Miño River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, is a spiritual experience that takes you 2,000 years back in time. You would get a similar feeling after visiting the old castro (pre-Roman hillfort) in O Facho Hill, in the town of Cangas, which offers spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean with the Cíes Islands on the background. The Rock Art Archaeological Park in Campo Lameiro, which comprises the largest number of open-air rock carvings in Europe, seems to be surrounded by an aura of mystery. Forests, cascades, pools, islands, castles… You can find magical places all over the province of Pontevedra. These are some of them:
Very close to an idyllic beach, you can find a set of petroglyphs on a hill with a millenary secret. The meaning of the labyrinths of Mogor, whose shape is similar to others found in Lapland, Finland, Iceland and England, is still uncertain 4,500 years after being carved in stone. The archaeological site is located in an ideal spot boasting three blue-flagged beaches: Mogor, Portocelo and Aguete. This is a magical place for its symbols and landscape.
Cíes Islands (Vigo)
The gem of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands is a place full of legends. According to one of them, Julius Caesar landed on the island in chase of the Herminian people. In the Middle Ages, the island was inhabited by monks belonging to different religious orders. Later, in the 17th century, the pirate Francis Drake, commander of the English Army, used the island as a base for his repeated raids into mainland. Treasure hunters would later explore the sea near the coast in search of the galleon Santo Cristo de Maracaibo, which sank with a hidden treasure during the Battle of Vigo Bay, in 1702.
Legendary characters are said to dwell in the woods of As Rías Baixas. On moonlit night, the Galician meigas (Galician word for witches) come together, and, at midnight, the procession of souls that are in torment, popularly known as Santa Compaña, wander along the paths wearing their white cloaks. The province of Pontevedra also boasts outstanding natural spots, where the rivers flow smoothly through the stones, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and evoking extraordinary stories. The trail that goes from the Toxa River to the majestic Monastery of San Lourenzo de Carboeiro; the area by the rivers Tea and Alén, in the region of O Condado-A Paradanta; and the woods of Terra de Montes are some of the fairy-tale landscapes with an aura of magic.
Santa Trega (A Guarda)
The Celtic Hillfort of Santa Trega is an archaeological wonder located in a privileged location with views over the mouth of the Miño River. In 1913, the first pieces were discovered, and later, in subsequent excavations, many more were found, dating from the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD. There, visitors can learn more about the history of the castro with a visit to the MASAT (Archaeological Museum of Santa Trega), located on the top of the hill. From there, the views over the mouth of the Miño River, the Atlantic Ocean and the neighbouring Portuguese coastline are impressive and have been enjoyed by visitors from all over the world.
The Rock Art Archaeological Park in Campo Lameiro, an inland town of the province, is a must-visit for any enthusiast of petroglyphs. This area comprises the largest number of open-air rock engravings in Europe. In addition, there you can visit a model of a hillfort. This park also has an interpretation centre, which shows how it was the lifestyle and traditions of the Galician people several thousand years ago by means of panels, screens and models of old constructions as well as old stones found during the excavations, such as slivers, knives or arrowheads.
A Lanzada (Sanxenxo)
This area boasts a heavenly blue-flagged beach located in the isthmus that connects the towns of O Grove and Sanxenxo, a beautiful shrine, an archaeological site and a long stretch of sand in a shell shape. There, during Saint John’s Eve and on the last Saturday of August a fertility rite is performed. All these features make this a magical place to be visited and enjoyed.
On a hill, at the bottom of the inlet Ría de Vigo, there is a legendary fortress built inland almost a thousand years ago to protect the mainland from invasions by sea. Today, the castle, which has been completely restored and hosts a new museum, is living a new period of splendour. In the past, Soutomaior used to be the setting for the adventures of the mysterious Pedro Madruga, a nobleman who ruled these lands in the 15th century and fought against the Galician peasants, known as Irmandiños, and the clergy. There are studies that support the theory that he was Christopher Columbus. If you want to discover the secrets of the castle, a good option is to visit its museum and stroll through its beautiful 19th century garden. Inside the walls, as legend has it, there is a ghost called "El Alemanote", whose existence was revealed by the writer María Vinyals, another great historical figure who lived in the castle.
Cascades and pools
It is said that every Saint John's Eve a Moorish woman brushes her long hair with a golden brush in the Poza da Moura (Moaña). According to legend, in this pool, her father killed the peasant she was in love with. After finding out, she was devastated, and would drown at the foot of the waterfall. The cascades in As Rías Baixas are beautiful and magical places. The most remarkable examples are Toxa (Silleda), the highest cascade in Galicia, with a 40-metre free-leap; Segade (Caldas de Reis); or the Barosa River cascade, located in a nature park with beautiful restored watermills.
O Facho (Cangas)
This hill, located in the place of Donón, enjoys outstanding panoramic views of the Cíes Islands and the cliffs of Costa da Vela and Cabo Home. In addition, there you can find part of the walls, the moat, and the stone remains of the houses of a Celtic hillfort dating from the 6th century BC. Later, this settlement was turned into a sanctuary to honour the Galician god Borobreo.
Mámoas and dolmens
Funerary monuments are scattered all over the province of Pontevedra, as the material evidence of the worship of the dead in former times. In Moraña, you can visit the mámoas (burial mounds) of Pallota, Paraños, Petouto, Santa Lucía, Querguizo, Monte Laceira, O Deitadeiro, and Monte Ardegán. Other mámoas are found in the towns of Redondela, Cuntis, Cotobade, Poio, Vilaboa, Marín or Sillleda. The dolmen Chan da Arquiña (Moaña) is another magical monument, very close to the natural park of Castiñeiras, having a lake. The trail of the dolmens in the municipality of Mos, with more than 15 megalithic constructions, boasts good examples of these millenary monuments.
A Cabeciña (Oia)
The Magical Route of Oia is a 20-km trail combining nature, outstanding views and interesting archaeological remains. The site of A Cabeciña is its main attraction, including a hillfort and a set of interesting petroglyphs. Apart from the already mentioned petroglyphs of Oia, Mogor and Campo Lameiro, there are more mysterious carvings in other towns of the province. It is worth mentioning those of Casa da Rapadoira (Pazos de Borbén); Os Ballotes (Vilagarcía de Arousa); Pedra das Tixolas (Catoira); Pedra das Ferraduras (Cotobade); Chan de Deus, Gargantáns and Ardegán (Moraña); A Ran and Cequeril (Cuntis); Forzáns and Xustáns (Ponte Caldelas); Laxe das Lebres de San Salvador and Montecelo de San Salvador (Poio). Other examples of rock art can be visited in Castro Loureiro (Barro); Monte Tetón (Tomiño); and Pé da Mula (Mondariz), all of them located in magical places of As Rias Baixas.