Writing in As Rías Baixas is synonymous with talent and great savoir-faire. Over history, this province has inspired a large number of remarkable writers who wrote the most beautiful words of love, action, adventure, emotion, betrayal and disenchantment. The authors from Pontevedra knew how to combine poetry and prose to create worlds of landscapes, fortresses, monuments and traditional festivities, thus making our rich heritage universal and everlasting.
The musical charm of the Ría de Vigo
In the 13th century, the troubadour Martín Códax sang to the waves of the sea of Vigo, and to the uncertainty of the girl in love longing to reunite with her beloved. He dazzled readers with the suggestive beauty of his verses, and he transported them to a beautiful sea scenery featuring one of the most stunning Galician rías (inlets). Inspired by the strength of the water near the historic San Simón Island and the traditional wealth of Cangas, Mendinho and Xoán de Cangas praised in their poems cantigas de amigo a landscape of idyllic beaches, with the Cíes Islands on the background, and a rich wildlife that leaves unforgettable memories to those who visit this area.
Other master writer in the Galician literature is Bernardiño Graña, from the region of O Morrazo. He is a clear and honest narrator who portrays, like no one else in the Galician language, his hometown Cangas, whose people live from the sea and die in the sea.
Linked to the sea of Vigo are the novels of the renowned author Domingo Villar. The main character of his novels, Leo Caldas, has made the beauty of the Ría de Vigo known worldwide. He also describes in his works the stunning natural landscape of Panxón, in Nigrán, an idyllic destination, not to be involved in the crimes Villar describes in his novel, but to spend a summer holiday with your family. Because Vigo and Bueu, in the words of the famous Galician writer Johán Carballeira are an accurate and faithful portrait of “the true and authentic Galicia”, which deserves to be visited and enjoyed.
The mark left by O Salnés
The master of the literary style in Spanish literature known as esperpento, Ramón María del Valle-Inclán , started in his hometown Vilanova de Arousa , in the captivating region of O Salnés a life journey through places boasting a rich historical heritage, such as the city of Pontevedra or the town of Cambados. In fact, the streets of this seaside town would mark forever the life and the work of this artist. Other distinguished Galician writer who also used to stroll around the town of Cambados was the committed “poet of the Galician race”, Ramón Cabanillas. He sang to his hometown Cambados, which sleeps “lying in the sun, by the sea”, close to the San Sadurniño Tower, and he also extolted the Albariño wine, “the town’s gold”. Every first weekend of August this town celebrates the Festa do Albariño, declared Festival of National Tourist Interest.
The brothers Francisco and Julio Camba were two distinguished writers in Spanish Literature characterised by their ingenious and witty texts. Today, one can visit their former house in the island A Illa de Arousa, while admiring the wild beaches surrounded by natural landscapes. In the region of O Salnés, we can also enjoy the beauty of seaside towns such as Sanxenxo, Vilagarcía de Arousa, A Toxa Island and taste the local food, which is a delight for the senses. In the scathing words of Julio Camba this food is “for the middle class or, better yet, for the alternate class that spends months of deprivation and weeks or days of opulence”.
Settings of literary battles
According to the words of the committed feminist writer María Vinyals, the province of Pontvedra is “the garden of Spain, a beautiful paradise in Galicia", and it was also a source of inspiration for her. She was one of the owners of the Soutomaior Castle, which now belongs to the fortified heritage of Pontevedra. Today, this fortress still preserves the essence of a romantic world of battles and struggle for equality, with towers and hillforts that enhance the beauty of the landscape. Today, the writer has a room in the new museum of the castle, boasting interactive devices and educational activities that will delight all visitors.
Xosé Neira Vilas, surely inspired by his inland hometown Vila de Cruces, wrote the novel Memoirs of a peasant boy, a rich insight into the life and vicissitudes of the determined peasant boy Balbino. Today, Vila de Cruces is popular for its thermal offer. Fina Casalderrey is one of Galicia’s most successful writers of children’s fiction, born in the village of Xeve, in the city of Pontevedra. She has been always linked to this city, and her stories include valuable elements of the ethnography of Pontevedra: cuisine, traditional constructions, popular festivals, games, songs, proverbs, legends…
Water as a source for inspiration
The journalist and poet Roberto Blanco Torres was “an activist of the plain and critical writing”. He was born in Cuntis, a thermal destination since the early 19th century. The inland town of Valga was the birthplace of the historian and researcher Xesús Ferro Couselo. For his part, the poet Fermín Bouza Brey, born in Ponteareas, praised the beauty of the Galician landscape. An example of this are the verses he devoted to the greatest of the Galician rías: “Ría de Arousa, grávida de côres, serêa dos atlânticos amores que acarinhache a minha infância ingela” (“Ría de Arousa, colourful, mermaid of Atlantic loves, you took care of me throughout my simple childhood”).
Tui , the old medieval town that used to be one of the seven provinces of the Old Kingdom of Galicia, is the hometown of the great bibliophile and poet Manuel Lago González. The multitalented writer and researcher Xosé María Álvarez Blázquez was also from Tui. He was a renowned poet, reformer of the publishing sector, official chronicler of Vigo, the most important industrial city in Galicia, and writer of collective tales.
Pontevedra, an inspiring model city
Juan Manuel Pintos, from the city of Pontevedra, was along with Curros Enríquez, Eduardo Pondal and Rosalía de Castro the driving force behind the period of revitalization of the Galician language, known as Rexurdimento, after the so-called séculos escuros (dark centuries), in which the dominance of Castilian Spanish was nearly complete. The first significant published prose fiction in Galician was Maxina ou a filla espúrea, by Marcial Valladares Núñez from the town of A Estrada. José Filgueira Valverde, known as "the old professor", well-known for his commitment in favour of the Galician language and culture, was from Pontevedra, an international model for other cities for its quality, mobility and accessibility. In 1927, Valverde founded the Museum of Pontevedra, which comprises six historic buildings boasting important collections of sculpture, painting, ceramics, archaeology, and other important pieces of art that are part of the history of the province.
Pontevedra was also the hometown of the avant-garde poet Luis Amado Carballo, who was also emotionally linked to another beautiful seaside town in the province, Bueu, with beautiful beaches and a rich ethnographic heritage. Today, a large number of promising authors from the province of Pontevedra such as Manuel Jabois, Fran Alonso, Iolanda Zúñiga, Manuel Loureiro or Francisco Castro will surely produce many talented works inspired by the heritage of the province of Pontevedra.