Pontevedra is a destination that exudes tradition, history and culture on all four sides. It is one of those destinations where the charm resides in each monument, in each street and in each of its squares. This means that you don’t have to wait to be in front of the Sanctuary of La Peregrina or the Basilica of Santa María la Mayor to be fascinated by its beauty. The capital of the Rías Baixas is beautiful in every little corner, and undoubtedly its squares deserve a special mention.
Formerly the square of bread and milk, Teucro Square honours the legend that says that this hero was the founder of the city, after arriving on its shores after the Trojan War. The Renaissance elite of the city promulgated this myth to ennoble and give prestige to the town. The Teucro Square was the most noble square of the city, and even today it preserves part of the noble houses that surrounded it in the XVII and XVIII centuries, as well as housing a great heraldic wealth, proof of this, the house of the Gago and Montenegro family, one of the jewels of the Galician civil baroque.
At the end of the square, in Calle Real, stands the pazo of the Marquis of Aranda and Guimarey, whose coat of arms is the only one in the city with two figures on either side. This square was also the site of the great pazo of the Counts of San Román, one of the largest in the city with an imposing inner courtyard.
Méndez Núñez Square
The square of Méndez Núñez was formerly known as the square of the hens or the grass. Casto Méndez Núñez was a counter admiral who lived and died in Pontevedra, specifically in the house of the arch that presides over the square and whose origin dates back to the 15th century and the Cruu lineage. The history of this character is not only linked to the frigate Numancia but also to the Pacific War between Peru and Chile against Spain. Méndez Núñez was known as the hero of El Callao for his great contribution to the Pacific Campaign and after his death his remains were transferred in 1883 to the Pantheon of Illustrious Sailors of San Fernando, in Cadiz.
Later, on the initiative of Jesús Muruais, this house housed an important private library at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, with more than four thousand volumes, newspapers and magazines. This library had the largest collection of French literature in Galicia and became a showcase for the latest artistic and literary trends. Also famous were the gatherings in which Ramón María del Valle-Inclán participated, a great friend of Jesús Muruáis to whom he dedicated his second work. Because of its relation with this place, a sculpture of Valle-Inclán, installed in 2003 and work of the sculptor César Lombera, is located in the square.
Arch in Méndez Núñez Square
The Square of the Vegetable
The Square of the Vegetable, whose name was formerly Feira Vella (Old Fair), is part of the second extension of the wall built in the 14th century. It was the site of all kinds of markets throughout its existence, until it was consolidated as the site of the daily vegetable market.
In the square is the Casa de la Luz, in 1988 a thermal power station with a large brick chimney for the transformation of thermal energy into electricity, as Pontevedra was the first Galician city, and one of the first in Spain, with electric light. At the other end of the square is one of the four 19th century iron fountains that the architect Sesmero commissioned for the city and which represent Pontevedra’s first water supply. Another of the jewels of this square is the pharmacy of Enrique Eiras, inaugurated in 1876, which houses on its ceiling an imposing painting of a half-naked woman accompanied by a group of angels and floral motifs and where you can read “Ars cum natura ad salutem conspirans” (Art collaborating with nature for health).
Atmosphere in The Square of the Vegetable
Las Cinco Calles Square
In Las Cinco Calles Square, the name given to the intersection of five streets, a plaque indicates the house where Vallé-Inclán lived. In Pontevedra he studied at secondary school and published his first work, Femeninas. However, one of the most striking elements in the square is the cruceiro (stone cross) that presides over it from 1773. The original place of this element of Galician popular architecture was Estribela, but due to its deterioration, and after its acquisition and restoration by the Museum of Pontevedra in the 60s, it was placed in this location.
In the lower part we can see the figures of Adam and Eve taking the fruit from the Tree, while on one side we can see the serpent. On the other side there are two souls from Purgatory in a praying position and symbols of the Passion of Christ, above, the images of St. Anthony with the Child and St. Andrew. The cross has, on one side, the image of Christ with his head fallen and St. Francis collecting his blood and, on the other side, the image of the Virgin of Socorro crowned by two angels.
The cruceiro (stone cross) of Las Cinco Calles Square
Mugartegui or Pedreira Square
Popularly known as Pedreira square, this fact is due to the last denomination carried out because of the stone works that the stonemasons developed here. The arch that gives access to the square , was part of the Pazo of the Mariño de Lobeira family from the 16th century. The square is presided over by the Pazo of Mugartegui built in the XVII-XVIII centuries by the Valladares family, a great example of baroque civil architecture in which the coat of arms stands out. This was a cause of dispute because when the coat of arms was installed in 1773, the owner of the Pazo was denounced by the procurators of Pontevedra who wanted it to be removed because they questioned the right of the owner of the Pazo to bear the arms. Manuel Valladares had to provide documentary proof of his nobility in order to keep his coat of arms. Later the pazo would pass into the hands of the Mugartegui family.
Throughout the 20th century, one part of the building was used for family stays and the other for a teaching academy. In 1955 the owners stopped spending their summer holidays in Pontevedra and the building was used exclusively for educational purposes and was renamed Jovellanos Academy. After its abandonment it was acquired by the City Council of Pontevedra in 2001 and nowadays it is the headquarters of the Regulatory Council of the D.O. Rías Baixas.
Pazo of Mugartegui
Plaza de la Herrería / Herrería Square
The Plaza de la Herrería, one of the most emblematic squares in the city, is a space that is actually made up of four squares. In addition to the Plaza de la Herrería, there is the Plaza de la Estrella, the Plaza de Ourense and the Casto Sampedro gardens.
As its name indicates, the blacksmiths who had their workshops in the arcades worked in the Herrería Sqaure. The square has been used for many purposes throughout history, including as a bullring in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although the houses and buildings have been transformed, two large modernist buildings from the beginning of the 20th century stand out.
In the space occupied by the Plaza de la Estrella, the Casa de las Caras is striking, which was formerly the pazo of the Barbeiro de Padrón, with four 16th century busts that decorate the facade.
Finally, in this square you’ll find Casto Sampedro Gardens, dedicated to one of the founders of the archaeological society of Pontevedra and a great defender of the cultural heritage of the city and the province as a whole. The fountain that features inside them, from the 16th century, which is mentioned in a traditional song “Pontevedra é boa vila,dá de beber a quen pasa, a fonte da Ferrería,San Bartolomeu na praza”, crowns the gardens next to the San Francisco Church.
Plaza de la Herrería / Herrería Square with the letters “Boa Vila”