Pontevedra has one of the best preserved historic centres in Galicia. It was also declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1951, and is undoubtedly the witness in stone of the medieval splendour of the city. Here, the cliché that the best way to discover a place is to stroll through its streets, squares and most emblematic places and immerse yourself in its culture, and also in its history, becomes true.
The church of San Francisco
The church of San Francisco, in the Plaza de la Herrería, was built in the 14th century on a plot of land belonging to the Sotomayor family outside the perimeter of the city walls. The chancel is from the 15th century and inside the main altar is the impressive tomb of Paio Gómez Chariño, troubadour and admiral of the sea. Its most outstanding images are that of the Nazarene, from the end of the 18th century, and the murals of the altar of the souls, from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Another of the imposing temples of the city, is the church of San Bartolomé, constituted as by the Jesuits in the beginning, and headquarters from 1836 of the parish in which it is located. The construction is one of the few examples of Italian Baroque inspiration in Galicia. Its façade is crowned by a large coat of arms with the arms of Spain and its interior houses valuable altarpieces and carvings of the Compostela and Castilian schools of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Magdalena Penitente (Penitent Magdalene) from the school of Gregorio Fernández, a sorrowful figure from the school of Pedro de Mena, and a San Antonio Abad by Benito Silveira, an important Galician sculptor from the 18th century, stand out. In the church we also find the image of the Virgen de la O, patron saint of the city, whose feast day is celebrated on December 18th. The annex building, a Jesuit school between 1650 and 1767 and currently integrated in the Museum of Pontevedra, preserves the eighteenth-century cloister and a monumental staircase from 1722.
Convent of Santa Clara
A little further away from the heart of the historic centre, in what was once the area outside the city walls, is the church of Santa Clara, believed to have been founded at the end of the 13th century, and during the 14th and 15th centuries
obtained numerous private donations that increased its patrimony and allowed to expand its work. The convent of which this church forms part was sacked and partly burnt down in the 19th century during the War of Independence. Inside the church, the chancel from the beginning of the 16th century stands out, with mural paintings from the 18th century and the Churrigueresque altarpiece from 1730. On the other hand, the exterior is notable for its Romanesque doorway and Gothic sculpture representing Evangelists, apostles, trumpeter angels and symbols of the Last Judgement, and the cornice corbels with human, animal and geometric representations.
The church and convent of Santa Clara were recently acquired by the Pontevedra City Council. The church was deconsecrated and its images transferred to another temple of the same order in Santiago de Compostela.
Both buildings have become part of the Provincial Museum and are closed for works, only the old church is occasionally used for some cultural activity.