First view of Pontevedra you will probably get from a large bridge on the highway. Once in the visiting and entering the old town you have to cross a bridge again. An old Roman bridge this time. Now you know, Pontevedra is the city of bridges.
In the southwest of Galicia the name of Pontevedra is all around. There is the Ría de Pontevedra and the province of Pontevedra, 1 of the 4 provinces of Galicia. The provinces capital is Pontevedra, the city with the same name and that we are talking about on this page.
Where is Pontevedra located?
Pontevedra has about 83.000 inhabitants and is located where the Ria de Pontevedra starts in the southwest of Galicia. The city is located where the ría starts and the river Lerez ends.
It’s not the biggest city of the province, that honor goes to Vigo. The city of Pontevedra is located between Santiago de Compostela and Vigo. When travelling by car between those two cities you’ll meet Pontevedra at half time. And you wont just pass the city. Pontevedra has a marvellous entrance via the highway. From the hills you pass a bridge where you suddenly can see the ría and see the city.
History of Pontevedra
The name Pontevedra origins from Latin and means ‘old bridge’. The oldest archeological discoveries also date back to the Roman era.
In the medieval era and the end of the 20th centry Pontevedra was just a small town. It’s activities where, due to it’s location, mostly around the see, such as fishing and shipbuilding.
There exist a popular theory the Christopher Columbus does not origin from Genoa, but was born in Pontevedra. In the year 2022 there even have been opened old graves to inspect ancient remains to prove this theory.
During the 19th and 20th century the city is just a regular province capital. A lot happens, but not much especial.
At the beginning of the 21st century the city catches momentum again. Historic buildings are renovated, tourism gets more popular and the University of Vigo opens a dependance that attracts students who bring activity to the city.
There is also a big metamorfose in traffic. The city councel turns the city into a ‘city for walkers’
City for walkers
When hearing the term ‘city for walkers’ in Galicia you probably directly think of Santiago de Compostela because of the camino. True, but Pontevedra is really designed for walking. Since 2000 the city’s centre has been completely transformed to give space for pedestrians and bikers. Cars are almost totally removed from the old town, which has greatly improved the quality of life. The aim of the city is to mark all destinations within 3 kilometres as a walking destination. That’s better for the town and better for the people’s health. For this goal a pedestrian metro map was designed, the so-called metrominuto.
Pontevedra is a city of bridges. There are 7 bridges that cross the river Lerez. The following bridges are most interesting:
- A Ponte de Burgo
The old Roman bridge that has given name to the city. This bridge crosses the river Lerez and connects the old town to the other part of the river. Nowadays the bridge is an ideal entrance for pedestrians to cross the river to the old town.
- Puente de los Tirantes
Another bridge that connects the old town, but this time it’s a modenr bridge. Puente de los Tirantes is an impressive suspension bridge. The bridge is constructed in 1995 and was later named as one of the 33 most notable bridges of Spain.
- A ponte das correntes
The most modern bridge of all. Both in design as construction year. The bridge can be used by all type of traffic and has special lanes for bikers and pedestrians. The latter two are even roofed!
- Bridge on the AP-9
The bridge on the highway. This bridge is not located in the city centre. It’s the bridge that lifts the highway from Santigo to Vigo over the river Lerez. Personally this is my favourite. Not because of it’s architecture, but because of the view from the bridge. Every time I moved from Santiago to the south I got the first views of the Rias Baixas and Pontevedra from this bridge. A spectacular entrance of the city!
Things to see in Pontevedra
As with many cities the hart is in the old town. The old town of Pontevedra is free of cars what makes it very friendly. You would almost all it picturesque. There is a friendly and vived athmosphere. Plenty of typical bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the Galician gastronomy.
In the old town you can find several beautiful churches. Also interesting is a visit to the ‘Mercado de Abastos’. This is an indoor food market. You can find such a traditional food market in Santiago as well.
Nevertheless, the symbol of the city is the old Roman Bridge A Ponte do Burgo. The bridge that gave name to the city and that you’ll probably pass when visiting Pontevedra.
To conclude, nearby Pontevedra you can find some beautiful beaches. You’ll have to go out of town to find them, for example to Sanxenxo of another coastal village in the Rías Baixas.