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Rounded Pilgrims Church and Ravachol Parrot
Currents Bridge
St. Mary Basilica
Pontevedra city
Flag of Pontevedra
Coat of arms of Pontevedra
Coat of arms
Motto: Pontevedra boa vila (The good town of Pontevedra)
Location of the municipality of Pontevedra within Galicia
Location of the municipality of Pontevedra within Galicia
Pontevedra is located in Spain
Location of Pontevedra in the Iberian Peninsula
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Country  Spain
Region Galicia
Province Pontevedra
County Pontevedra
Parishes Alba, Bora, O Burgo, Campañó, Campolongo, A Canicouva, Cerponzóns, Lérez, Lourizán, Marcón, Monteporreiro, Mourente, Ponte Sampaio, San Bartolomé de Pontevedra, Santa María de Pontevedra, A Virxe do Camiño de Pontevedra, Salcedo, Santa María de Xeve, Tomeza, Verducido, Xeve
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Body Concello de Pontevedra
 • Mayor Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores (BNG)
 • Deputy mayor Antón Louro Goyanes
 • Total 118.3 km2 (45.68 sq mi)
Elevation 20 m (70 ft)
Population (2014)INE
 • Total 82,946
 • Density 701.04/km2 (1,815.5/sq mi)
Demonym(s) pontevedrés (m), pontevedresa (f)
teucrino (m) teucrina (f)
Time zone CET (GMT +1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (GMT +2) (UTC)
Postcode 36001, 36002, 36003, 36004, 36005
Area code(s) +34 986 / 886
ISO 3166-2 ES-PO
Website City of Pontevedra

Pontevedra (Galician: [ˌponteˈβɛ.ðɾa], Spanish: [ponteˈβeðɾa]) is a Spanish city in the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the capital of both the Comarca (County) and Province of Pontevedra, and of the Rias Baixas in Galicia. It is also the capital of its own municipality which is, in fact, often considered as an extension of the actual city. Pontevedra is the provincial district court seat.

Pontevedra has transformed into one of the most accessible cities and has been awarded for its urban quality international prizes like the European prize, "Intermodes" in Brussels in 2013, the "ONU-Habitat" prize in Dubai in 2014 and the "Excellence Prize" of the Center for Active Design in New York in 2015.[1]


The name of the city is likely a Latin composite of pons, pontis (bridge) and veter, vetera, veterum (old, long established). In Galicia, Latin pons, a masculine word, became feminine, hence Vulgar Latin Ponte Vetera,[2] which became by the 13th century the modern Galician language toponymy Pontevedra, "the old bridge", in reference to an old Roman bridge across the Lérez river, which had been located near the 12th century gl (Burgo Bridge) that remains in place today.


Location and subdivisions

Praza da Leña, the old firewood marketplace, in the old quarter

The municipality of Pontevedra is located between 42°20' and 42°30' north and 8°33' and 8°41' west, in the southwestern Galician coast, an area popularly known as Rias Baixas. The municipality covers 118.3 km² and is about 20 km wide from north to south.

The city sits at the end of the ria that bears its name, occupying the valleys of the Lérez and Tomeza rivers. It extends southwards to the mouth of river Verdugo in Ponte Sampaio. It is surrounded by four mountainous regions divided by two faults, one stretching north-south and one from northeast to southwest.

To the north it borders the municipalities of Barro, Moraña and Campo Lameiro; to the east, Cotobade and Ponte Caldelas; to the south, Soutomaior, Vilaboa and Marín, and to the west, Poio and the ria, leading to the Atlantic Ocean.

Ria of Pontevedra, Congress Hall and Tirantes Bridge

The main parroquias (parishes) of Pontevedra are: Alba, Bora, Campañó, A Canicouva, Cerponzóns, Estribela, Lérez, Lourizán, Marcón, Mourente, Ponte Sampaio, Salcedo, San Xosé, Santa María de Xeve, Tomeza, Verducido, Xeve.

Burgo Bridge was built in the 12th century near the former site of a Roman bridge, the "old bridge" that gave the city its name.

The neighbourhoods or main areas of Pontevedra are: O Burgo, Monteporreiro, Campolongo, Mollabao, A Seca, Salgueiriños, A Parda, Gorgullón. The residential area of A Caeira, although officially located in the municipality of Poio, is often considered as just another neighbourhood of Pontevedra since the vast majority of the residents work in Pontevedra and relate to the city.


The municipality of Pontevedra is composed of the city of Pontevedra and fifteen rural parishes in close proximity, with a total population of 82,946 (as of 2014).[3] This results in a relative high density of population of 710.1 inhabitants per square kilometre. More than two-thirds of the population live in the city, and less than one-third in the rural parishes.

The population of Pontevedra is mature where generational replacement is not necessarily assured, although the city has been slowly but gradually growing in recent years. In the breakdown it shows 15.93% of senior citizens, 69% between 15 and 65 years, and just 15.01% under the 15 years of age. The natality rate (9.8‰) is only +1.8 over the mortality rate (8‰). The migrational balance is slightly positive (+350 people in 2006).[3] According to the local authorities Pontevedra is, since 1999, the fastest growing Galician city, with an average of +1000 more inhabitants per year.[4]

Year Population
1900 22,330
1930 30,821
1950 43,221
1981 64,184
2004 78,715
2007 80,202
2009 81,576
2012 82,684
2014 82,946

According to the 2001 census, 29.6% of the population have Galician as their mother tongue, where 32.1% speak it "often". The remaining 38.3% speak Spanish as their native language or speak mostly in Spanish[5]


Pontevedra has a humid oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). The average temperature is 15 °C (59 °F), with a daily average of 9.5 °C (49.1 °F) in January and 20.5 °C (68.9 °F) in July. These are unusually mild for a city so far north, and are due to Pontevedra’s proximity to the sea and to the moderating effect of the ria. Yet, like all the Galician coast, Pontevedra is subject to occasional Atlantic storms in winter. These are characterised by a quick drop in temperature, rain and gales.

Overall Pontevedra, as Galicia, is rainy, especially at the end of autumn and winter, with an annual average precipitation of 1,700 to 1,900 millimetres (66.9 to 74.8 in), and around 134 rainy days per year. Summer is drier, generally speaking, but the odd heavy rainfall does happen even then.[6]

Climate data for Pontevedra 108m (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.5
Average high °C (°F) 12.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.6
Average low °C (°F) 6.3
Record low °C (°F) −3.6
Average rainfall mm (inches) 178
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 14 11 11 14 12 7 5 6 8 14 14 14 131
Mean monthly sunshine hours 103 123 181 203 239 262 294 279 224 145 104 91 2,248
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[7]


Pontevedra is well connected by road and rail. It sits on the A Coruña-Vigo railway and motorway corridor. Pontevedra is located between the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela (58 km to the north) and the largest Galician municipality, Vigo (30 km to the south). Pontevedra itself does not have an airport, but both the municipalities of Compostela and Vigo have airports. A good network of roads and motorways efficiently connects Pontevedra with these cities, and also with Portugal (57 km to the south), and inland (100 km to the eastern city of Ourense). Regular bus lines link Pontevedra with other Galician cities and towns, as well as with Madrid, Porto and Lisbon (among others).

As of 2008, it is expected that the AVE high-speed train (in Spanish Tren de alta velocidad, or TAV) will reach Pontevedra in 2014.[needs update] Pontevedra will then become a stop in the "Atlantic Line", running from the northern Galician city of A Coruña to Lisbon (Portugal).[8][9][10] Likewise, it is expected that Pontevedra will benefit from the high-speed train connecting Galicia and central Spain. That connection is expected to start working around 2012,[needs update] although it will only be fully operational around 2018.[11]

Despite the fact that Pontevedra was once the main Galician port, at present the tiny Pontevedra harbour is only used for recreational purposes, not for cargo or passenger transportation. Neighbouring Marín is a major military and commercial harbour 7 km away in addition to the Port of Vigo, a bigger fishing port.


Peregrina Church

Pontevedra has traditionally been a trading city. In the Middle Ages, guilds thrived in the old town, giving name to streets and squares still preserved today. At that time Pontevedra was the main Galician port, providing for a very intense fishing and sea-trading activity.

In the 1833 territorial division of Spain Galicia was sub-divided into four provinces, and Pontevedra became capital of its own province. The city then became an administrative and commercial centre, in contrast with Vigo, which attracted the industrial activity, after Franco's government gave this city a free-trade zone and a Development Pole. In fact, the first modern industries to appear in Pontevedra would only do so in the 1960s.

At present, the tertiary sector employs 65 per cent of the population, while industry employs 17 per cent. Industrial activity is reduced to a handful of companies, namely pulp mills (in gradual recession) and construction. The tertiary sector is not especially dynamic, although a number of policies have been implemented to improve the situation. Tourism is on the increase, with visitors coming mostly from Spain and Portugal. The total unemployment rate is 20.47% (November 2015) with a 54% unemployment rate for young people (16-25 years old) according to data from the INE (National Statistics Institute).[3] Pontevedra was the seat of Caixa de Pontevedra.


The Fiel Contraste

A local legend relates the foundation of Pontevedra to Teucer, hero of the Trojan War, a legend which was reinforced with the suspicion that Greek traders might have arrived to the Rias Baixas area in ancient times.[12] However, historians and archaeologists tend to agree that the initial settlement was probably formed during the integration of Gallaecia (old Galicia) into the Roman Empire (circa 1st century BC). The name of the city is a Latin composite, derived from Pons/Pontis (bridge) and Veteris/Vetera (old), hence Ponte(m)Vetera(m), and thence Galician language Ponte-Vedra, "the old bridge", in reference to the old Roman bridge across Lérez River. Well-connected since Roman times, Pontevedra consolidated itself as an intermediate town during the Suebic period (circa 5th-6th century AD).

During the 12th century Pontevedra rose as an important commercial centre; it reached its zenith in the 15th century as a trade and communications hub. Pontevedra was the main Galician urban centre. In fact, Pontevedra has the second largest "old town" in Galicia, only after Santiago de Compostela. Pontevedra was on the route of the Way of Saint James, namely its southern or "Portuguese" branch. The "Igrexa da Virxe Peregrina" (Church of the Pilgrims), with its distinctive scallop-shaped floor plan, is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.

In the 16th century it still was a commercial city, with an increase in fishing. At that time, Pontevedra was the largest Galician port, as it was a secure port open to the sea. One of Christopher Columbus' ships, the carrack Santa Maria, originally named La Gallega ("The Galician"), was built in Pontevedra.[13][14] It was in centuries later that the sedimentation caused by river Lérez gradually rendered the harbour unsuitable for large-scale navigation.

The end of the 16th century marked the beginning of the decline of the city, a decline which had already started for the rest of Galicia from the end of the 15th century. The situation would worsen during the 17th and 18th centuries. The port drastically reduced its activity due to the mentioned geographical causes. Furthermore, political decisions and dynastic conflicts provoked a general decay in trade, thus resulting in the depopulation of the city; the population was reduced in half during that time, also affected by epidemics.[15]

Gothic Bells House

In the beginning of the 19th century Pontevedra was little more than a small backward town. Fishing, arts and crafts kept the economy going. Yet, with the establishment of new provincial divisions in 1833 Pontevedra suddenly saw itself transformed into a provincial capital. Pontevedra then grew and slowly became an administrative centre. The introduction of the railway also reconnected the city with the rest of the country, after having lost its harbour. All in all, Pontevedra sees in this century a cultural, economic and urban revival. It is in Pontevedra when, in 1853, Xoán Manuel Pintos publishes the first book in modern Galician, "A gaita gallega".

Pontevedra entered the 20th century with great prospects. At that point the city was the Galician cultural and political heart. Galicianists - such as Alexandre Bóveda and Castelao - took up residence in the city, where they founded the Partido Galeguista ("Galicianist Party") in 1931, origin of contemporary Galician nationalism. Yet, the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and subsequent Francoist dictatorship (1939–1975) suddenly ended Pontevedra's progression. Political repression and economic hardships forced many to emigrate. It was only during the 1960s, with the introduction of some industrial activity, when the local economy partially recovered. However, these same industries would later cause serious environmental and health concerns, forcing the eventual closure of some of them.

With the end of the dictatorship in 1975 the construction sector also developed. Improvements in the communications network during the 1980s and 1990s helped Pontevedra to regain weight in the Rias Baixas region, acting again as a trade hub and focusing on its administrative functions as provincial capital. Since 1999 Pontevedra has seen intense urban renewal and cultural revival, positively influencing the local economy. Pontevedra has transformed into one of the most accessible cities for disabled people, and was awarded a national prize for this issue in 2006 and the European prize, "Intermodes" in 2013. [16][17][18][19]

The introduction of university studies in the city during the 1990s contributed further to the growth of the city.


Pontevedra is a provincial and comarcal (county, but with no administrative role) capital, as well as seat of the district court. The city hosts the headquarters of the provincial government as well as a delegation of the Galician government, in addition to some offices representing the Spanish government. The city provides a wide range of administrative services with an effect reaching far beyond its municipal limits. This makes Pontevedra a focal point for intense political struggles despite its relative small size.

Administrative City of Pontevedra

Since the restoration of democracy in 1977 after the dictatorship, Pontevedra's local government had traditionally been controlled by the conservative People's Party of Galicia (Partido Popular de Galicia, PPdeG-PP). However, after the 1999 elections the office of Mayor was won by Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, representing the Galician Nationalist Bloc (Bloque Nacionalista Galego, BNG), in coalition with the Socialist Party of Galicia (Partido Socialista de Galicia, PSdeG-PSOE), until today. The local corporation is divided into a number of departments, or concellarias, each one dealing with a specific issue such as Planning, Environment, Revenue, Mobility and Transportation, Sports, Public Works, or Tourism.

Results of the local elections in Pontevedra:[20][21][22][23]

Health, education and culture

Pontevedra is well provided with quality private and public clinics and health centres, where the Montecelo Hospital[24] stands out as the largest health centre in the comarca and one of the largest in the province. This hospital is renowned for its oncology department. Public health is regulated by the Galician Health Service (Servizo Galego de Saúde).

Ponte dos Tirantes, modern bridge over Lérez River

The city houses a number of university departments, acting as a branch of the University of Vigo.[25][26] Namely these are: Nursing, Forestry Technical Engineering, Physiotherapy, Educational Sciences and Sport, and Social, Media and Communication Sciences. Many come to Pontevedra to complete their studies in Fine Arts, as this is the only location in Galicia where this discipline can be studied at university level.

Pontevedra also hosts a branch of the Spanish national distance university, the UNED.[27] The city has its own Official School of Languages, regulated by the Galician Department of Education.

Cultural infrastructure in Pontevedra is mainly represented by two venues: The Teatro Principal, in the old town, with a capacity of 434 seated spectators;[28] and the Auditorium-Congress Hall, a modern complex composed by an auditorium with capacity for 772 seated people, a large congress hall, and a number of meeting rooms and smaller halls.[29] In addition, every year the City Council organises a series of free, open and public activities, such as a Jazz festival, open air cinema sessions, a medieval fair reenactment,[30] and other festivities that normally take place in the streets and public squares of the old town.

The Pontevedra Conservatory was established in 1863 and is celebrating its sesquicentenary in 2013. It has been renamed the Conservatorio Profesional de Música Manuel Quiroga, in honour of one of the city's most famous sons, the violinist, composer and artist Manuel Quiroga (1892-1961).[31]


An ancient town and medieval port, Pontevedra has been described as a "definitive old Galician town". Sights include the pilgrim chapel in the Praza da Peregrina, the historic Zona Monumental (old city), the Praza de Leña, the market, and the Alameda, a promenade along the ria. Pontevedra has a large pedestrian centre (the old town and surroundings) which, together with a number of parks and public squares, makes the city very pleasant for strolling. In recent years most historical buildings and streets have been either re-built or revamped, providing for a well preserved urban landscape.

The city by its Ria 
Gothic Santo Domingo Church 
Upper part of Santa Maria Basilica façade 
Leña Square 
Rounded Baroque Pilgrim Church 
Corrientes Bridge, from the inside 
Curros Enríquez Square, old town 
Teucro on San José square 
Baroque San Bartolomé church 
City Hall, 19th century 
Gothic Santo Domingo Church 
Mugartegui Baroque Palace 
Palace of the 19th century, Headquarters of the Provincial Council 
Museum of Pontevedra Baroque Palace 
Gothic church of San Francisco 
Tertulia Monument 
Harbour square 
Leña square 
Cultural Center and Concert Hall 
Santa Maria square, old town 
Marina of Pontevedra, between the Barca Bridge and the Corrientes Bridge 
Verdura square, old town 
Corrientes Bridge 
Market and Lérez River 
Renaissance Santa Maria Basilica 
Footbridge and Tirantes Bridge over Lérez River 
Labyrinth of Pontevedra, Robert Morris 
Pontevedra Ria and Barca Bridge 
Sailors Monument 
García Flórez Palace, Pontevedra Museum 
Santa Maria Basilica façade 
Promenade by the sea 
Faculty of Social and Communication Sciences 
Santa Maria Basilica, inside 
San José church in the Campolongo district 
Liberty square 
Manuel Quiroga street, old town 
Graffiti in Campolongo dedicated to Xoan Manuel Pintos 
Physiotherapy Faculty 
Valle-Inclán on Méndez Núñez square 
Constitution square 
Railway station 
Church of San Benito Monastery 
Eiriña Fountain 
Valle-Inclán's House 


Pontevedra has a long sporting tradition, with a number of teams competing professionally in different categories. For example:

  • Football: Pontevedra CF, playing in the Spanish "Segunda División B".
  • Handball: SD Teucro, playing in the Spanish Liga ASOBAL (first division). There is also a minor handball team called BM Cisne.
  • Indoor football: Leis 26 Pontevedra, playing in the Spanish second division of the Spanish indoor football professional league (LNFS).
  • Rugby: Pontevedra has two rugby teams, Mareantes Rugby Clube Pontevedra and Pontevedra Rugby Club. Both teams play in the Galician First Division. In the 2012/13 season, Mareantes RCP won the play-off final to become the league champions.
  • Volleyball: C. Durán (amateur).
  • Waterpolo: CN Pontevedra, playing in the Galician Waterpolo League: [2].
  • Fencing: Club Escola Hungaresa de Esgrima de Pontevedra, founded in 2007, this is the only fencing club in Galicia specialised in sabre. Members of this club compete regularly in the Galician leagues and in the Spanish Sabre Championship.

Pontevedra is the seat of the Centro Galego de Tecnificación Deportiva (High Performance Sporting Centre of Galicia), and it also hosts a number of rowing and canoeing clubs. World and Olympic canoeing champion David Cal used to train in the ria of Pontevedra.

Sister cities

Pontevedra is twinned with[32][33]

Notable people

See also


  1. [1] (Centre for Active Design, New York). Access date 5 May 2015
  2. Cabeza Quiles, Fernando (2008). Toponimia de Galicia. Vigo: Galaxia. p. 507. ISBN 978-84-9865-092-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Statistical Profile for Pontevedra (municipality), from the Galician Institute of Statistics. Access date 22 April 2009
  4. Concello de Pontevedra, Introduction to Pontevedra
  5. Banco de dados municipal (Pontevedra), IGE, retrieved on 21/05/10
  6. Meteogalicia (Galician Meteorological Centre). Access date 29 September 2008
  7. "Guía resumida del clima en España (1981-2010)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Newspaper La Voz de Galicia, on possible delays in the construction of the high speed railways. 11 April 2006
  9. Newspaper Diario de Pontevedra, on expected investments and time of completion. 29 September 2008.
  10. Vieiros. 12 January 2009.
  11. ADIF, on the deployment of the high-speed train in North and North-Western Spain. 14 April 2010
  12. Ireland in Galicia, by the Amergin University Institute of Research in Irish Studies, University of A Coruña. Access date 17-11-2008
  13. Picture of commemorative monument and explanation
  14. Text in Spanish explaining the alleged Galician origin of Columbus and how the main ship was built in Pontevedra
  15. History of Pontevedra, by the Concello de Pontevedra. Access date 29 September 2008
  16. Details on accessibility urban reform. Access date 19 Sept. 2008
  17. Press release, on newspaper La Voz de Galicia. Access date 19 Sept. 2008
  18. Pontevedra as a "model to follow" in Portugal. Access date 7 Oct 2008
  19. Recent prizes and accolades awarded to the city of Pontevedra. Access date 7 Oct. 2008
  20. Instituto Galego de Estatística (Galician Institute of Statistics; primary source) Access date 18 Sept. 2008
  21. El Mundo newspaper, coverage on local elections. Access date 18 Sept. 2008
  22. El País newspaper, coverage on local elections. Access date 18 Sept. 2008
  23. ABC newspaper, coverage on local elections. Access date 18 Sept. 2008
  24. Hospital Montecelo de Pontevedra, Mourente s/n, 36071 Pontevedra, Galicia. Ph (+34)986 800000
  25. Pontevedra Campus, of the University of Vigo
  26. University of Vigo, listing of campuses and departments
  27. UNED - Pontevedra Campus
  28. Teatro Principal Pontevedra Galicia
  29. Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones de Pontevedra Galicia
  30. Video of the Feira Franca (medieval fair recreation in Pontevedra). Retrieved 20 September 2008. Approx. running time 22 minutes
  31. Conservatorio Profesional Manuel Quiroga, Pontevedra Conservatorio
  32. SECRI, Salvador da Bahia
  33. List of sister cities of Galician municipalities (by IGADI)
  34. Castelao in a letter to the President of the Pontevedra Centre in Buenos Aires, 1947


  • Calo Lourido, F. et al. (2003): Pontevedra e o mar. Simposio de historia marítima do século XII ao XVI. Concello de Pontevedra, Pontevedra
  • De la Peña, A. (1996): Historia de Pontevedra. Vía Láctea, A Coruña
  • Díaz Martínez, C. et al. (2001): A memoria de Pontevedra. Edicións Xerais, Vigo
  • Fariña Jamardo, X. (2000): "La capitalidad de Pontevedra", in Historia de las Rías, vol. 2, p. 489-504. Faro de Vigo, Vigo
  • García-Braña, C. et al. (1988): Pontevedra, planteamiento histórico y urbanístico, Deputación Provincial de Pontevedra, Servizo de Publicacións, Pontevedra
  • Juega Puig, J. et al. (1996): Historia de Pontevedra. Via Láctea, A Coruña
  • Juega Puig, J. (2000): As ruas de Pontevedra. Deputación Provincial de Pontevedra, Servizo de Publicacións, Pontevedra
  • López y López Rios, B. (1990): Pontevedra, de la leyenda a la historia. Deputación Provincial de Pontevedra, Servizo de Publicacións, Pontevedra

External links

  • Concello de Pontevedra - Official site of the local government (in Galician and Spanish, with summarised versions in English and French)
  • Turismo en Pontevedra - Official site of the Pontevedra tourist board, maintained by the local government (in Galician, English, Spanish and French)
  • [3]]
  • Rias Baixas - Official site of the Rias Baixas tourist board (in Galician, English and Spanish)
  • Deputación de Pontevedra - Official site of the provincial government of Pontevedra (in Galician)
  • Diario de Pontevedra - local newspaper of Pontevedra (mostly in Spanish, with some articles in Galician)
  • Pazo da Cultura - Official site of the Auditorium-Congress Hall complex and Teatro Principal, maintained by the local government (in Galician and Spanish)
  • Pontevedra Cultura - What's on in cultural events in Pontevedra

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