Lugo has been standing for more centuries than any other Galician city, as it seems that it was founded by Paulo Fabio Máximo around 25 BC, although then its name was Lucus Augusti, of course. In Lugo it is a fact that the Romans were there for a while, it is something that is noticeable as soon as you arrive in the city, especially if the Arde Lucus coincides…
For example, there we have the Wall, one hundred percent Roman, which is the backbone of the urban nucleus, and an authentic symbol of the city. Built between the years 260 and 325 approximately, a World Heritage Site since 2000, it is the only Roman wall in the world that preserves its original perimeter, of more than 2 km. It frames enough space to house the historic center, with the Cathedral, the Main Square, the Town Hall, the Provincial Museum… Originally it had 85 high towers with large windows at the top. Today there are only 71 cubes left, which end up in the walkway. The tower of A Mosqueira is the only one that preserves remains of the windows. The wall walk is more than 4 m wide, and forms the most typical promenade route in Lugo, which we cannot miss, with views inside and outside the wall. If we want to go in or out we have up to ten gates, some of them new.
Just in front of one of the gates, the one of Santiago, near the Main Square, is the Cathedral of Santa María. Although its origin as a temple dates back much earlier, in the 12th century it was enlarged with Raimundo de Monforte as master builder. In the 14th century it was transformed again and, later, in the 18th century, due to the aftermath of the Lisbon earthquake. Overall, the predominant style is late Romanesque, although it shows successive Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical interventions.
In the North Gate, the Romanesque portal stands out, with Christ on the capital that represents the Last Supper. Inside, the altarpiece by Cornelis de Holanda stands out, from the 16th century, on the front of the transept, as well as the baroque choir, by Francisco de Moure, which has the particularity of being the only one in Galicia that is preserved in its original place, in the central nave. In the Gothic ambulatory, we find the Baroque chapel of The Virgin with Big Eyes, by Casas Novoa, with an altarpiece by Miguel de Romay. Here is the carving of the Virgin with the Child, which is earlier. By the way, this deep-eyed virgin is the patron saint of the city. And the patron saint is San Froilán, who also has his chapel, this Renaissance one, with the carving of Francisco de Moure.
But, in addition to the artistic works, the cathedral of Lugo has a special privilege: that of exposing the Blessed Sacrament in the main chapel all the time, day and night, following a custom that is said to date back to the 15th century. That is why Lugo is also called a sacramental city. Every year, following a 16th century tradition, an act of offering to the sacrament is made with representatives of the seven capitals of the Old Kingdom of Galicia. By the way, this host is the one that appears on the coat of arms of Galicia.
One thing is clear: from the Roman presence we cannot escape. Even outside the wall, for example, in the Miño river. If we leave the wall through the Porta Miñá or Porta do Carme, the original gate that is best preserved, and follow the Calzada da Ponte, we arrive at the Roman Bridge or Ponte Vella, which crosses the river to the southwest. With its 104 m long and 4 m wide, it joins the road with the old road to Santiago, forming part of the Camino Primitivo. It dates from the 1st century, when the XIX road passed through here, which reached Bracara Augusta. Over time, it underwent several renovations, which turned it into a pedestrian bridge, ideal for following the route along the river promenade.
And following the walk for about 100 m, we come to the Roman baths, another memory that the Empire left us. They are remains of an old spa (around 15 BC). The best preserved enclosure is the apodyditerium, that is, the changing room. There are also remains of the old bath room, vaulted, with the area for cold (frigidarium), warm (tepidarium) and hot (caldarium) baths. Today they are inside the Hotel Balneario de Lugo, which is the one that organizes the visits to access the hot springs.
To say goodbye to Lugo, there is nothing better than going to the wine area. Here we see how welcoming this land is, where tradition dictates that tapas be free. That and how rich they are, is something that hooks the visitor. Although there are many hotels and restaurants along Lugo, the typical meeting place to have a few cups is inside the wall, in the area of rúa Nova, which faces the Porta Nova; rúa da Cruz, and the intersection of the two, in the Praza do Campo. Here we have many places to choose from, and a lot of atmosphere in the street and, while we have a drink, we can plan our next visit to Lugo, because we will surely return.