Mariñán is one of the most spectacular pazos (manors) of the province of A Coruña. Located in the municipality of Bergondo, very close to Betanzos and about 25 kilometres from A Coruña city, it shares with other Galician buildings, such as the Pazo de Oca, a common history, which led them to represent the dreams of greatness of their owners around the eighteenth century.
Historians claim that the origins of Mariñán can be traced to around the fifteenth century and that a defensive building stood in this place. Its location on the banks of the Mandeo, which forms the Betanzos estuary, is the probable reason for its construction, between two of the main towns in the area in the Middle Ages: Betanzos, to the south and inland, and Pontedeume, to the north, on the outside face of the estuary.
Throughout the centuries this building was owned by members of the most important noble families in Galicia (Traba, Lemos, Altamira, Soutomaior …). Most of what is seen today in the manor is from the eighteenth century, which also left its footprint, between baroque and rationalist, in its design. The last change of ownership of Mariñán took place in the thirties in the past century, when its owner, Gerardo Bermúdez de Castro, ceded it to the Provincial Council to manage. Nowaday this public organization is still in charge and Mariñán regularly hosts meetings, debates or courses for youths.
But, in its origin, besides serving as a noble residence, Mariñán’s main function was to dazzle. The architect’s (and owner’s) desire to impress is evident from the main entrance of the building, in the interior part of the U in which the different rooms are arranged. It is achieved through stone staircases with very curious elements: two statues, dressed as servants, receive visitors in an attentive attitude that, despite the wear of the stone due to the passage of time, is still noticeable today.
It is also a staircase, of even greater proportions, that grants access to the back of the manor and its gardens. Made of granite, it is a wonder of space distribution, since it connects the large terrace to many of the rooms. It is decorated in the classic style, with huge glasses carved in stone and water conduits that adorn the balustrades.
The interior hosts part of the Diputación de A Coruña’s artistic collection. Paintings and sculptures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and furniture of the time adorn the manor’s rooms, including works by Ovidio Murguía, Picasso, Lloréns or Díaz Pardo.
The gardens deserve a separate chapter. They are located in the part of the land that faces the Mandeo in the Betanzos estuary and were designed in the nineteenth century in the formal French style. This is how it is preserved: with boxwood shrubs tracing beautiful polygonal shapes, in this area grow native trees, and also other ornamental ones from different latitudes, such as Caucasian firs, myrtle, Illinois pecans, plane trees … There is, of course, a cypress, so common in the Galician pazos.
Many of these plants are part of the Galician Catalogue of Singular Trees, which grants them special protection. The collection continues to grow, as it is tradition that illustrious visitors plant a tree in the so-called Garden of the Word.