5 essentials if you visit Ourense: Cathedral, Roman Bridge, As Burgas, San Lázaro Park, Thermal Walk

Ourense is a city marked by water: the one that goes above, the Miño River and its tributaries Lonia and Barbaña, and the one that goes below, very warm, which gushes in numerous springs. It is also marked by stone, that of the rich heritage of the historic center.

The protagonist of the monumental area of ​​Ourense is the Cathedral, in the Plaza del Trigo. It is a great Romanesque temple, with austere touches from the Cistercian, and later remodeling, of course, so that it has Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical elements. It is dedicated to San Martiño de Tours, a very popular saint in the Middle Ages, patron saint of the city and the diocese of Ourense.

From a distance it is well recognized by the dome. The tower is octagonal, 28 m high, in the Flamboyant Gothic style, and has twelve windows through which light enters the transept. Inside, a large star-shaped vault and, under each window, an apostle. The dome was designed by Rodrígo de Badajoz and built between 1499 and 1505. It illuminates the main chapel, where the 16th-century altarpiece by Cornelis de Holanda shines with much gold leaf. The chapel of Santo Cristo also shines, in which the carving of Christ on the cross stands out, which is said to have been found by some sailors in Fisterra in the 14th century. Legend also says that his hair grows, and a barber cuts it every week.

If we enter the cathedral through the west door we find the great Portico of Paradise, from the mid-13th century. It has large arches, the central one with a mullion, and the influence of the Portico of Glory is noticeable in the arrangement of the figures. The most singular thing is that it preserves part of the original polychromy.

Another symbol of the city is the Roman Bridge, also called Ponte Vella or Ponte Maior. It dates from the first century, but really what remains today from that time is only part of the base. It was rebuilt in the 13th century and remodeled over time, and since the 17th century it has had the same appearance.

Of the eleven primitive arches, seven are preserved. At one time it had a tower which, by the way, appears on the city’s coat of arms. Of course, the construction of this bridge meant a lot to Ourense, since for a long time it was the only one in the area. Today in the city alone there are eight.

Ourense is also known as “a cidade das Burgas” (As Burgas city), since its origin has to do with As Burgas. Aquis Aurienses (Golden Waters) was born around these hot springs, the Roman settlement that promoted the development of the area. And of this remain the remains of a balnea (bathhouse) and a sanctuary.

The water in As Burgas comes from aquifers more than 1 km deep and emanates at more than 60 ºC. In this space, the upper area is distinguished, where the fountain of A Burga de Arriba, from the 17th century, is located; a central space, with the enclosure of the thermal pool, and the lower part, with the fountain of A Burga de Abaixo, from the 19th century. On one side of the latter is the Fervedoiro, a square pond with bubbling water. In the upper area are the archaeological remains, the pool and the sanctuary from the 1st century, which connects with the Archaeological-Thermal Interpretation Center.

If we talk about modern Ourense, all we have go to San Lázaro Park, where the city bustles. Formerly here was the lazaretto, and also the chapel of San Lázaro, where since 1929 the Franciscan church has been. It was also a field of the fair.

Over time, and with the construction of new buildings, the field became smaller. In the end, it was left in a square plan on two levels, with many trees and benches. In the center there is a baroque fountain that had belonged to the Oseira monastery. There are also children’s play areas. And, of course, sculptures: in the center, O anxo by Francisco Asorey, from 1951; at the top, O Carrabouxo, by César Lombera, from 1992; in the lower part, in one corner, the Rallye de Ourense, by Ramón Conde, from 2006 and, in the other, A castiñeira, by Xosé Cid, from 2001.

And, to round off our visit to Ourense, we only need a walk along the riverbank. But this is not just any walk, because in addition to enjoying nature without leaving the city, we have the chance to take a very healthy bath. We refer to the Miño Thermal Walk. The route begins after the Millennium Bridge, on the right bank of the river. Along 4 km of pedestrian path, there are up to seven thermal installations: A Chavasqueira; the fountain and viewpoint of O Tinteiro; Or Muíño da Veiga; Termas de Outariz and the thermal zone of Outariz and Burga de Canedo, the largest center. Then you have to cross the footbridge to the other bank of the river, and continue along the Paseo das Ninfas to the Reza fountain, the last stop on the walk.

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