Vigo is the most populated city in Galicia, well known for its port, one of the largest fishing ports in the world, the Cíes Islands, a natural paradise, the estuary and its biological and gastronomic wealth, its mountains, industry, Celta… But, if we want to get to know it more closely, getting into the spirit of the city, there are at least five must-see places:
In the Plaza de Compostela, in the Ensanche area of Vigo, where the most significant buildings in the city were built a couple of centuries ago, there is a very cozy park, small, classic: the Alameda. It was built at the end of the 19th century on land reclaimed from the sea, becoming the first public urban park in the city.
It has a central promenade with centuries-old vegetation around it, among which magnolias, camellias and araucarias stand out. In the center, a fountain with a good variety of jets and night lights. There are two more fountains, towards each end of the walk. And how are we doing with sculptures? Well, around the central fountain, there are three works by Camilo Nogueira (Farewell, Maternity and Peace) and a statue of Méndez Núñez, by Agustín Querol. There is also a snail, a hyena, and a swan, the work of José Luis Medina.
The area is partially pedestrianized, and has a lot of historical buildings around it: the Yáñez de Pacewicz house, the Gómez Román Post Office building, or the house of Prudencio Nandín de Jenaro de la Fuente, for example. To round off the walk, there is nothing better than going to the sea or one of the many restaurants in the area.
Let’s go from this stately neighborhood to a more popular one, where the origin of the fishing power that is Vigo is: O Berbés. It began as a group of houses for fishermen outside the walls, in the area formerly known as Ribeira. At that time, here was the port of San Xulián, on the beach, and the sea reached the houses. In the old photos you can see how it advances to the arcades. In them the boats were left and the nets were cleaned and repaired, the fish was dried and the fishing instruments were built.
Of course, what we see today has nothing to do with the images of the past. After the Ensanche, the extensions, the disappearance of the fishing quarter and its deterioration, it seems that little by little the area is recovering and more and more buildings are being rehabilitated, such as the one destined for the university headquarters or the hostel for pilgrims on the Portuguese Way along the coast.
If the origin of the fishing Vigo is in O Berbés, at the top of the city, on Mount of O Castro, are the first known settlements of the castro, from when Vigo was Vicus. This mountain has a little bit of everything. To begin with, it is a luxury to take a walk through natural paths among the trees in the very center of the city. There is also a playground, a skating and skateboarding rink, and a bike circuit that simulates the streets on a small scale, with traffic lights and everything else. On the west slope, as if on a journey through time, we can visit the remains of the castrexo site and the reconstruction of three buildings. In addition to all this, at the top is the 17th century fortress that, together with the castle of San Sebastián and the wall, defended the city.
Inside the fortress, from the top of everything, we can look out from several viewpoints with stupendous views, and enjoy the garden and the pond. The area is dotted with sculptures, some of animals, others of homage (to Curros, to Martín Códax…) and, right at the entrance to the fortress, the anchors and cannons recovered from the estuary.
Finally, on the slope of the hill that overlooks the King Square, there is a stairway that leads to a cross that is as gigantic as it is controversial.
Another must-see site in Vigo is the Porta do Sol (Sun Gate). The gate? Where is the gate? It seems that in the past one of the gates of the city was here, and that’s where the name comes from. Today there is sun, if there is, but nothing at the door. There’s Sireno since 1991, a sculpture by Leiro, who seems to be waiting for the right moment to jump into the sea down Carral street.
Porta do Sol is a lively area that connects the center with Casco Vello. It is a meeting place, with a lot of hotels and a confluence of the most commercial streets, such as the Príncipe street, and those of the foundations, theaters, banks, hotels.
Around it there are notable architectural works of modernism from Vigo, such as the Pardo Labarta building, by Jenaro de la Fuente, or the Simeón, by Gómez Román.
On the other hand, if it was already a nerve center for celebrations such as the Reconquista festival, the switching on of Christmas lights, concerts, etc… with the recent pedestrianization, the rhythm of the festival will surely increase.
From Porta do Sol we walk towards the old town, towards the sea, we find the famous A Pedra Market, a legendary classic of Vigo. Commercial activity began in the area in the 19th century, initially as a provisional market, until it was consolidated. Later, with the postwar period, the scarcity, and so close to the port… Yes, there was a bit of black market. Over time, it became a tourist attraction for this reason, but today, it has become a fully legal outlet center, with good prices on the best brands.
A few steps from the market, Rúa das Ostras (Oyster Street) awaits us, actually Rúa da Pescadería (Fishmonger Street), where, in full view of the public, the fresh Arcade oysters are prepared. And, in the entire A Pedra neighbourhood, of course, traditional Vigo catering establishments.