Sleeping in a pazo (manor house)

Listen to the song of the birds from dawn, maybe a rooster, without the noise of the cars; take refuge between thick stone walls full of history; take a walk through the gardens among the scent of boxwoods, perhaps forming labyrinths and all, and the bright colors of camellias and bougainvillea, perhaps among the coolness of fountains, ponds, or even streams; eat good food in the heat of the lareira, in old crockery; rest taking the air in the sunroom, or inside, in the library; listening to the crickets as night falls… We can almost imagine that the pazo has belonged to our family for generations and that now it is our turn to enjoy it. Hey! Wake up! Not everyone has a pazo! But we always have the option to spend a night in one, at least…

It is that many of these pazos, after times of splendor and times of decline, passing from hand to hand, ending up being summer residences, or farmhouses, or even being expropriated, reach the 21st century transformed into a resource tourist. Keeping a pazo in good condition costs its own so, by diversifying its functions, they become a  economic source, or sometimes simply a help to stay on their feet.

Thus, there are particular pazos that can be visited, such as Faramello, in Rois, which boasts of being the most visited in Galicia; others are home to museums, such as the Quiñones de León de Vigo, or institutional centers, such as Gandarán, Pontevedra, headquarters of the Biological Mission of Galicia, or Lourizán, headquarters of the Forestry Research Center; others are famous for their wineries, in the Rías Baixas, such as Rubiáns, in Vilagarcía de Arousa, or Fefiñáns, in Cambados; Others boast gardens and camellias of international fame, such as Pazo de Oca, Quinteiro da Cruz, or A Saleta, which are part of the camellia route…

On the other hand, with their rustic and historical touch, the pazos are endearing places for holding public or private events, parties, weddings and even concerts, such as the Pazo de Cea summer festivals, for example. Some focus on gastronomy, with kitchens run by prestigious chefs, such as Pepe Vieira (paz da Buzaca), or Pepe Solla (pazo de Cea).

Although, to make the most of the atmosphere of the pazo, it is best to stay the night. We are lucky, because many have been converted into hotels. They are the five stars of rural accommodation. They are classified in group a, so they have to meet the condition of being from before 1900 and offering between 5 and 15 rooms.

They normally have two floors and an attic, facing south or east, looking for the sun. In addition to the main house, they can keep other rooms, such as a chapel, a dovecote, a granary… and, above all, a large garden.

As Galicia is full of pazos, and all fantastically located, there are varied offers in the interior and on the coast. Although the largest and most luxurious are in the province of Pontevedra, where the protagonists are the vineyards and the camellias. By the way, in Nigrán, in the Val Miñor, there is a street called Los pazos, one of the first in the ranking of the most expensive dwellings in all of Galicia.

There are pazos with sea views, such as La Merced in Neda, Ferrol. It dates from the 16th century, and legend has it that it is linked by an underwater passageway to the monastery of San Martiño de Xubia, on the other bank of the estuary. In the 18th century it was a tanning factory; in the 19th century, a Franciscan convent and, since 1991, lodging, being the first to do so in the province of A Coruña. As we can see, the pazos are always in transformation…

If we are more of a mountain, we can also relax in manor houses between mountains, such as Freiría, in A Pobra de Trives, or the Pazo da Pena, in Manzaneda, for example, near Cabeza de Manzaneda, from which we can visit the Invernadeiro Natural Park or even approach Las Médulas .

Perhaps what we are looking for is a pazo with towers and stairways. Well, there is the one in Torres de Agrelo, in Redondela, with views of San Simón y Rande, rebuilt in the 19th century on the ruins of a Franciscan convent. The Pazo da Touza, on the famous Pazos de Nigrán street, also has a good tower and a beautiful balustrade, as well as curious lion-headed gargoyles.

For people for whom the garden is not enough, let them know that there are establishments that also have extra leisure resources, such as the Pazo de Sedor, in Arzúa (with paddle tennis, swimming pool, vegetable garden, bikes…); Bentraces, in Barbadás, Ourense, also with a swimming pool; or the Pazo de Souto, in Sísamo, Carballo (swimming pool, organic garden, cafeteria, tennis courts, playground…), among others.

In short, there are many country houses to choose from… And sleeping in one of them, in addition to being relaxing, is a way of immersing ourselves fully in nature and in the history of this land.

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