Pontevedra boa vila (The good city of Pontevedra)
Location of Pontevedra in Spain
|Parishes||Alba, Bora, O Burgo, Campañó, Campolongo, A Canicouva, Cerponzóns, Lérez, Lourizán, Marcón, Monteporreiro, Mourente, Ponte Sampaio, San Bartolomé de Pontevedra, Santa María de Pontevedra, A Virxe do Camiño de Pontevedra, Salcedo, Santa María de Xeve, Tomeza, Verducido, Xeve|
|• Mayor||Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores (BNG)|
|• Total||118.3 km2 (45.68 sq mi)|
|Elevation||20 m (70 ft)|
|• Density||701.0/km2 (1,815.5/sq mi)|
|Demonym(s)||pontevedrés (m), pontevedresa (f)|
teucrino (m) teucrina (f)
|Time zone||CET (GMT +1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (GMT +2)|
|Area code(s)||+34 986 / 886|
|Website||City of Pontevedra|
Pontevedra (Galician: [ˌpontɪˈβɛðɾɐ], Spanish: [ponteˈβeðɾa]) is a Spanish city in the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the capital of both the Comarca (County) and Province of Pontevedra, and of the Rias Baixas in Galicia. It is also the capital of its own municipality which is, in fact, often considered as an extension of the actual city.
The city is best known for its urban planning, pedestrianisation and the charm of its old town. In recent years, it has been awarded several international awards for its urban quality and quality of life, accessibility and urban mobility policy, like the international European Intermodes Urban Mobility Award in 2013, the 2014 Dubai International Best Practices Award for Sustainable Development awarded by UN-Habitat in partnership with Dubai Municipality and the Excellence Award of the center for Active Design in New York City in 2015, among others. The city also won the European Commission's first prize for urban safety in 2020. Pontevedra's car-free center helped transform it into one of the most accessible European cities, leading to various European and American studies of its exemplary urban planning being carried out in recent years.
Surrounded by hills, the city is located on the edge of an estuary at the mouth of the Lérez river by the sea, at the end of the Ria de Pontevedra, in the heart of the Rías Baixas. An economic centre and tourist destination, with a population of 83,260 in 2020, it is at the head of an metropolitan area around its Ria of more than 200,000 inhabitants comprising the municipalities of Poio, Marín, Sanxenxo, Bueu, Vilaboa, Cerdedo-Cotobade, Ponte Caldelas, Barro and Soutomaior.
Pontevedra is the second city in Galicia for its rich heritage, only after Santiago de Compostela. A city of art and history, the city is known as The Good City (name attributed by the French author Jean Froissart in his Chronicles in the 14th century) or The City of the Lérez. The city is also an important stopover on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago: the circular church of the Pilgrim Virgin has a floor plan in the shape of a scallop shell and there are scallop shells sculpted in the arches of the medieval Burgo Bridge.
Pontevedra city has an important group of monumental buildings, including the Basilica of Saint Mary Major (16th century) with its plateresque Renaissance façade, the Baroque Church of the Pilgrim Virgin (18th century) with its rounded façade, the ruins of the Gothic Convent of San Domingo (13th century), the Gothic Church of San Francisco (13th century), the Baroque Church of San Bartholomew (end of the 17th century) and the Gothic Convent of Santa Clare (14th century). Its old town contains numerous coat of arms houses (the 15th century House of the Bells or the 18th century García Flórez Palace), mansions – the Mendoza Mansion, Villa Pilar – as well as old palaces such as the 18th century Mugartegui Palace, which is now the headquarters of the Rias Baixas Wine Regulatory Council, or the Counts of Maceda Palace, which is now the National Tourism Parador. Another major symbol of the city is the Ravachol Parrot, whose statue is in the city centre. The city also has a marina close to its historic centre. At present, Pontevedra is a city in full revival. It has become the flagship city of the network of cities that walk and one of the cities in the world where children live best, known as The City of Children.
Pontevedra is an important administrative centre. The city is marked by a strong presence of administrative and justice services. Pontevedra is the seat of the Provincial Deputation (equivalent to the General Provincial Council), the prefecture (Subdelegación del Gobierno) of the province of Pontevedra as well as the Palace of Justice and the provincial district court (Audiencia Provincial), the provincial police station and the provincial administrative offices.
The name of the city is likely a Latin composite of pons, pontis (bridge) and veter, vetera, veterum (old, long established). In Galicia, Latin pons, a masculine word, became feminine, hence Vulgar Latin Ponte Vetera, which became by the 13th century the modern Galician language toponymy Pontevedra, "the old bridge", in reference to an old Roman bridge across the Lérez River which had been located near the 12th century Burgo bridge that remains in place today.
The name of the town derives from the Latin pontem veteram, which means "old bridge" and refers to the first bridge that the Romans built to cross the Lérez River and the Ria de Pontevedra. However, nowadays there are historians who say that since in ancient Latin, ponto (pontus) meant sea and vedra means green, its name could be due to the particular greenness of the sea caused by the seaweed tides, being the meaning of the name of the city that of the green sea.
A local legend relates the foundation of Pontevedra to Teucer, hero of the Trojan War, a legend which was reinforced with the suspicion that Greek traders might have arrived to the Rias Baixas area in ancient times. However, historians and archaeologists tend to agree that the initial settlement was probably formed during the integration of Gallaecia (old Galicia) into the Roman Empire (circa 1st century BC)(Reference is required). The current name of the city is a Latin composite, derived from Pons/Pontis (bridge) and Veteris/Vetera (old), hence Ponte(m)Vetera(m), and thence Galician language Ponte-Vedra, "the old bridge", in reference to the old Roman bridge across Lérez River. Well-connected since Roman times, Pontevedra consolidated itself as an intermediate town during the Suebic period (circa 5th–6th century AD).
During the 12th century Pontevedra rose as an important commercial centre; it reached its zenith in the 15th century as a trade and communications hub. Pontevedra was the main Galician urban centre. In fact, Pontevedra has the second largest "old town" in Galicia, only after Santiago de Compostela. Pontevedra was on the route of the Way of Saint James, namely its southern or the Portuguese Way. The Church of the Pilgrim Virgin, with its distinctive scallop-shaped floor plan, is a destination for tourists and pilgrims.
In the 16th century it still was a commercial city, with an increase in fishing. At that time, Pontevedra was the largest Galician port, as it was a secure port open to the sea. One of Christopher Columbus' ships, the carrack Santa Maria, originally named La Gallega ("The Galician"), was built in Pontevedra. It was in centuries later that the sedimentation caused by Lérez river gradually rendered the harbour unsuitable for large-scale navigation. The end of the 16th century marked the beginning of the decline of the city, a decline which had already started for the rest of Galicia from the end of the 15th century.
The situation would worsen during the 17th and 18th centuries. The port drastically reduced its activity due to the mentioned geographical causes. Furthermore, political decisions and dynastic conflicts provoked a general decay in trade, thus resulting in the depopulation of the city; the population was reduced in half during that time, also affected by epidemics.
In the beginning of the 19th century fishing, arts and crafts kept the economy going. With the establishment of new provincial division in 1833 Pontevedra saw itself transformed into a provincial capital. The city then grew and became an administrative, cultural and commercial centre. The introduction of the railway also reconnected the city with the rest of the country, after having lost its harbour. All in all, Pontevedra sees in this century a cultural, economic and urban revival. It is in Pontevedra when, in 1853, Xoán Manuel Pintos publishes the first book in modern Galician, A gaita gallega.
Pontevedra entered the 20th century with great prospects. The city was at the heart of Galician culture and politics. Galicianists – such as Alexandre Bóveda and Castelao – took up residence in the city, where in 1931 they founded the Partido Galeguista ("Galicianist Party"), the origin of contemporary Galician nationalism. However, the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and subsequent Francoist dictatorship (1939–1975) suddenly ended Pontevedra's progression. Political repression and economic hardships forced many to emigrate.
In the 1940s–1960s the government of the Franco dictatorship granted a Free Zone and a Development Pole to the neighbouring city of Vigo, a rare case in Spain (for a city that was not a provincial capital), which favoured the development of this city in the province of Pontevedra to the detriment of the provincial capital, Pontevedra, becoming rival cities. The recovery of the local economy only partially began in the 1960s, with the introduction of some industrial activity. However, these very activities would later cause serious environmental and health concerns, forcing the eventual closure of some of them.
With the end of the dictatorship in 1975 the construction sector also developed. Improvements in the communications network during the 1980s and 1990s helped Pontevedra to regain weight in the Rias Baixas region, acting again as a trade hub and focusing on its administrative functions as provincial capital. The introduction of university studies in the city during the 1990s contributed further to the growth of the city. Since 1999 Pontevedra has seen intense urban renewal and cultural revival, positively influencing the local economy.
In the 21st century the city of Pontevedra has undergone both a cultural renaissance and an urban transformation, taking in the pedestrianisation of the city centre, extension of cycle lanes, recovery of the historical and natural heritage, rehabilitation of buildings and public spaces, and an increase in green areas and pedestrian walkways. Unlike the other six large cities of Galicia, which have lost inhabitants to neighboring municipalities, Pontevedra's population is currently increasing. It has become one of the most accessible cities for disabled people, receiving a national prize for this in 2006, along with the international European INTERMODES Urban Mobility Award in 2013, the 2014 Dubai International Best Practices Award for Sustainable Development awarded by UN-Habitat in partnership with Dubai Municipality and the Award of the Center of Active Design in New York City in 2015. Pontevedra's model for responsible mobility is currently seen as an international reference.
The municipality of Pontevedra is located between 42°20' and 42°30' north and 8°33' and 8°41' west, in the southwestern Galician coast, an area popularly known as Rias Baixas. The municipality covers 118.3 km2 (45.7 sq mi) and is about 20 km (12 mi) wide from north to south.
The city sits at the end of the ria that bears its name, occupying the valleys of the Lérez and Tomeza rivers. It extends southwards to the mouth of river Verdugo in Ponte Sampaio. It is surrounded by four mountainous regions divided by two faults, one stretching north–south and one from northeast to southwest.
To the north it borders the municipalities of Barro, Moraña and Campo Lameiro; to the east, Cotobade and Ponte Caldelas; to the south, Soutomaior, Vilaboa and Marín, and to the west, Poio and the ria, leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The main parroquias (parishes) of Pontevedra are: Alba, Bora, Campañó, A Canicouva, Cerponzóns, Estribela, Lérez, Lourizán, Marcón, Mourente, Ponte Sampaio, Salcedo, San Xosé, Santa María de Xeve, Tomeza, Verducido, Xeve.
The neighbourhoods or main areas of Pontevedra are: the old town, O Burgo, Campolongo, Mollabao, Monte Porreiro, A Parda, A Seca, Valdecorvos, Salgueiriños, Gorgullón. The residential area of A Caeira, although officially located in the municipality of Poio, is often considered as just another neighbourhood of Pontevedra since the vast majority of the residents work in Pontevedra and relate to the city.
Pontevedra has a humid oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). The average temperature is 15 °C (59 °F), with a daily average of 9.5 °C (49.1 °F) in January and 20.5 °C (68.9 °F) in July. These are unusually mild for a city so far north, and are due to Pontevedra's proximity to the sea and to the moderating effect of the ria. Yet, like all the Galician coast, Pontevedra is subject to occasional Atlantic storms in winter. These are characterised by a quick drop in temperature, rain and gales. With eleven of the twelve months above 10 °C (50 °F) Pontevedra is in the maritime subtropical climate zone under the Trewartha climate classification, a classification it falls short of under the Köppen classification due to the cool summer nights.
Overall Pontevedra, as Galicia, is rainy, especially at the end of autumn and winter, with an annual average precipitation of 1,700 to 1,900 millimetres (66.9 to 74.8 in), and around 134 rainy days per year. Summer is drier, generally speaking, making Pontevedra the sunniest city in Galicia with 2248 hours of sunshine per year.
|Climate data for Pontevedra 108m (1981–2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||22.5
|Average high °C (°F)||12.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.6
|Average low °C (°F)||6.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−3.6
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||178
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||14||11||11||14||12||7||5||6||8||14||14||14||131|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||103||123||181||203||239||262||294||279||224||145||104||91||2,248|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
The municipality of Pontevedra is composed of the city of Pontevedra and fifteen rural parishes in close proximity, with a total population of 83,260 (as of 2020). This results in a relative high density of population of 710.1 inhabitants per square kilometre. More than two-thirds of the population live in the city, and less than one-third in the rural parishes.
The population of Pontevedra is aging, with generational replacement is not necessarily assured, although the city's population has been gradually growing in recent years. Broken down by age, 15.93% of the population were senior citizens, 69% between 15 and 65 years, and just 15.01% under the 15 years of age. The natality rate (9.8‰) is only +1.8 over the mortality rate (8‰). The migrational balance is slightly positive (+350 people in 2006). According to the local authorities Pontevedra is, since 1999, the fastest growing Galician city, with an average of +1000 more inhabitants per year. Pontevedra is the city with the youngest population in Galicia and northwest Spain and the Galician city that attracts the most people to live in, together with Santiago de Compostela. It is the Galician city with the best rate of natural increase (RNI).
According to the 2001 census, 29.6% of the population have Galician as their mother tongue, where 32.1% speak it "often". The remaining 38.3% speak Castilian as their native language or speak mostly in Castilian
Pontevedra has a pedestrian city centre (which includes the old town and the city centre or first urban expansion area) which, together with parks such as Las Palmeras (the Palm Trees Park) and squares, make the city very pleasant to walk in and give it a high quality of life.
An island on the Lérez, opposite a remarkable cable-stayed bridge dating from 1995 (the Tirantes Bridge, the Strap Bridge) and next to the modern Pontevedra Auditorium and Convention Centre shelters the city's green lung, the famous Island of Sculptures park. It is a space where international artists such as Robert Morris, Ulrich Rückriem, Anne and Patrick Poirier, Giovanni Anselmo, Richard Long, Ian Hamilton Finlay or Jenny Holzer have left their works.
Another large park, the Xunqueira de Alba, is located near the Burgo district, in front of the tied-arch bridge Currents Bridge, inaugurated in 2012.
The capital of the province of Pontevedra has become one of the most pedestrianised cities in Spain over the last fifteen years. The old city and much of the city centre are pedestrianized, so that in these neighbourhoods, motorized transport is limited to residents and services.
In 1999 Pontevedra began its transformation process by pedestrianizing its old town. In the following years, the city centre and some other streets on the outskirts of Pontevedra were pedestrianised too. In 2010, Pontevedra was the first provincial capital in Spain to reduce the maximum speed in the city centre to 30 kilometres per hour and in 2019 to 10 kilometres per hour in the city centre.
In Pontevedra, the Metrominuto pedestrian plan was created for urban mobility, which with the urban transformation of the city has won many national and international awards such as the international European INTERMODES Urban Mobility Award in 2013 and the 2014 Dubai International Best Practices Award for Sustainable Development awarded by UN-Habitat in partnership with Dubai Municipality. The Metrominuto is a map based on the aesthetics of metro maps, which marks the pedestrian distances between the most important points of the city and the time it takes to travel them. The Metrominuto has been used as a model in other European cities such as Toulouse in France, Florence, Ferrara Modena or Cagliari in Italy, Poznan in Poland or the Angels' district in London. In Spain, it has inspired other cities such Zaragoza, Seville, Cadiz, Salamanca, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, A Coruña or Pamplona. As a result, 65% of trips in the city centre are made on foot. Pontevedra was recognized in 2016 as one of the 15 best cycling cities in the world. The urban model of the city of Pontevedra follows the models of other European cities such as Amsterdam, Bruges or Copenhagen.
The urban transformation of Pontevedra and measures to reduce motorized traffic in the city centre have reduced by 65% the emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels in the capital over the last decade and have been reported by foreign and French television channels such as France 2, France 3, Canal+ or TF1 and the Swiss channel Radio Télévision Suisse RTS and other foreign televisions like MBC TV in South Korea, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Canada or Seven Network in Australia.
As regards public transport, Pontevedra has two urban bus lines in the city centre:
There is also a high frequency urban bus service between Pontevedra and Marín, which is located in the metropolitan area of Pontevedra and with which the city forms a virtual urban continuum.
Pontevedra is well connected by road and rail. It sits on the A Coruña-Tui railway and motorway corridor. Pontevedra railway station is located between the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela (58 km to the north) and the largest Galician municipality, Vigo (30 km to the south). Renfe also has a Pontevedra-University railway stop in the city to serve the A Xunqueira university campus and the Monte Porreiro, Tafisa and A Seca neighbourhoods. Pontevedra city itself does not have an airport in its municipality but the city is relatively close to the airports of Lavacolla to the north (in the municipality of Santiago de Compostela) and Peinador to the south (in the municipalities of Redondela, Mos and Vigo). A good network of roads and motorways efficiently connects Pontevedra with the other Galician cities, and also with Portugal (55 km to the south), and inland (100 km to the eastern city of Ourense). Regular bus lines link Pontevedra with other Galician cities and towns, as well as with Madrid, Porto and Lisbon (among others).
The AVE high-speed train (in Spanish Tren de alta velocidad, or TAV) reaches Pontevedra and the city is a stop on the "Atlantic Line", running from the northern Galician city of A Coruña to Lisbon (Portugal). Likewise, Pontevedra will benefit from the high-speed train connecting Galicia and central Spain. That Galician connection will be fully operational in 2022.
Despite the fact that Pontevedra was once the main Galician port, at present the Pontevedra harbour is only used for recreational purposes, not for cargo or passenger transportation. Neighbouring Marín is a major military and commercial harbour 7 km away. The Pontevedra marina is close to the old town and the commercial and fishing port of Marín and Ria de Pontevedra, 5 kilometres west of the city centre.
Thanks to a remarkable old town, the surrounding landscape and its former medieval port, Pontevedra has been defined as a "charming city" and "an authentic Galician city". Tourist attractions include many religious and civil buildings as well as picturesque medieval squares.
The medieval squares of the old town of Pontevedra and those of its first urban expansion stand out as small rooms with regular and geometric proportions. Many of them evoke with their trade names the activities that took place centuries ago: Plaza of firewood, vegetables, the stone quarry, the blacksmith's, the quay...
Praza da Ferrería
Blacksmith's square is the main square of the city; it is the most popular because of the daily crowds. With arches in two of its ends, with the gardens of the Plaza of Orense and the Herrería fountain at the corner of the church and convent of St. Francis. It is lined with camellias typical of the Rias Baixas. It owes its name to the blacksmiths who, in the 15th century, tempered the iron in the ovens and forges of its arcades for the weapons and paving stones that the Catholic Monarchs had asked them to manufacture. It was the place where the Feira Franca was held, granted to the city by King Henry IV. Here you will find the historic Carabela coffee shop, and other traditional coffees such as Savoy.
Plaza de la Peregrina
In the heart of the pedestrian centre of Pontevedra, the Pilgrim Virgin Square is the city's main meeting point. It is presided over by the Church of the Pilgrim Virgin and was located outside the walls, very close to the Trabancas gate of the old Pontevedra wall. This is where the pillory where the prisoners were executed was located.
With perfect geometric dimensions and framed by orange trees, it is surrounded by noble buildings, with the 18th century Gago and Montenegro Palace standing out on the north side, where the great coat of arms of 1716 is to be seen on the façade. On the east side, overlooking Royal Street, there is a stone fountain with night lighting.
Praza da Leña
The Firewood Square is the most representative and picturesque typical Galician square in Galicia. With a calvary in its centre and popular houses with arcades on one side and the Baroque houses of the Pontevedra Museum on the other. It owes its name to the firewood that was sold here in the past to heat Pontevedra's kitchens.
Praza da Verdura
Regularly proportioned, on the Vegetables square there are houses with coats of arms and a 19th-century forge fountain. This is where the House of Light is located, which commemorates the fact that Pontevedra was the first Galician city to have electricity in the 19th century. Today it is the headquarters of the Pontevedra Tourist Office. The square is very lively, to which the atmosphere of the many Galician taverns and tapas bars contributes.
Praza da Pedreira
The Stone Quarry square is so called because of the stone-cutting activities developed here by stonemasons for the city's works and constructions. Also called Plaza of Mugartegui, because of the baroque mansion in its center.
Praza de Méndez Núñez
In the centre of the old town, there is the 15th century house with a stone coat of arms (showing the arms of the Lemos, Taboada and Bugarín) of Cru and Montenegro, which crosses Don Gonzalo Street with its pointed arch. In its centre is a bronze statue of Valle-Inclán, the work of the sculptor César Lombera. The sculpture is in this square because it was there that the writer used to meet other intellectuals when he lived in Pontevedra.
Praza de Curros Enríquez
Triangular square where you can admire the French attic of the house on the north side and one of the 19th century forge fountains.
Praza do Porto
The Quay Square is the name given to the docks of the medieval port of Pontevedra. There is a stone fountain in its centre and a 1930s house on the south side which now belongs to the official school of quantity surveyors.
Praza das Cinco Rúas
It is so called because it is where the two parts of Isabel II Street and Baron, Charino and San Nicolás Streets meet. Filled with tapas bars. It is worth noting the stone calvary of 1773, decorated at its base with a very expressive representation of the time when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and of the house in which the writer Valle-Inclán lived.
Praza de Santa María
In the Plaza of Santa Maria there is the Basilica of Santa Maria la Mayor in the background and a stone cross that was originally on the Burgo Bridge, the Mendoza Mansion and a typical 19th century forge fountain in the city. Underneath the square is the Interpretation Centre of the Archbishopric Towers which, until the 19th century, were located on the site currently occupied by the Mendoza Mansion.
Praza de España
Pontevedra main pedestrian square is the link between the old town and Alameda and the expansion of the official and administrative city of the 19th century (Provincial Council, Government Delegation, Valle-Inclán High School (modernist of the early 20th century) and the City Hall). It has two underground car parks.
Praza of San Xosé
It is in the square of St. Joseph that stands the monument to the Tertulia, a bronze monument, officially called the Literary Circle in Modern Coffee, recalling that Pontevedra was the cradle of Galician intellectuals in the early twentieth century, it is formed by several intellectuals drinking coffee. At the top of the former Pontevedra Savings Bank building is a large bronze sculpture, 6 metres high, of the Greek hero Teucer statue, the mythical founder of the city.
It is also remarkable the former sailors' quarter of "A Moureira" near Corbaceiras Avenue.
Pontevedra is the second largest city in Galicia in terms of green areas per square kilometre per capita.
The municipality also has three beaches: The beach of The Lérez, the beach of Placeres and the beach of Fontaíña.
The municipality has three beaches: the Lérez Beach, the Placeres Beach and the Fontaíña Beach. The Lérez Beach is opposite the Island of Sculptures park.
In the neighbouring municipalities, a few kilometres away, there are several Blue Flag beaches on both banks of the Ria de Pontevedra. On the southern shore are the beaches of Portocelo, Mogor or Aguete, as well as Lapamán. On the northern shore, Cabeceira is the closest, three kilometres from the city centre, and a little further away are the beaches of Raxó, Areas, Canelas, Montalvo, Pragueira and especially the famous La Lanzada, not far from La Toja Island and its luxury hotels and casino.
The Castiñeiras Lake is located 9 kilometres from the city. Around it there are large recreational areas with picnic areas, barbecues, fountains and children's playgrounds.
The city is the capital of the province of Pontevedra, and is therefore home to the provincial, autonomous and Central Government administrative bodies.
In the provincial aspect, the Diputación Provincial de Pontevedra stands out, which offers the municipalities of the province different services (fire extinction, sports,...) and is in charge of its government and administration.
On an autonomous level, the city has the Xunta de Galicia which, since the last reform of the Autonomous Administration, brings together the representation of all the areas of the Autonomous Government in Pontevedra. Since 2008, the Provincial Delegations of the Xunta de Galicia offer their services in a large central building presided over by two twin towers built in the Administrative City in María Victoria Moreno Avenue 43, which agglutinates most of the provincial delegations, except some such as that of Environment, Territory and Infrastructures, located in another building very close to the Xunta de Galicia in Alcalde Hevia street.
Representing the Central Government is the Subdelegation of the Government, the former Civil Government, functionally dependent on the Delegate of the Government in Galicia, located in the Plaza de España, as well as the location in the city of the peripheral services of the State (provincial departments of the different ministries such as the Defence Department, provincial service of Shorelines, Provincial Service of Agriculture and Fishing, Provincial Service of Telecommunications (the latter located in the old building of the Bank of Spain).
Pontevedra is also the capital provincial judicial district. It houses the headquarters of the Provincial Court of Pontevedra, where sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this collegiate body are to be found in the Palace of Justice. It also houses other provincial bodies dependent on the Ministry of the Interior such as the Provincial Traffic Headquarters, the Provincial Police Department, the Provincial Headquarters of the Civil Guard as the capital of the province.
Pontevedra is a provincial and comarcal (shire/county, with no administrative role) capital, as well as seat of the district court. The city hosts the headquarters of the provincial government as well as offices of the Galician government, in addition to offices representing the Spanish government. The city provides a wide range of administrative services with an effect reaching far beyond its municipal limits. This makes Pontevedra a focal point for intense political struggles. Since the restoration of democracy in 1977 after the dictatorship, Pontevedra's local government had traditionally been controlled by the conservative People's Party of Galicia (Partido Popular de Galicia, PPdeG-PP). However, after the 1999 elections the office of mayor was won by Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, representing the Galician Nationalist Bloc (Bloque Nacionalista Galego, BNG), in coalition with the Socialists' Party of Galicia (Partido Socialista de Galicia, PSdeG-PSOE), until today. The local corporation is divided into a number of departments, or concellarias, each one dealing with a specific issue such as Planning, Environment, Revenue, Mobility and Transportation, Sports, Public Works, or Tourism.
Results of the local elections in Pontevedra:
Pontevedra has traditionally been a trading city. In the Middle Ages, guilds thrived in the old town, giving name to streets and squares still preserved today. During the 16thC Pontevedra was the main Galician port, providing for a very intense fishing and sea-trading activity.
In the 1833 territorial division of Spain Galicia was sub-divided into four provinces, and Pontevedra became capital of its own province. The city then became an administrative and commercial centre, in contrast with Vigo, which attracted the industrial activity, after Franco's dictatorship gave this city a free-trade zone and a Development Pole. In fact, the first modern industries to appear in Pontevedra would only do so in the 1960s.
Currently, the tertiary sector employs 65 per cent of the population, while industry employs 17 per cent. Industrial activity is reduced to a handful of companies, namely pulp mills (where the municipal authority is seeking the closure of the ENCE biofactory) and construction. The tertiary sector is not especially dynamic, although a number of policies have been implemented to improve the situation. Tourism is increasing, with visitors coming mostly from Spain and Portugal. The total unemployment rate is 7% (June 2021), according to data from the Xunta de Galicia (Galician Government). Pontevedra was the seat of the Caixa de Pontevedra credit union, eventually merged into other entities up to the current Abanca.
The majority of Pontevedra's citizens work in the service sector, which is evident when one considers that the city is the head of an area of influence of some 210,000 inhabitants, which means the existence of an important and diversified commercial sector. To this must be added its privileged location in the centre of the Rias Baixas, which makes it a tourist city and gives an important specific weight to the hotel industry in the economy. The city ranks among the Spanish cities with the highest annual income.
As the capital of the province, Pontevedra has numerous offices, provincial offices and facilities of the different Public Administrations, in which a large number of civil servants work.
As the capital of the province of Pontevedra and the centre of the Rias Baixas, Pontevedra is the seat of numerous institutions and bodies that have their headquarters in the city. In addition to the Provincial Departments of state, autonomic and provincial organisms, many institutions are located in the city, like: the Provincial Headquarters of Traffic, the Regulatory Board denomination of origin "Rias Baixas" (Albariño wine), the State Public Library, the Provincial Historical Archive of Pontevedra, the Provincial Headquarters of Post and Telegraphs, the Postal Treatment Centre of Pontevedra, the Provincial Office of the Spanish Red Cross, the Provincial Department of the National Institute of Statistics and the Electoral Census Office, the Illustrious Official College of Doctors of Pontevedra, the Official College of Dentists and Stomatologists of Pontevedra and Orense, the Illustrious Provincial College of Lawyers of Pontevedra, the State Highways Unit in Pontevedra, the Galician Centre of Sports Technology for elite and high level sportsmen/woman, the Galicia Biological Mission, the Forest and Environmental Research Centre of Galicia and so on.
The city is the capital of the tourist region of the Rias Baixas. It is currently a reference urban destination in Europe for trips to cities eminently pedestrian and without cars that stand out for their quality of life, at the height of Dubrovnik, Copenhagen or Capri. In addition, tourism has increased in recent years, positioning the city as a pole of attraction in Galicia and north of Portugal, being currently one of the preferred urban destinations next to A Coruña or Santiago de Compostela.
Likewise, the city is a pole of attraction for international tourists thanks to its old town, the Ria de Pontevedra, the Lérez River and its bridges.
Pontevedra capital city is also the headquarters of the organization of trade fairs and congresses and especially of national and international sports events that also suppose an economic engine for the number of visitors that attract to the city. It also hosts conferences of special relevance in Galicia such as Culturgal, the fair of the cultural industries of Galicia.
The city is the centre of attraction in the central and northern part of the province of Pontevedra. There are many traditional shops, national and international franchises in the city centre and shopping centres such as Carrefour Planet, La Barca and Vialia on the outskirts. The city is also home to e-commerce companies such as the company specializing in the sale of books and publishing products imosver.com.
The city is home to one of the most important publishing houses in Galicia, Kalandraka. Others also focus their activity in the metropolitan area of Pontevedra, such as Cumio Publishing and the headquarters of the important chain of Nobel Bookstores.
In the municipality of Pontevedra and its metropolitan area of Pontevedra there are several industrial estates, as well as other companies located in other parts of the municipality.
On the outskirts of the city and bordering the neighbouring municipality of Ponte Caldelas is O Campiño industrial estate, which houses important industries such as automobile auxiliaries among others, but which has remained insufficient in terms of space in the face of the demand for land by companies. There is also, although it is smaller, the recently enlarged "A Granxa do Bao" industrial estate, although this is more aimed at commercial than industrial purposes, with mechanical workshops, gymnasiums, a large area dedicated to do-it-yourself, etc. In the industrial estate O Campiño there are important companies in the automobile sector such as Aludec, which has 6 production centres (Galvanic 1 and 2, Components, Stamping and Injection 1 and 2).
The exhaustion of the soil of industrial estate O Campiño and the lack of development of more industrial land in the municipality of Pontevedra has led to the development of estates in areas of metropolitan area of Pontevedra such as Ponte Caldelas, Barro-Meis, Poio or Marín. The A Reigosa industrial estate, in the municipality of Ponte Caldelas, is particularly noteworthy for its development in recent years.
A very important point of settlement of several companies within metropolitan area of Pontevedra is the area of Port of Marín and Ria de Pontevedra.
Within the municipality of Pontevedra there are also other important companies among which the distribution company Froiz stands out. (supermarkets, hypermarkets). Other renowned ones are, among others, Setga. exterior lighting company design, signage and street furniture, chosen to illuminate the center of Amsterdam, Hifas da Terra, innovation and ecology company focused primarily on mycology, Krack (a shoemaking company) or EDF dedicated to photovoltaic energy.
The city is also the center of construction companies such as San José or Balboa and Buceta.
Pontevedra is well provided with quality private (like Quirón Hospital) and public clinics and health centres, where the Montecelo Hospital stands out as the largest health centre in the comarca and one of the largest in the province. This hospital is renowned for its oncology department. Public health is regulated by the Galician Health Service (Servizo Galego de Saúde). The University Hospital Complex of Pontevedra (CHOP) includes the Pontevedra Provincial Hospital founded in 1897 and located in the centre of the city and the Montecelo Hospital created in 1973 and located in the parish of Mourente; apart from other centres. There are also private hospitals of Quirónsalud such as the Hospital Quirónsalud Miguel Domínguez, founded as Hospital Domínguez in 1947, in Fray Juan de Navarrete street or the Institute of Neuro-Rehabilitation Quirónsalud Pontevedra. There are also health centres of Quirón Salud, Adeslas and Vithas in Pontevedra: the Quirónsalud Pontevedra Medical Centre, the Quirónsalud Pontevedra Rehabilitation Centre, the Adeslas Pontevedra Medical Centre and the Vithas Rehabilitation Centre.
The Health Department of the Xunta de Galicia projected for Pontevedra and the sanitary area of the north of its province the Monte Carrasco Hospital located to the south of the city in the parish of Tomeza., project that was subsequently replaced by political disagreements with the city council of the capital by the extension of a new hospital in Montecelo, taking as name this project the Gran Montecelo. This hospital will extend the assistance offer of the capital of the province and the northern area of the province with six new specialties: Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine, Hemodynamics complementary to Cardiology, Maxillofacial surgery, Neonatal ICU and Pediatric ICU, both integrated in the Maternal and Infant area. It will have a capacity of 724 beds.
The city houses a number of university departments in the Pontevedra Campus, acting as a branch of the University of Vigo, which have campuses in the cities of Pontevedra, Ourense and Vigo. Namely these are: Advertising, Nursing, Physiotherapy, forestry Technical Engineering, Fashion, Educational Sciences and Sport, and Social, Media and Communication Sciences. Many come to Pontevedra to complete their studies in Fine arts, as this is the only location in Galicia where this discipline can be studied at university level. In addition, Pontevedra has the Higher School of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage of Galicia, located in the San Fernando building in the centre of the city, as well as the Faculty of Fine Arts. The city also has the only school of Comic and Illustration in Galicia (private), called O garaxe hermético (the airtight garage).
Pontevedra also hosts a branch of the Spanish national distance university, the UNED university where students can pursue numerous university studies. The city has its own Official School of Languages, regulated by the Galician Department of Education where students can study English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Galician.
The city is home to the Pontevedra Museum, one of the 3 best provincial museums in Spain. It consists of six buildings:
In addition, in 2010 the authorities inaugurated the Archiepiscopal Towers Interpretation Centre (CITA): an underground museum, underneath the Avenida Santa Maria, where the remains of the ancient Archiepiscopal Towers can be seen.
Cultural infrastructure in Pontevedra is mainly represented by two venues: The Teatro Principal, in the old town, with a capacity of 434 seated spectators; and the Auditorium-Congress Hall, a modern complex composed by an auditorium with capacity for 772 seated people, a large congress hall, and a number of meeting rooms and smaller halls.
It also has the Afundación auditorium near the Campolongo district with more than 800 seats and concert halls such as the Karma Hall or alternative music and culture halls like the Liceo Mutante.
The city is home to the Pontevedra State Public Library and other libraries such as the Pontevedra Museum Library, which is mainly dedicated to researchers, and university libraries such as the Central Library of the Pontevedra Campus and the UNED Library.
In addition, every year the City Council organises a series of free, open and public activities, such as a Jazz festival, open air cinema sessions, a medieval fair reenactment, the Feira Franca and other festivities that normally take place in the streets and public squares of the old town.
The Pontevedra Conservatory was established in 1863 and is celebrating its sesquicentenary in 2013. It has been renamed the Conservatorio Profesional de Música Manuel Quiroga, in honour of one of the city's most famous sons, the violinist, composer and artist Manuel Quiroga (1892–1961).
Pontevedra has two daily newspapers: the Diario de Pontevedra, the oldest newspaper in the city still in circulation, and Pontevedra Viva, an online newspaper. The city also has a specific edition of the main Galician newspaper, La Voz de Galicia.
RTVE, the Spanish Public Radio and television, and CRTVG, the Galician Public Radio and television, broadcast local editions in their news programmes. Between 1994 and 2012, Pontevedra had a local TV station, Localia Pontevedra.
Most of the national radio stations broadcast their programmes in the Pontevedra area, including Radio Nacional de España, Cadena SER, Cadena COPE, Onda Cero and Punto Radio.
Pontevedra has a long sporting tradition, with a number of teams competing professionally in different categories. For example:
Pontevedra is the seat of the Centro Galego de Tecnificación Deportiva (High Performance Sporting Centre of Galicia), and it also hosts a number of rowing and canoeing clubs. World and Olympic canoeing champion David Cal used to train in the ria of Pontevedra.
Pontevedra is twinned with
An ancient town and medieval port, Pontevedra has been described as a "definitive old Galician town". Sights include the pilgrim chapel in the Praza da Peregrina, the historic Zona Monumental (old city), the Praza de Leña, the market, and the Alameda, a promenade along the ria. Pontevedra has a large pedestrian centre (the old town and surroundings) which, together with a number of parks and public squares, makes the city very pleasant for strolling. In recent years most historical buildings and streets have been either re-built or revamped, providing for a well preserved urban landscape.
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