The Arnoia river, young and crystalline, crosses the small and beautiful city of Allariz. Legend says that it was the Swabian king Alarico who chose this beautiful bend of the river to establish the city.
After being a defensive landmark of the south of Orense –in the 11th century they built the castle and its walls, today in ruins– the town became famous for its literary court and it was the place the kings were educated and crowned. Allariz had then its moment of splendor. They built magnificent buildings, churches and monasteries and they established prosperous tanneries, workshops and factories that produced, with the water of Arnoia as its motor, excellent fabrics, leathers and cereals.
At the end of the 15th century, Allariz lost its royal aura and it remained enclosed for centuries, buried in frequent wars with Portugal.
Times passed and it had no mercy on the city. However, a few years ago, the people from the city started great projects that included reducing the river’s pollution and restoring the historical part of town. The hard work was rewarded: in 1994, Allariz received the European Price for Urbanism.
Today, the small city is full of surprises. Its narrow streets, covered with churches and noble houses, maintain a sleepy air of another time; its amazing museums and old mills are very interesting and pleasant to see; its tapas bars, chocolate shops and pastry shops and a real temptation.
For any time of the day, be it happy, romantic or melancholic, there is the bucolic “Paseo ribereño do Arnado”, with the magical medieval bridge emerging from between the willows.
This is the thermal, mineral water area of the city. The water temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Celsius. It was once used by the Romans. The entrance fee is 3 euros and you can buy your ticket at the Tourist Office, located at Rua Burgas, 16. It's to the right of the baths.
My stay in the Baths of Outariz was pretty special because it meant that I could revisit a Japanese onsen. The Japanese style is very accomplished, to the point that the logo is used in Japan to mark thermal areas on maps. There are also many Japanese allegories in the decoration and even transcribed Japanese posters. Yes, you do have to wear a bathing suit.
Ever since the Romans built the first bridge over the river Minho in Ourense, it has taken nearly 2000 years to build another of similar impact and one that has such good views over the city, the river Minho and its surroundings. In this stretch of the river Minho which passes through the city of Ourense, you can admire more than 2000 years of history of engineering and architecture in the construction of large bridges. A bridge is not being built in this area where the new AVE line will pass over. Visiting the bridges are easy, some are even for pedestrian use only. There are also footpaths on both sides of the river. Its the most modern tourist attraction in the area, and both day and night it acts as a lookout over the city, the other bridges and the river.
This is one of the springs in Ourense. I was just walking my dog when I saw the nighttime lights on the Miño River with an access by footbridge to the hot springs at the bottom of Outariz. I put my camera above the baths so it would be protected. I hope you like the photo. The baths are unbeatable, such a relaxing experience.
The Cathedral of San Martin (San Martino as the Galicians fondly call it) is, in my humble opinion, the most impressive monument in Orense. It is primarily Romanesque (the three door are clearly Romanesque cathedral), but has touches of different styles. The exterior is a wonder to look at, especially the western gate (the main gate). Unfortunately I couldn't go inside because they were giving Mass, but at least I'll have an excuse to go back soon.
Since Ourense has been dubbed the "spa capital" par excellence, we thought we'd try the so-called "thermal route" according to the brochure we got at the tourist information office, but the truth is that this route seemed like a trick for tourists. The entire route is a footpath of about 8 km in length, although you can cycle or take the train to the hot springs. According to the brochure, you walk through the different springs, fountains, pools and spas that are on the right bank of the Miño, but the reality is that the road is nothing but dust (the road is compacted dirt) and maybe a little vegetation and a river. Come on, it's not a "tourist path", but simply a path leading to the thermal springs. You ca swim there, they are free and are definitely worth seeing.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful and significant cathedrals in Ourense. It's the Gate of Paradise, whose construction was inspired by the Portico de la Gloria on the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It lies on the western facade of the temple, up a monumental staircase. Built in the 13th century, it consists of three large double arches profusely decorated and painted, supported by columns and statues representing prophets and apostles. There are conflicting representations between good and evil, or the blessed and the damned. The northern arch is decorated with floral motifs, the southern arc symbolizes the final judgment, with Christ the Judge and the Archangel Michael. In the central arch, there are the 24 elders of the Revelation (a product of the 18th century renovation, showing the primitive Romanesque). The whole is flanked by two baroque altars, one dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the other to the martyr San Francisco Blanco. The middle column has the image of St. James seated an iron sword in his right hand and an open book resting on his knees.