Rias Bajas Attractions
The long inlets which cut into the coast north and south of Vigo are known as the Rías Bajas, the Lower Rías. The coastal landscape is less rugged than in the Rías Altas. The inhabitants live mainly by fishing, but the summer tourist traffic to the seaside resorts is becoming increasingly important.
North of Vigo
C 550 continues north to the Ría de Pontevedra. 7km/4.5mi along its south side is the naval base and shipbuilding town of Marín, which has a picturesque old fishing quarter.
The road passes through Pontevedra and round the ría to the seaside resort of Sangenjo (Galician Sanxenxo), from which a detour can be made to the former spa (thermal springs) of La Toja, one of the most attractive little towns on the northern Atlantic coast of Spain, magnificently situated at the tip of a promontory.
From Cambados, C 550 continues along the Ría de Arosa to Padrón, at the mouth of the Río Ulla. It was here, according to legend, that the ship carrying the body of the Apostle St James (Santiago) was miraculously brought to land. Beneath the high altar of the church of Santiago, which occupies the site of earlier Romanesque and Gothic churches, is a large stone to which the ship is said to have been moored.
Mirador de la Curota
From Padrón the road runs along the north side of the ría to the Mirador de la Curota, from which there are views of all the Rías Bajas.
A secondary road leads northwest from Padrón to Noya, a little port which was known in antiquity as Noega. In the 12th century the town was surrounded by a massive circuit of walls, now largely destroyed; but Noya still preserves something of a medieval atmosphere, with a number of very handsome mansions such as the Casa de los Churruachos and the Palacio Peña de Oro and several old churches, the most interesting of which are San Martín (15th C.), with a richly sculptured facade and a fine rose window, and Santa María Nova, with a churchyard containing over 200 graves, some of them very old.
C 550 continues from Noya round the Ría de Muros y Noya to the little fishing port of Muros, where the catches are mostly of sardines. A stroll through the charming quarters of A Cerca and A Xesta will reveal many of the typical old Galician houses with glazed balconies.
South of Vigo
From Vigo, C 550 leads south past the fishing port of Bouzas and then bears southwest, running close to the Ría de Vigo. A narrow road turns off on the right to the seaside resort of Panjón, beyond which, on a promontory, is a memorial to the dead of the Spanish merchant fleet.
The road crosses a bridge spanning the inlet at the mouth of the Río Muiño (Galician Muinho) and comes to Bayona, a beautifully situated little port town which is now a popular seaside resort. Bayona was the first town to hear of the discovery of America, when the "Pinta" put in here in 1493 after its transatlantic voyage. From the walls of the 16th century Castillo Monte Real, now a parador, there are breathtaking views of the sea. Near the Romanesque/Gothic collegiate church (12th-13th C.) is a beautiful park centered on a granite figure of the Virgin.
Farther down the rocky coast from Bayona is Oya, with the Benedictine monastery of Santa María la Real, in transitional Romanesque/Gothic style. It has an interesting 16th century cloister and a facade of 1740.
Monte Santa Tecla
South of La Guardia, at the tip of a promontory, is Monte Santa Tecla. Here, on the wooded hillside, a large settlement was discovered in 1913 which had been inhabited by a Celtic tribe from 500 B.C. to the first century A.D. and was then occupied by the Romans. It is estimated that there were more than 1,000 round stone huts with thatched roofs on the site, two of which have been reconstructed. There is a small museum displaying finds from the different periods of occupation.