The capital of the only land-locked province in Galicia, Ourense is a city with centuries of history. It was an important settlement during Roman times because of its location and because it was the ideal place to cross the River Miño. The famous Puente Viejo (Old Bridge) dates back to those times, and although it has been rebuilt many times since then it is still the focal point of the city.
During the Middle Ages it also played a
fundamental role, particularly during the period of Swabian rule.
It was resettled by Alfonso III, thus initiating a new phase of
development with construction on its cathedral, its most important
building, beginning at the end of the twelfth century. Several
maestros, from various places and schools, took part in the work,
lending it a rather peculiar appearance. The Pórtico del
Paraíso, a Gothic work reminiscent of the Pórtico
de la Gloria in Santiago, has not always received the praise it
deserves. The sumptuous Capilla del Santo Cristo, an important
place of prayer, opens at the transept of the cathedral to form
one of the most superb Baroque ensembles in Galicia.
There were frequent violent clashes in the city at the end of the Middle Ages, in contrast to the peace and quiet which is so typical of life in the Ourense of today, a calm which is only very rarely disturbed. Its attractive streets, squares and gardens are lined by various
buildings of interest with the Gothic church and cloister of San Francisco and the churches of La Trinidad, Santa Eufemia and Santa María la Madre prominent among them. The old Palacio Episcopal, with medieval ruins, is the home to a large museum housing fascinating archaeological collections.
Las Burgas, the hot springs whose origins have been the subject of some debate, are outstanding and the waters there reach temperatures of around seventy degrees centigrade.
Today, Ourense is a thriving city, a communications and service centre, which also has a promising industrial future centred around the Technology Park,.