According to SMARTERCOMPUTING, the city of Ourense is the capital of the province of the same name in Galicia. It is located on the banks of the Minho River. Ourense was founded by the Romans about 2000 years ago. The stone bridge thrown over the Minho River, which is now a symbol of the city, reminds of those distant times. Naturally, the original Roman bridge, built during the reign of Gaius Julius Caesar, has not survived to this day. The current bridge was rebuilt in the 13th-17th centuries; only a few stones at its base have survived from the Roman construction. Old city Ourense centered around the 12th and 13th century Cathedral of San Martinho. Here you will see the Portal of Glory of the 13th century, modeled on the portal of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the 16th century altarpiece by Cornelles de Holanda, the 16th century chapel of Santa Cristo by Juan de Herrera, which houses the crucifix of the 14th century, the clock tower, which was attached in the 16th century, and the Gothic cloister, which houses the cathedral museum. The main city square Plaza Mayor, framed by arcades, adjoins the Cathedral. Here rises the 19th century City Hall building, whose facade is topped with balconies, coats of arms and clocks. Nearby is the Bishop’s Palace of the 12th century, which now houses the Archaeological Museum. The museum presents finds from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages and an art gallery. Around the Plaza Mayor is park of thermal springs Las Burgasdiscovered by the Romans. The fountains and baths of the park were built in the 17th-19th centuries. The water temperature of the springs reaches +67 degrees. Also in Ourense, it is worth looking at the 16th century Oca Valladares Palace, on whose facade you can see the coats of arms of noble Galician families, the 18th century Santa Maria Madre church, which was built on the site of an older 11th century temple, the 14th century San Francisco Monastery, whose cloister with 63 arches is considered one of the most beautiful in Galicia, and the Church of Santa Eufemia (17th-18th century).
In the vicinity of Ourense, along the banks of the Miño River, there are several baths replenished with water from hot springs. Most of them are open to the public 24 hours a day and there is no charge for bathing. You can experience the healing power of the local waters by going to one of the spa resorts surrounding Ourense. There are about ten of them in the province. Diseases of the cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory and nervous systems, kidneys and skin diseases are treated here. In the treatment, local bicarbonate-sodium and sulfate-sodium waters are used, with a high content of fluorine, lithium and radon.
At the western border of the province of Ourense, along the banks of the Miño River, lies the Ribero wine region, which produces some of the finest Spanish dry white wines. The center of the region is the city of Ribadavia. (Ribadavia). Every year in late April-early May, one of the most colorful wine festivals in Galicia is held here. Since the Middle Ages, the Jewish community, one of the largest in Galicia, has been producing wine in these parts. In the 15th century, most of the Jews who did not want to accept Christianity were expelled. However, the Jewish Quarter, which is one of the main attractions of the city, has been perfectly preserved in Ribadavia to this day. He concentrated at Magdalena Square. There are many ancient churches in the vicinity of the Jewish Quarter, among which the pre-Romanesque church of San Gines de Francelos of the 9th century, the Romanesque church of Santiago and the Gothic monastery of Santo Domingo stand out. 13th century. Also interesting in Ribadavia are the half-ruined Sarmiento fortress of the 15th century and the Ethnographic Museum, which tells about the culture and main crafts of the province of Ourense. In the vicinity of Ribadavia there are many “bodegas” (wineries) where you can taste the world-famous wine and get acquainted with the process of its production. Within the Ribeo wine region is the city of Carballino (O Carballino), where, in addition to the “bodegas”, the monumental temple of Veracruz is interesting, which is a mixture of Byzantine, pre-Romanesque, Romanesque and Gothic styles, and numerous thermal springs, on the basis of which spa centers are open.
Another attraction of the province of Ourense is the city of Allaris. (Allariz), which is located just south of the city of Ourense on the banks of the Arnoia River. The city is like a vast park where ancient churches and palaces are surrounded by oaks and chestnuts. In Allaris, it is worth seeing the Romanesque churches of Santiago, Santo Estebo, San Pedro and Santa Marina (12th-13th century), the monastery of Santa Clara (13th century) and the Villanova (15th century) and Freira (18th century) bridges, which thrown across the river Arnoia.
In the southwestern part of the province of Ourense, on the border with Portugal, on an area of 209 sq. km stretches Baia Lima Sierra do Jures Natural Park (Baixa Limia-Serra do Xures nature reserve). The park is interesting because two natural zones meet here: the zone of mixed and broad-leaved forests and the Mediterranean zone. Hiking trails are laid in the park, which can be overcome on foot, by bicycle or on horseback. Here you will see mountain landscapes, dense forests, rivers and waterfalls.
In the heart of the province of Ourense stretches the Central mountain range. Here is the Natural Park of Invernadeiro (O Invernadeiro nature reserve), which is famous for its numerous waterfalls. In order to go on a trip to the park, you must obtain permission. Nearby, surrounded by dense forests, is the only ski resort in Galicia – Manzaneda.
In the northeast of the province of Ourense, on the border with the province of León , the Sierra da Encina da Lastra nature reserve is of interest. The Encina da Lastra mountain range is composed of limestone rocks and dotted with dozens of caves, where some of the largest colonies of bats in Spain settle. In addition, the park is home to many birds of prey.
The border between the provinces of Ourense and Lugo runs along the river Sil. The power of the waters of the Sil River has formed here a 200-kilometer canyon, whose walls reach a height of 500 m. Tourists are offered excursion trips on catamarans along some sections of the canyon, during which one can appreciate the scale of this unique natural object. In addition to the picturesque landscapes, these places are known for dozens of medieval monasteries, for which this area received the name Ribeira Sacra (“Sacred River”). You can get to the monasteries along hiking trails and narrow country roads passing through dense forests. The most popular among tourists is the largest monastery of the San Esteban region (now it houses a chic hotel) and the monastery of Santa Cristina with the observation deck Balcones de Madrid (both monasteries are located near the village of Nogueira de Ramuin); the convent of Santa Maria in Montederramo, where a school is now open; the oldest chapel of Galicia, San Pedro de Rocas in Tarreirijo, carved directly into the rock; convent of Las Madres Bernardas; as well as the ruins of the monasteries of San Payo de Abelada and Junqueira de Espadanedo. In addition, be sure to visit the medieval town of Monforte de Lemos, where a 10th century monastery, an ancient Roman bridge and several churches have been preserved. It is worth noting that Ribeira Sacra is famous not only for its nature and religious architecture, but also for its vineyards. This is the only wine region in Galicia that specializes in the production of red wines.