WildGalicia

Baiona

Baiona: Arrival of the message from America

What a change this town has undergone… From being almost entirely a fishing village, it has now become one of the most important tourist centres in Galicia.

Perhaps one of its main attractions was that day in 1942, when the Caravela Pinta arrived in this port to announce Columbus’ discovery of America.

Moreover, it is a town of contrasts: green fields, blue waters on the beaches, cobbled streets in the historic centre…

This town is crossed by the so-called Portuguese Coastal Way, a route that was used by pilgrims coming from the western part of Portugal or even by pilgrims who arrived in Portuguese ports from other countries and from there continued their journey to Santiago de Compostela.

Recommendations: 

Pinta Caravel.  For the 5th Centenary of the Discovery of America, a replica of the Pinta Caravel was built in Baiona and moored in the port area. In 1999 this caravel was reconditioned and can be visited today.

Virgin of the Rock.  This is a representation of the Virgin holding a boat in her right hand that acts as a lookout point, which can be reached by a spiral staircase carved inside the body of the Virgin. It is the work of Antonio Palacios. It is built on the rocks of Mount Samson. The material used is granite, except for the face and hands, which are made of white marble, and the crown, which is made of porcelain. It is 15 metres high and was inaugurated in 1930.

Old quarter. This is an old quarter that has been declared a Site of Historic and Artistic Interest. A number of narrow, cobbled streets with arcades and noble houses.

Monterreal Fortress. This is a fortress located on Monte de o Boi. There are 3 kilometres of crenellated walls dating from the 11th to the 17th century. It houses the Parador de Turismo Condes de Gondomar.

Nearby places:

Cape Silleiro and its abandoned military batteries.

Outeiro dos Lameiros archaeological site (4 Kms, 220 metres of positive slope; 1 hour walk).

ZEC of the Ramallosa (3 Kms; 40 minutes walking. Following Camino de Santiago).

Nearby QRs:

Espacio de la Ramallosa

More information at:

Tourist Office (Baiona)

Websites of interest:

https://www.riasbaixas.info/baiona.html

http://www.turismodebaiona.com/

Further information:

A seaside town with a marked tourist character located in the area of the Rías Bajas, in the south of the province of Pontevedra.

The place is a perfect enclave in which to grow a village, due to the protection provided by the Bay of Baiona (within the Vigo estuary), an ideal place for boats to stop after a day’s fishing.

According to several authors, its name comes from the name Abobriga, which may have been given to it in 140 BC.  Diomedes of Aetolia, son of Prince Tydeus, founder of Tui. 

Between the years 730 and 750, the town was dominated by the Arabs, who lost possession of it to King Alfonso I. Later (in 997), King Almanzor also managed to conquer the town.

In 1201, King Alfonso IX of León signed a Town Charter in the Cíes Islands, granting Erizana the name of Bayona and granting its inhabitants important privileges and privileges for maritime trade. In this way, it ceased to depend on the lordship of the monastery of Oia.

In 1331, during the war between the kingdoms of Castile and Portugal, it was attacked by the fleet led by the Portuguese admiral Pezaña.

One of the episodes that could have changed the history of Galicia occurred in 1388, when the British Duke of Lancaster arrived in A Coruña with an army to conquer the throne of Castile. He managed to take A Coruña, Compostela, Pontevedra and Vigo. Motuax, marshal of his army, also managed to reach the gate of Baiona with his 1,000 archers and managed, without spilling a drop of blood, to get the authorities to surrender.

These wars ruined Baiona, which did not revive again until the 15th century. In 1425, King Juan II decided that A Coruña and Baiona would be the only Galician ports where goods from abroad could be unloaded, which gave the town its strength back.

In 1474 it was attacked by Pedro Álvarez de Soutomaior (Pedro Madruga), who built a Tower-House on the peak of Monte Boi, which still stands today as part of the current Parador de Turismo.

One year later, the inhabitants of Baiona took sides with Alfonso V, King of Portugal, in his fight against the Catholic Monarchs. The monarch and the people of Baiona, sheltered in the fortress of Monte Boi, decided to surrender.

But perhaps the most important date in the history of Baiona is 1 March 1493: on that day, the Pinta Caravel, commanded by Martín Alonso Pinzón and piloted by Cristóbal García Sarmiento, arrived in its port. Baiona thus became the first town in Europe to have news of the discovery of America.

In 1497, the Catholic Monarchs granted the inhabitants of Baiona numerous privileges and ordered them to live within the enclosure of the fortress of Monte Boi, which from then on would take the name of Monte Real. Among the privileges granted to the 650 inhabitants were exemption from serving in the Castilian Navy and licence to wage corsair warfare on their own. The King and Queen also granted Baiona the titles of Noble and Loyal Villa.

In the 16th century, the town grew behind its port, but difficult times followed the arrival of a French fleet of 56 ships that attacked its port and an epidemic that reduced its population.

In 1585 the English pirate Francis Drake, in command of 1500 men, attacked the fortress, but the population of the region, ordered by the then Count of Gondomar, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña. An army of 17,000 soldiers was concentrated in the bay, with the aim of defeating the pirates who were marauding the Galician coast.

In 1823, Baiona ceased to exercise its jurisdiction over Val Miñor and its influence was reduced to a municipal district. In 1859 a Royal Order ordered the end of Monterreal as a military fortress and in 1872 the State announced its sale by public auction. It was acquired in 1877 by José Elduayen, Marquis of the Pazo de la Merced. In 1880 Manuel Misa y Bertemati, Count of Baiona, gave the Town Hall a building that would be used as a public school.

In 1943 the current town hall was inaugurated, installed in the historic “Casa de Correa”, acquired the year before by the Town Council. In 1966, the castle of Monterreal began to serve as a Parador Nacional de Turismo, after the State acquired it in 1963 from the heirs of Bedriñana. In 1974, the Ministry of Labour established the 1st of March, the day of the Arrival of the Pinta, as an official local holiday.

Festivals:

-The Fiesta de la Arribada: This is undoubtedly the star of all the fiestas in this place. The 1st of March commemorates the arrival of the Pinta caravel in the port of Baiona with the news of the discovery of America. A mediaeval festival is held in the streets of the old quarter and the surrounding promenades, offering the craft products that were consumed in the 15th century. Musicians, minstrels, jugglers and craftsmen take to the streets during these days to relive the event. Since 2015, the Fiesta de la Arribada has been considered of “International Tourist Interest”.

-Santa Liberata: This religious festival is held on 20 July in honour of the Virgin and martyr of the 2nd century, daughter of Baiona, born of the fertilising power that the waters of the crystal-clear spring granted to her mother, wife of the Roman governor of Galicia and Lusitania.

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