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Dic 01

Ourense, Different and Relaxing

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As seen in Wikipedia:

History

The origin of the town can be traced to the Romans and the presence of hot springs called the Burgas. These can still be seen today. There was also the need to fortify the place to protect one of the easiest ways to cross the Miño River. After the Romans, Ourense was part of the Suebi (Suevi) kingdom during most of the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries and was destroyed by the Moors in 716. It was later rebuilt by Alfonso III of Asturias about 877. The Norse invasions as well as attacks from the Arab warlord Al-Mansur once more laid the city to waste. It was only under Sancho II and his sister Doña Elvira that the city was resettled during 11th century. The definitive urban impulse did not arrive until the 12th century when Ourense became an important center of services. Recently the city has made many efforts to provide new parks, bridges, fountains and geothermal springs installations to make the city more attractive.

Geography and geothermal springs

The ancient city of Auria is located on both banks of the Minho (Miño) River in the south-central part of Galicia, at an elevation of 128 m above sea level.

Four rivers cross the town: Miño (the main river), Barbaña, Loña and Barbañica. The biggest river divides a rather industrial western suburb, which contains the railroad station, from the main town. Three highway and one railroad bridge cross the river in addition to the famous Roman bridge, Ponte Vella, which is now closed to vehicle traffic. The town is surrounded by forests, mainly oak and pine.

One of the main tourist attractions is related to hot springs, as Ourense holds one of the greatest amount of geothermal water in Europe. There are several places called pozas, with or without entrance fee, where you can have a bath outdoors. One of them is located inside the old town, relating to the ancient Roman tradition, as ruins of a Roman bath were discovered and are now open to visitors. There are more hot springs located along the river Miño: A Chavasqueira, Manantial-bouvette do Tinteiro, Burga do Muíño, Burgas de Outariz, which offer baths at different temperatures, ranging from 36 – 60 degrees Celsius.

CLIMATE

The city has a microclimate that brings abundant rainfall and allows for verdant vegetation on the nearby hills. Winters are mild with lows rarely falling below zero degrees Celsius. Because of the location in the river valley summers can be quite hot, often equalling temperatures of Andalucia. Many local families have apartments on the coast (Vigo is only an hour away by car) where they can enjoy the ocean in July and August. Ourense’s average temperature in summer months is around 30 °C (86 °F) whereas Vigo is only 24 °C (75 °F) and A Coruña 22 °C (72 °F), demonstrating the vast differences caused by its inland position. This renders Ourense to have a mediterranean climate, in spite of its proximity to the wet oceanic climate experienced by coastal Galicia

 

SIGHTS

Although mainly a town of services, Ourense is not without its tourist sites. The town has three parts: the medieval, the area of 19th-century expansion, and the modern perimeter. Many who pass by on the highway linking Madrid to Vigo are unaware of the medieval quarter, with its narrow streets and tiny plazas. Once an area of a certain dilapidated charm the area is now undergoing renovation and is full of typical restaurants and bars patronized by the university students of the town. The Plaza Mayor is the center of city life with its arcaded shops and the Town Hall.

The Cathedral is the most important monument in Ourense. This cathedral (founded 572; rebuilt in the 13th century) is the second oldest in Galicia. It occupies the same site as the Suevian basilica that stood there in earlier times. Romanesque in structure, but with a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles, it is rather hidden away but, contains a façade with the Door of Paradise in imitation of the Door of Glory of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Inside, the Capilla del Cristo, or Christ’s Chapel (16th century), contains a crucifix venerated throughout Galicia.

The Miño is crossed at Ourense by the Ponte Vella (Old Bridge). With Roman foundations, it was reconstructed by Bishop Lorenzo in 1230 but frequently repaired since then; it has seven arches and a central span of 141 feet (43 m)