The Romans, who also took a stroll through Galician lands a couple millennia ago, had two good reasons to love Ourense.
The first one, the gold. It seems that in the basin of the River Miño there was a lot of gold at that time, and there are many who believe that the name of the city comes precisely from the coveted and shiny metal which in Spanish is called “oro”.
The second one, the springs of warm and mineral-medicinal water that flowed in the place. Few things pleased the Romans more than to set up good thermal baths and, while at it, some sanctuaries dedicated to the divinities of the waters and fountains. This was the perfect place to do it, and two thousand years later, the As Burgas thermal complexes are still the hallmark of Ourense and the main reason for its fame inside and outside our borders.
And where there is a river and where there were Romans, there is usually a bridge or its remains at least. What they call here Puente Viejo, Old Bridge, has been standing since the first century, and although today it looks more medieval, it remains one of the indisputable emblems of the city.
Another icon of Ourense is the Cathedral, an imposing Romanesque temple erected between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and dedicated to Saint Martin. Legend has it that in the same place there was already a church in honour of this saint, to whom the Suevic King Chararich would have thanked in this way for the healing of his son, sick with leprosy.
The Ramiro Castle was also built in those centuries. It was on a hill that dominated the city, and from it, the Ourense bishops could control everything that entered, left and moved around the area. Unfortunately, there is nothing left of the fortress because the Catholic Monarchs destroyed it during one of their peace campaigns. As you can imagine, those campaigns weren’t about giving away love, chocolates and good wishes despite the name.
Taking a stroll through the historic centre of Ourense you will reach the beautiful Plaza Mayor, which is said to be the only one in Europe whose ground is so clearly inclined. You can stop at the bars and taverns in the area but remember to save a little time to visit the old convent of San Francisco. There you will find one of the most marvellous medieval cloisters in Galicia, and that, believe us, is a lot to say.