Ourense – Orense

City of burgas and bridges

Ourense has incredible hot springs and natural spas with temperature between 64 and 68 Celsius degrees. Ourense also has a lot of beautiful bridges on the Miño river and interesting monuments and museums.

Plan your stay in Ourense

Ourense has an interesting old town and some interesting monuments and museums that you can visit in one day. You can spend another day  -or some hours during the weekend- enjoying its different outdoors hot springs and natural spas. An excellent option for a complete day excursion is going to Baiza Limia Serra dos Xurés Narutal Park by taking the road OU 540. If you want to enjoy a medieval environment you can take the highway A52 towards south to visit Allariz. We have two specialized pages where you can see where to eat and sleep in Ourense.  

Do you want to visit this place?

Ourense is divided in two parts by the river Miño: the city center and the Neighborhood A Ponte (of the bridge). Around the Miño channel, there are several kilometres of fluvial walks and its numerous bridges are one of the most outstanding views of the city. The old town is the most recommendable place to visit in Ourense, it is of medieval epoch and its neuralgic point is the cathedral, its squares and nearby monuments.

The San Martín Cathedral (middle of the 12th-13th centuries) is the principal religious monument of the city and one of the most surprising Romanesque buildings that we can find in Galicia. It preserves part of its primitive strengthened structure. The Cathedral is assigned to the late Romanesque. On its origin, it was a three naves building with transept and head with a triple apse. The naves have simple rib vaults and pointed arches that rest on cruciform pillars with attached semicolumns. Over the transept a spectacular Gothic dome, constructed between 1499 and 1505, rises. In the north part is located the Santo Cristo Chapel, Ourense’s tourist unavoidable attraction. The moribund Christ Gothic image that is situated in the baroque altarpiece, brought by order of the bishop Perez Mariño and made, according to the legend, by Nicodemus. It is one of the emblems of the city. A curious miracle took place in it. It seems to be that its hair grows up to the feet, people in charge of maintenance of the cathedral have to cut its hair. You should also visit the Museum of Ourense Cathedral. In it you will be able to see, among other things, San Rosendo treasure, Celanova’s monastery. The treasure contains eight curious pieces of chess manufactured in rock crystal, it is fatimid art from the 10th century. Besides, the cathedral has three perfectly preserved Romanesque doors. The most important of them is the great western entry (known as the Portico of the Paradise). It reproduces in a simple way the structure of the Portico of the Glory from Santiago de Compostela cathedral, though its figures are more static than these. However, it preserves its original polychromy.

Close to the cathedral is the Mayor Square. It has irregular form and it was renewed at the end of the 19th century. It has porches and granite houses, with the glazed galleries typical from Galicia. There is an exception, a modernist house of the beginning of the 20th century, under it there is still Archaeological remains of an ancient Roman city. On the first Sunday of every month it is celebrated a street market of antiquities and traditional products.

In the Mayor Square it is the Town hall (from the ends of the 19th century). It is blazoned and with neoclassic forms; and also the emblazoned Episcopal Palace, fold Roman building reformed in the 12th century in Romanesque style to be the episcopal headquarter. Today it is the Archaeological Museum. In its rooms there are diverse objects that show the evolution of Galicia from the Paleolithic to the medieval world, emphasizing the section of megalithic, with its funerary offerings. We also emphasize the rooms dedicated to the military epoch and the Galician-Roman. The collection of the Guerreiros and the decorative sculpture have singular value.

Catedral de San Martín

Among Ourense’s prolific religious architecture we emphasize several temples. The first one is the Santa Eufemia Church, it occupies a privileged space in the monumental heart of Ourense. It is an enormous baroque temple constructed between the 17th and 18th century. Its façade has an extremely monumental composition, with the typical structure of altarpiece in stone and based on curved lines and numerous inlets and projections conceived to dramatize the chiaroscuros. In the church is also important the asymmetry, because one of the lateral towers is not finished yet. The Santa María la Madre Church is also an important building in the Major Square. It was constructed on the Suebi primitive church of St Martin of Tours. Santa María de la Madre Church preserves several columns of it. The current building was constructed in the 18th century in baroque style and one of its more interesting elements is its major churrigueresque altarpiece, which shelters the Romanesque style image of Santa Maria. The third temple is the San Francisco Convent (14th century), that has an eventful history. It was built on the ruins of a previous temple from the 12th century destroyed between 1294-1295 by the bishop Pedro Yáñez de Novoa followers. In 1929, the church was moved stone to stone to San Lázaro’s park, commercial heart of the current city and not too far away from the old town. Its cloister remained in its original emplacement, in the high part of the city. This cloister, from the 14th century, has rectangular plant with 63 pointed arches, 76 double columns (except the four first ones and the four last ones, which are simple and with four-lobed shaft) and 120 different capitals, decorated with archaic Romanesque style, vegetable, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic. It is considered as the best cloister of its kind in Galicia.

The emblematic and voluminous Ponte Maior or Roman Bridge is a bit far from the old town. It is the most ancient Bridge of the bridges built to save the Miño river. Its initial building seems to go back to the Roman times of the emperor Augusto. However it had important reforms at the beginning of the 13th century, when a defensive tower was raised and the  one raised a defensive tower and the eyes with pointed arches. Later, there were reforms in the 17th and 19th centuries, and they altered its medieval physiognomy.

But one of the major attractions to see in Ourense it has nothing to do with the stones, but with water. The As Burgas Springs, thermal springs that are in the origin of the city since Roman epoch. They are closed to each other and behind the Town hall. They were declared Historical-Artistic Set in 1975. They consists on three fountains: the Burga de Abaixo (19th century), with late neoclassic style made by the architect Trillo. The Middle one, in an esplanade, it centred by a spring with two sculptures: A casa da nube and Calpurnia Abana. Last, there is the Burga de Arriba, popular style fountain from the 17th century. The water flows with almost 70 Celsius degrees and, according to the legend, is born directly from the Saint Christ image in the Ourense Cathedral. Though, according to another popular leyend, it comes from a volcano seated in the depths of the city.

The thermal offer in Orense is completed by the recent resorts of A Chavasqueira, Outariz and Do Miño Tinteiro. They have parts where you can enter for free or for a very cheap price. They are on the river shore, between Outariz’s gangplank and the ponte Ribeiriño (Riberiño bridge). You can arrive to them by the Thermal baths route, it starts on the Burgas de Arriba, in downtown; it goes through the Milenio Bridge and the Romano Bridge view-points, then it goes down to A Chavasqueira, on the right side of the river. Around 500m hereinafter are Tinteiro’s springs, they are recommended for skin diseases. Finally, 3km far from Tinteiro there is the Burga do Moiño, a great natural swimming pool with thermal waters, and Outariz. You can walk this route (but it is 8 kilometres approximately) or you can take the “train of the thermal baths”. This is a regular service that starts on the Major Square. It is a comfortable way to arrive to the Springs.

Must-see

Iglesia de Santa María la Madre
Termas de Ourense

Practical data

Coordinates

42° 20′ 11″ N, 7° 51′ 48″ W

Distances

Santiago de Compostela 102 km, Vigo 94 km, Madrid 501 km

Altitude

148 m

Inhabitants

107 542 (2013)

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