Things to Do in Cambados

The Triple Capital of Albariño

The historic town of Cambados, on the banks of the Arousa river, is the capital of the Albariño wine producing region. Its low, sandy coastline is protected from the wind by the peninsula O Grove and the isthmus of La Lanzada. This town has witnessed many fights, with the most recent being the fight between the smugglers and the security forces.

Planning Your Trip to Cambados

The length of your trip should depend on how passionate you are about the Albariño wine (which holds a Decominación de Orígen Rias Baixas). Experiencing this town and its wine to the fullest could take some time. There are 13 wineries along the Tour of the Wine that you can visit, and you can also taste the delicacies of the sea that are offered at a much cheaper price than what you would find inland. Aside from the wineries, the town itself can take a weekend to see in its entirety. You can walk through the three historic neighborhood of Cambados, or you can visit the cemetery of Santa Mariña de Dozo (one of the most fascinating in Spain). For those who have seen all they wanted to see in the city, there are some destinations not far away. The beautiful city of Pontevedra and other interesting places like Combarro, O’Grove, and Villagarcía de Arousa are always worth a visit. Check out our articles about where to stay and eat in Cambados to find the best restaurants and lodgings.

Want to Get to Know This Place?

This town has always been rich in natural resources, with salt and deposits of copper and tin. It was populated by the Celts, Phoenicians, and Romans at one point or another. A Roman site is still preserved near the church of Santa Mariña Dozo.

Like all the river villages, it suffered Viking and Saracen attacks in the 11th century. It was for this reason that Diego Gelmírez (first archbishop of Santiago de Compostela), in the beginning of the 11th century, decided to build a system of watch towers (from which bonfires would be lit) to prevent any unwanted landings, elevating the castle of San Sadurniño in Cambados.

According to tradition, Juana de Castro, the widow of king Pedro I of Castilla, spent her final years here. This validated the village so much so that in 1170, king Fernando II of León gave it the title “Muy Leal Villa” (“Very Loyal Village”), giving fiscal privileges that incentivized noble families to settle there. These families built many of the beautiful Pazos (type of Galician house) that can still be seen today. The history of Cambados is linked to multiple famous people throughout history such as Pedro Pablo Bazán de Mendoza, illustrator and translator of Voltaire; and Emilia Pardo Bazán and Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, who lived for a time in these parts.

The village of Cambados was declared a Cultural World Heritage Site in 2001, and you can explore its center, which is divided into three historic neighborhoods that were formerly independent. These neighborhoods are Fefiñáns, the ancient aristocratic district and the commercial center; Cambados, the administrative center; and Santo Tomé, an excellent fishing neighborhood.

We begin our journey in Fefiñáns and its pazo, which is in the plaza with the same name. The palace, which stood by the sea until the 18th century, was constructed in the 16th century by Juan Sarmiento Valladares, an advisor to Felipe II, but the building you can currently see is the result of remodeling. It is formed by two L-shaped structures and a battle tower from which two circular balconies protrude in a pulpit shaped corner. In the Palacio de Fefiñáns, which was converted into a winery in 1905, you can find the Albariño wine that we have been talking about, as well as Aguardiente and Orujo. In the same plaza, but at the other end, there is the Iglesia de San Benito, rebuilt in the late 18th century in the Baroque style with an ancient Roman chapel. Its most distinguishing elements are its Churrigueresque baroque bell towers and its Gothic interior.

Other places of interest in Fefiñáns include the Plaza de Asorey, dedicated to the popular sculptor of the 20th century; the Pazo de Torrado (currently the Museo del Vino), built in the 18th century; the CasaMuseo del Escritor Ramón Cabanillas, in which you’ll also find the tourism center; and the Pazo de Bazán, built in the 17th century by an ancestor of the novelist Emilia Pardo Bazán, and rebuilt in the 60s and converted into the Parador Nacional de Turismo.

The neighborhood of Cambados, distinguished by its tree-lined path of the Calzada, is where you’ll find the monument dedicated to the poet Ramón Cabanillas, the house of Ayuntamiento, and the Pazo Fajardo from the 17th century. Pay close attention to the exterior of the Casa de las Conchas. It is beautifully decorated with clear, Baroque nuances, taking the form of scallop shells. The Plaza de Alfredo Brañas is also worth a visit. It is flanked by palm trees with a beautiful central fountain of carved stone. Among its religious architecture, the ancient Convento de San Francisco should be mentioned. It is a parish church, but it was originally founded in 1588. Its Renaissance and neoclassical features along with its beautiful interior that houses an excellent image of the Virgin Mary help it to stand out among others.

The popular Pazo de Ulloa (15th century) sits on the road going up the Monte de la Pastora, and it currently forms part of the land of the house of rural tourism called A Capitana. The building is from the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th, but renovations and extensions were made in the 18th century.

A little further up the Monte de la Pastora, you’ll find the most romantic structure in Cambados: the ruins of Santa Mariña de Dozo, declared a national monument in 1943. It consists of a Gothic church built in the 15th century over a different Roman church from the 12th century. It has a single nave divided by four transverse arches, five side chapels, a sacristy, and the main chapel. It caught fire in the 19th century, and its ruin motivated (by burying the outside cemetery) the inhabitants to use the interior of the ruins to entomb their dead. This led to the formation of a disorganized yet beautiful improvised cemetery. For the writer Álvaro Cunquiero, its beautiful half-arches “were there to hold out the wind.” On the same mountain you can also climb up to the Mirador de La Pastora, from which you can take in the breathtaking views of the River Arousa.

Cementerio Parroquial en las ruinas de Santa Mariña de Dozo

In the marine neighborhood of Santo Tomé resides what little is left of the castle and the Torre de San Sadurniño, which was constructed on the islet known as the Isla de Figueira in the 12th century. The tower, rebuilt in the 13th century and destroyed in the revolt of the Irmandiñas, was rebuilt in the 18th century and abandoned, leaving it in the state found today. Its crumbling remains, which can be separated into three bodies, reveal the ashlars and traces of the building.

The main pazo of this area is that of Montesacro, also known as that of Santo Tomé, and it sits on high with a view of the sea. Founded in the 13th century, its current neoclassical style is a result of renovations in the 18th century. It has since been transformed into a nursing home; its chapel is semi-public, and its interior displays a seated Virgin Mary on a Baroque altar.

There are many Albariño wineries in the surrounding areas, and if you want, you can follow the Ruta del Vino, in which 13 wineries are made available to the public. These include guided tours, tastings, and a chance to buy the products for yourself. But first, you should visit the Museo Etnográfico y del Vino to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the wine. Here you can find out all about the most traditional product with the most avant-garde technological advancements. Additionally, during the first week of August, the Fiesta del Albariño is celebrated. This festival celebrates the traditional cuisine of Galicia, and it has been declared a National Tourist Attraction. Multiple wineries install booths that offer their wines at decent prices, accompanied by empanadas, mussels, clams, and other fruit of the sea.

Essentials

Dónde dormir en Cambados
Iglesia de San Benito
Dónde dormir en Pontevedra
Palacio de Fenfiñanes

Practical Information

Coordinates

42° 30′ 0″ N, 8° 48′ 0″ W

Distances

26 km from Pontevedra

53 km from Vigo

652 km from Madrid

Parking

You should have no trouble parking in the village and its outskirts.

Altitude

0 – 15 m

Population

13,544  (as of 2013)

San Benito de Fefiñáns (July 11th, a popular pilgrimage in the Plaza de Fefiñáns)

Santa Mariña (celebration of the patron saint of Cambados, July 18th)

Romería Divina Pastora (the Sunday after August 15th)

Festa do Albariño (The first Sunday of August and the whole week before)

Festa de la Vieira (Second weekend in August)

Fiesta de la Vendimia (Last weekend in September)

Basketry, ceramics, lace, Celtic objects

(Cucadas, Aquelarre, Arume)

Nearby Destinations

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