The name of this town’s municipality, A Estrada, comes from the Latin word strata, which means “treaded land,” or “where it is walked.” And it is precisely where four houses along a crossroads that pilgrims used to pass through on their way to Santiago that the land of A Estrada, whose capital was Lorenzo de Sabucedo. Contrasting with its rural and primitive ambiance, the “Galician Versailles” is located nearby.
Planning Your Trip to Sabucedo
A trip to Sabucedo should include the entire municipality of A Estrada, with special emphasis on its path of the Romanesque churches, and a visit to the remarkable Pazo de Oca (further explain in the Things to Do section of this article). Seeing this area in its entirety; with its tour through lots of churches and the “Galician Versailles,” on narrow roads (and often through the rain); requires a full weekend. It adds to the fun if you can make it there in the beginning of July, during the famous festival of the Rapa das Bestas. For those who are tired of the countryside and churches, you could alternatively spend your second day in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Since it is a rural town with still-developing tourist infrastructure, we suggest that you pre-arrange where you will eat and sleep during your stay. Taking a look at our web pages for eating and staying in Sabucedo should help with that.
The origin of the jurisdiction of Tabeirós, a region belonging to the municipality of A Estrada, dates back to the time of the Suebian king Miro. From the 12th century, these lands were politically divided into coutos (parishes) dependent on a lord or the Diocese of Compostela. In 1837, thanks to the conflicts between the absolutist clerics and the “liberal” chieftains, the town hall was moved to this village, and three years later, the city council of A Estrada was created. Until that moment in the history of San Lorenzo de Sabucedo, the village was nothing more than a small hamlet formed by half a dozen houses next to an intersection of roads. However, over time, that little hamlet gained enough standing to be converted into livestock and agricultural market. Its adhesion in 1875 into the monarchy of Alfonso XII resulted in the village receiving treatment of Ilustrísima in 1878, elevating it in 1912 to Excelentísima. In these first years of the century, the village was seen with public illumination.
Currently, A Estrada is a large municipality of 51 parishes. One of these parishes is San Lorenzo de Sabucedo. This parish is famous for its popular festival of La Rapa des Bestas (the shaving of the mares), one of the most spectacular festivals in Galicia. This festival, declared a UNESCO tourist attraction in 2007, takes place on the first Sunday in July. Its history begins in the 15th or 16th century. It was born from the traditional story of two old women living in Sabucedo, near the church. They saw all the people who were dying from the plague, and they promised San Lorenzo, the patron saint of the parish, that if they were spared from the plague, they would give their horse and mare to the church. Today, the event takes place on the day the mares are shaved. The mares that roam freely on the mountain (presided over by their males), are introduced into the curro, a circular, stone pen near the church. There, the mares’ manes are cut (or shaved), and their owners brand their heads, some being selected for sale. This festival is so popular and exciting because the branders do not tie up the horses to mark them. The horses can move freely, meaning that the branders have to be very careful and well-trained.
Sabucedo consists of a very small city center. The main historic attraction is the Romanesque Iglesia de San Lorenzo de Sabucedo, built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the middle of the 19th. At its side, you’ll find the old curro for the shaving of the mares (whose story is told in the previous section). The cityhall is also a cool place to see, with its eclectic style and tower topped by a cupola. The most exciting day to visit is Wednesday because of the market that is held. There are also big festivals held on the Tuesday before Easter and on November 13th.
Given its historical connection to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, many Romanesque churches are preserved throughout A Estrada. Based on all these churches, the RutadelRománico is made up of 19churches representing the style, although some have Baroque remodeling. Of all these churches, we will tell you about the most remarkable. The Iglesia de Santa María de Frades, built in the 12th century, is a true architectural gem, which exhibits a Romanesque spirit. This church consists of a rectangular apse and a barrel vault, with a large nave divided into three sections by pairs of adjoining columns. San Lorenzo de Ouzande has a semicircular apse with lots of half-point arches with beautiful capitals. The church of San Xurxo de Codeseda (San Jorge) shows all the richness of the Romanesque in its rectangular apse, buttresses, and modillions. The church of San Miguel de Moreira has the most characteristic collection of modillions with human figures, monsters, and human heads. The Iglesia de Santa María de Loimil boasts a nave and a rectangular apse with a beautiful cross made of links over the Testero del Agnus Dei, among other elements. Other interesting temples of various types are San Pedro de Ancorados, which has pentagonal apses; San Martiño de Riobó and San Estevo de Oca, which have semicircular apsees; and Santo Tomé de Ancorados, Santa Mariña da Barcala, and Santiago de Tabeiós, all of whom have rectangular apses.
The tradition of working with wood should also be included in this article, since A Estrada is the furniture capital of Galicia. There are artisanalnetworks on the outskirts of the village, and in order to promote the guild in addition to the annual fairs, the town recently opened the Museo del Mueble y de la Madera de Estrada (MOME). This museum is didactic and interactive, and you can learn all about using wood to make furniture. In the village of A Estrada, you’ll also find the Museo de Manuel Reimóndez Portela, which houses many bibliographic, documentary, photographic, and administrative accounts of A Estrada’s history.
On the outskirts of the town, you’ll find the Monasterio de Carboeiro, a church built by Gonzalo and Teresa, counts of Deza, in the year 936. It has a floorplan shaped like a Latin cross with three naves and another cross. In a vaulted arch over the door, you can see the representation of the Pórtico de la Gloria, with the Ancianos del Apocalipsis. It is considered a Galician, Romanesque gem, and it is said to be “unsurpassed by any monastery of its type and age.”
13 kilometers to the north of the town center, you’ll find the celebrated PazodeOca, owned by the Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, which is one of the most stately and well-preserved Galician palaces. It is even called the “Galician Versailles,” and it was declared a historical and artistic monument. Its construction was ordered by Álvaro de Oca on top of an ancient military building from the middle of the 15th century. The current structure is in the later Baroque style. It would be an injustice to leave out of this article the three most important parts of the ensemble. The first is the chapel, whose Baroque exterior boasts a tower in the corner. The second is the pazo itself, and the third is its gardens, which is the most popular part of the estate. It has a fountain and a granary in the foreground and a pond with a stone boat in the most luscious part.
Wood-working to make bagpipes in family-owned stores like those in the parishes of Berres and Riobó. A Estrada is the furniture capital, and to promote this line of production, people meet every year at the Salón de Mueble (in September) and the Feria Artestrada (in June).
Other artisanal stores of A Estrada: Areazos S.L., Artesanía Ferradáns S.C., Edita Rodríguez Oca, Fernando Porto Mato, Iglesias Neiro S.L.
Also forming a part of the artisanal traditions of A Estrada are: lathe operatosr, stonemasons, and ceramicists
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