Cambados, conjunto histórico

The town of Cambados enjoys a privileged location in the valley of O Salnés, at the mouth of the river Umia, on the shores of the estuary of Arousa, with a low, sandy coastline protected from the prevailing winds from the south west. Its town centre, with a wealth of historic buildings, is the result of the contemporary combination of three formerly independent historic towns: San Tomé, the oldest area, a fishermen’s village with a beautiful port; Cambados, the administrative centre, which today contains the national tourism parador; and Fefiñáns, once an aristocratic district and centre of commerce.

The wealth and beauty of the city as a whole is defined in a popular saying, which states that the devil appeared before jesus as he fasted in the wilderness for forty days, tempting him by saying ‘i will give you the whole world, except Fefiñáns, Cambados and San Tomé’. In fact, these three centres of population are a point of reference in the region’s wine producing sector, and the city is recognised as the capital of albariño wine; it also has a large number of shellfish gatherers who make a healthy profit from their catch.

A walk through the city, home to great writers and artists such as Ramón Cabanillas, or the sculptors Asorey and Leiro, allows visitors to enjoy the noble, seafaring air it still retains, at the same time as discovering a wide range of manor houses and private homes with the typical patín (a patio with an outside staircase connected to the house), found in its streets and squares. Spa tourism is highly developed in the region of o Salnés, with five establishments near Cambados in the council of Sanxenxo, and three health resorts and a spa in the council of O Grove, an excellent option for leisure and relaxation for visitors.


The best way of seeing the town is by walking through each of its original centres of population. Starting with Fefiñáns, here we find the different architectural elements dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that make up the Pazo de Fefiñáns or Figueroa, the Baroque archway and bridge, a lookout tower known as the Torre da Homenaxe or Homage Tower, and the church of San Bieito. The pazo or manor house is a beautiful structure inspired by Italian architecture. With coats of arms on all of its façades, it has two large circular balconies. The church has two Baroque bell towers and has a beautiful interior in Gothic style, with a splendid dome and several tombs. The same point also includes a structure rarely seen in Galicia: the tidal mill of A Seca (from the seventeenth century), today a museum with a display explaining how it worked.

In Cambados, reached through the tree-lined Calzada promenade, which includes the monument dedicated to the poet Ramón Cabanillas, we find the Pazo dos Faxardo or dos Salgado (dating from the seventeenth century), with coats of arms and fine proportions; the popular casa das Cunchas, decorated on the outside by scallop shells; or the Casa Fariña (eighteenth century), as well as the National Tourist Parador of Albariño, which occupies the seventeenth-century Pazo de Bazán.

Finally we reach the fishermen’s neighbourhood of San Tomé, with an equally rich variety of heritage elements. A walk down Hospital Street is necessary, the entry point from the centre of Cambados, which includes the Pazo de Molto, the former Royal Hospital dating from the sixteenth century for plague victims. Here we also find the Baroque Hospital chapels, and the church of Santa Margarita, with a cruceiro or roadside cross alongside its façade. Towering above the rest of the monuments in this neighbourhood is the impressive eighteenth-century Pazo de Montesacro, together with the chapel of A Valvanera, situated on a small hill overlooking the sea. It has a stately stairway leading up to it, and a façade highly influenced by the Compostelan Baroque style. The chapel dates from the same time as the manor house. Also in San Tomé, on a small island, are the ruins of the tower of San Sadurniño, built in the High Middle Ages and reformed in the twelfth century, which once served as a lighthouse and lookout tower against invasions from the sea, and was finally abandoned in the eighteenth century.

A visit to the Ethnographic Museum of Wine is highly recommended. Located in the avenue of A Pastora, it offers visitors a tour of the history, art, geography and popular culture related to wine. The city has another museum related to wine, the ‘Pazo Torrado’ Wine Routes Museum, in Príncipe Street. Nor should we overlook a visit to the House and Museum of Ramón Cabanillas in Fefiñáns, which includes items from the daily life and work of this illustrious writer, born in Cambados; or the Fisherman’s House and Museum in the poplar-lined walkway or alameda of San Tomé, connected with the world of the sea and fishing. In the Exposalnés Regional Centre, in the Casa da Calzada, an old building now rebuilt with a modern annex, there is an exhibition of resources from the region.

A unique town

There is a tremendously evocative location in the city that should be visited by all those who love monuments with a romantic air; the ruins of the church of Santa Mariña de Dozo, built in the sixteenth century in late Ogival style, with its backbone of four semi-circular arches that stretch along the remains of the roofless nave. The carvings on its capitals foretell what awaits us if we lead a life free from vice and sin. The romantic atmosphere is further heightened by the graveyard built into the floor of the nave.

Don't miss

During the first week of August, Galicia’s oldest gastronomic fair is held, one of the most important in all of Spain: the Festa do Viño Albariño, first held in 1953. On the day of the festival, a series of stands specially decked out for the occasion serve their wines at special prices, all from the ‘Rías Baixas’ Protected Geographical Indication, accompanied by traditional empanadas (a type of pie with different flavoured fillings), mussels, peppers, clams and other products from the sea and farm. Declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest.