O Barco, the capital of Valdeorras, offers the traveller numerous surprises at any time of the year: places to wander in a territory with strong historical roots and a landscape featuring the Sil River and the beauty of the high mountains. In the town there is a good variety of comfortable accommodation, and also plenty of establishments for enjoying the wines and the most characteristic dishes of the regional cuisine. The Camino de Santiago winter route passes through O Barco, entering at the town of Éntoma and then continuing through the neighbourhoods of San Roque, Casco Antiguo, Paseo del Malecón and A Proba before exiting the municipality as it continues toward Santiago de Compostela.
Paseo do Malecón
The Paseo del Malecón, 2 kilometres long, runs next to the Sil River and is the town’s main leisure area. The river, in addition to offering an unparalleled landscape, is the backbone of a walk that is the heart of the town’s social life, especially in good weather. On this promenade there is an ample, varied entertainment area with a river beach, sports courts, a swimming pool, playgrounds and café terraces overlooking the Sil. On the promenade there are festivities, music concerts and many more cultural, sports and recreational activities. A pedestrian walkway makes it possible to cross to the other side of the river, where the Salgueiral recreational area is found.
Old Town of O Barco
A walk through the old town (Casco Antiguo) of O Barco is essential for those who want to understand the origins of this town. The Plaza Mayor square opens onto the River Sil and the Porto da Barca. Here there was an old barge to cross to the other side, thus communicating Viloira and O Castro, the two villages existing before O Barco became a place of reference. In this square and in the surrounding streets you can see a variety of buildings; outstanding among them are the large stately houses with coats of arms on their façades. The church of San Mauro, patron saint of O Barco, is also located in this quarter. The original house of worship was built at the end of the 16th century and underwent reconstructions over the centuries. The old town is connected to Viloira by the San Fernando Bridge and has a pedestrian walkway from which to observe the Sil and the typical houses hanging over the river.
Casa Grande of Viloira
Viloira is a population centre located just a few metres from the town of O Barco, on the left bank of the Sil. Here you will find the Casa Grande, a large stately building constructed in 1637 and surrounded by a sizeable garden. It was built using a rectangular construction scheme, with two interior courtyards. The largest courtyard is surrounded by a closed gallery and has a unique fountain of red calcareous stone at its centre, typical of the area and present in many other constructions. In fact, the noblest elements of the building (corners, lintels, cornices and columns) are made of this stone. Today it is an administrative building of the Xunta de Galicia. The outer garden is public and is connected to the urban area by a pedestrian walkway.
Town of O Castro: Pazo of the Flórez and Torre families
O Castro is located less than five minutes from the municipal centre of O Barco, and for centuries it was the area’s administrative capital. This town is a true watchtower from which to enjoy good views of the valley. In this village there are a lot of “covas” (underground wine cellars), in which the excellent wines of Valdeorras are traditionally made.
One of the most outstanding elements of the Vila do Castro is the tower and fortress of Fortaleza do Castro, which was already awarded the generic protection of Spanish Castles in 1949 and was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (B.I.C. in its Spanish initials), categorised as a monument, on 17/11/1994, the year in which it was donated to the municipality of O Barco de Valdeorras.
It is a 14th-century mediaeval construction that has undergone partial destruction and reconstructions, becoming the property of the Counts of Ribadavia in the late fifteenth century. It underwent new renovations in the eighteenth century for use as a prison. After the suppression of the lordships in the nineteenth century it was neglected, falling into a state of abandonment and ruin. In 2013 it was restored and today you can visit it and enjoy its excellent views of the valley.
In O Castro there are also several other unique constructions. Outstanding among them is the Pazo de los Flórez (a manor house), which today is a hotel. Built in 1630, it has a very striking façade, with six arches made from the area’s characteristic red stone, and seven iron balconies.
Éntoma Bridge and Galir River
In the municipality of O Barco there are several bridges of Roman origin. The largest and most easily seen is in the village of Éntoma. Located on the Galir River, it is made of slate slabs. It has a single arch and rests on the living stone at the bottom of the river. Reconstruction made it possible to recover the top of this construction and walk on it, to admire its surroundings. The Camino de Santiago winter route enters the municipality of O Barco by this bridge.
Romanesque Church of San Miguel de Xagoaza
Among the outstanding buildings in the municipality is the church of San Miguel, of Romanesque origin (12th century), located in the village of Xagoaza. The Maltese cross on the façade reminds us that the place belonged to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The semi-circular apse reveals its Romanesque origin, and the varied figures -corbels- that adorn the cornice are notable. The church stands beside the Mariñán River, and about 500 meters upstream you can see a bridge with very attractive dimensions.
The Pincheira de Fervenza
There are numerous hiking trails that allow you to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of centenary chestnut trees existing in the municipality of O Barco. Among these routes is the Pincheira de Fervenza, which leads to the place of the same name. It runs along a path starting from the village of Fervenza, with different scenic overlooks that offer a general view of the valley, passing through different points of the river, until reaching a natural waterfall (pincheira).
To enjoy the municipality’s places of interest and its surroundings, you can download the tourist guide in the tourism section of the O Barco City Council website or using the following link: