Lugo is the oldest city in Galicia. Its Roman wall is the only one in the world with its perimeter intact, so it was declared a World Heritage site.
The visit to the city of Lugo can take one or two days depending on how much you want to do and see, and how many excellent restaurants you want to try. For those who love nature and the less-traveled places, it is advisable to take the A6 Highway southbound towards the park of the Ancares Mountains, one of the the most untouched mountain ranges in Spain. If you prefer more architecture, you can do a whole day trip to the important monastery of Sobrado dos Monxes; for which you must take the N540 and N547 and then veer north. Get to know the local gastronomy and where to book your stay by looking at our pages on what to eat. and where to stay in Lugo.
Built in the year 25 BC by the Roman General Paulo Fabio Máximo, Lugo received its name from Lucus Augusti. In the Roman period its main monument was built: the Roman Walls. In the year 460, it was conquered by the Swabians from the town of Godo. In 714, it was occupied by the Muslims.
Thirty years later, it was taken by King Alfonso I of Asturias, practically without opposition. The city was then in such a bad state that it had to be rebuilt almost entirely; thus he was able to maintain a resting place on the primitive route of the Way to Santiago.
It remained the town of Realengo until it was handed over by King Alfonso VI to the bishop in 1088. This change –from the distant king to the Bishop located there– did not sit well with the population. In the year 1312, they attacked the bishop and his soldiers, driving them out of the city. The fighters were led by Prince Philip of Castile and Molina, son of King Ferdinand IV and the representative of his city.
In 1833, the capital of the province was designed with the same name, which meant constant growth in the city in both population and expansion, reinforcing growth with the arrival of the first railway in 1875. On April 2, 1846 the progressive liberal Colonel Miguel Solis led an uprising of the garrison of Lugo against the moderate government of General Narváez. The colonel and eleven of his supporters were defeated and shot a few days later in Carral, on the outskirts of Compostela.
Besides its varied gastronomy… (“and to Eat, Lugo”) as the famous slogan of the city reads), Lugo has important medieval vestiges, like the cathedral and the old village, or baroques, like some of the most beautiful buildings of the city.
To disseminate this legacy, it has a network of municipal museums specializing in archaeological heritage, inherited mainly from the Roman era. All of them have a carefully created cultural program developed by the Town Council throughout the year. The most important is the Provincial Museum, located in the old Convent of San Francisco, where the preserved refectory, kitchen and the cloister can be found. Among its collections are the works of Galician artists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; such as Dionisio Fierros, Santiago Bonome, Castelao, Colmeiro and Maruja Mallo, among others.
Practically all the monuments that can be seen in Lugo are grouped together within the Roman walls. In this enclosed area, everything is nearby, which makes the walk enjoyable around the area. The wall, from the 3rd century, still captivates tourists with its magnitude (2,100 m long with 71 towers and 10 entrances, and the average height is 10 to 15 m and can be completely traversed). Of the ten entrances, the ones that deserve to be highlighted are the Porta Miñá or Carmen, Roman creations used by the Pilgrims Jacobeos, as well as the Santiago and the Postigo, also opened by the Romans and used exclusively for canons until the year 1659.
Puerta de Santiago, renovated in 1759 and decorated with a ‘Matamoros,’ leads directly to the Cathedral of Santa Maria, built in 1129 in Romanesque style, with a Latin cross, three longitudinal naves and three apses in the architecture, which was renovated over the years until reaching the current neoclassical facade.
The Cathedral of Lugo is of notable size and deserves a good tour with special attention to the North Gate, its main entrance of Romanesque style, with a two story arcade with a Gothic image of Christ over a hanging capital that represents the Last Supper (considered one of the masterpieces of Galician Romanesque sculpture). The Baroque Capilla de la Virgen de los Ojos Grandes, first patron of Lugo, was built between 1726 and 1734 by Fernando de Casas Novoa (1670-1750) also deserves a visit. Casas Novoa was also the architect of the facade of the Obradoiro of the Cathedral of Santiago.
By Obispo Basulto Street, you reach the lively area of the wines, presided by the typical Praza do Campo; which occupies the place of the Roman Forum and the medieval market. The narrow street of Rúa Nova is next to the former Convent of San Francisco (now Parish of San Pedro); a church with a clear influence of medieval mendicant architecture. On the corner is the entrance to the aforementioned Provincial Museum.
Also within the city walls is the Convent of the Augustinians, an old monastery of Dominicans occupied by the Recollects in 1844 after the disentailment, turned into a Gothic church at the end of the 13th century and reformed in the 17th century. Inside is the sepulchre and statue of the Recumbent of Fernando Díaz de Ribadeneyra in the left apse; The Cultural Center of Uxío Novoneyra, dedicated to the poet and writer of children’s tales, currently focuses on creating exhibitions of contemporary art. Alos nearby is the large nineteenth-century building of the Diputación Provincial (former Palace of San Marcos, originally built to be a hospital), and the Church of San Froilán (17th century), with its Baroque facade in which you can see the arms of the left bishop and a statue of San Rafael; And the City Council, one of the most important works of the Galician civil Baroque, with its peculiar stone facade decorated with plaques, columns and work of Lucas Ferro Paaveiro from 1740.
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You can read part II of this list here.
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