Top Historic Sights in Ourense, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of Ourense

Ourense Cathedral

Ourense Cathedral, dedicated to St Martin, was founded in 550. The first structure was restored by Alonso el Casto. The present mainly Gothic building was raised with the support of Bishop Lorenzo in 1220. Its local patroness is Saint Euphemia. There is a silver-plated shrine, and others of St Facundus and St Primitivus. The Christ"s Chapel (Capilla del Cristo Crucificado) was added in 1567 by Bishop San Francisco Tr ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Ourense, Spain

Ourense Provincial Archaeological Museum

The Ourense Provincial Archaeological Museum occupies the building that was the Bishop’s Palace. It is one of the best preserved civil monumental ensembles in Romanesque style, and was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1931. Its structure is a faithful testimony of the development of the city, with Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern elements. Its construction began in the 12th century and played a ...
Founded: 1895 | Location: Ourense, Spain

St. Mary's Church

The façade of St. Mary"s Church, made in a restrained Baroque style (18th century), does not reveal the importance of this medieval church, located most likely in the site of the previous cathedral of Ourense. The only remains of this cathedral are some columns and some marble-like capitals preserved in the present façade and originating in the 5th or 6th century. From an inscription on the side, it is known that t ...
Founded: 1772 | Location: Ourense, Spain

Convent of San Francisco

In the 14th century, after the fire that destroyed the first Franciscan convent in Ourense (located in the current Mayor’s Square), the order moved to this place on the side of Montealegre Hill, where they remained until the 19th century. In 1843 the old convent was transformed into infantry headquarters (until its closure in 1984), producing numerous reforms. The most significant of them was the move of the apse and fr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ourense, Spain

Ponte Vella

Ponte Vella is a medieval footbridge built on Roman foundations in Ourense. At one time, it was considered to be the biggest bridge in all of Spain. The original bridge across the Minho River was built during the first century rule of Emperor Augustus though other sources state that it was built during the Trajan period. A mention is made of this bridge in the will of Doña Urraca, where it is said that it was repaired w ...
Founded: 1230 | Location: Ourense, Spain

Aquis Querquennis

Aquis Querquennis is the ruins of a Roman military camp sit along a flooded section of a river. The construction of the barracks dates back to the reign of Vespasian, around the year 75, when it was likely used as a base from which to defend newly built roads connecting other, larger roads in this remote province. The walls, arches and moat that form the foundations of this former Roman military camp can sometimes be fou ...
Founded: c. 75 AD | Location: Ourense, Spain

St. Mary in Reza

The parish church of St. Mary in Reza occupies a privileged position on the slopes of Mount Santa Ladaíña, in a place with beautiful views over river Miño. It was already mentioned in documentation from the 13th century. The Cathedral’s Treasures collection preserves the Virgin of Reza, a polychrome wood carving also from the 13th century, which also contributes to dating this church. Although Romanesque in origi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ourense, Spain

St. Martha’s Church

The old Velle church, although of Romanesque origin, combines many Gothic, Baroque and even modern elements. The apse is Baroque, while its interior preserves purely Romanesque elements such as the triumphal arch and the capitals on which it rests, with vegetal decoration. Both are from the 13th century. The façade has a semicircular arch decorated with high reliefs and is crowned with a steeple, used as a bell tower.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ourense, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.