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

Royal Palace of Naples

Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.

Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.

In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.

During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.

In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.

The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.