‘THE GALLAECI. A community between two worlds’ is an exhibition where visitors can enjoy a journey through the rich cultural heritage of the region of Rías Baixas and of Galicia as a whole. They may explore the evolution of the area over a period of 2,000 years, from prehistory to late antiquity, through a selection of its most representative archaeological objects. Rías Baixas, located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, is a territory of great trading activity where cultural traditions meet, and one of the most densely populated areas of Spain in terms of archaeological sites.
The exhibition examines the trading and cultural relationship between Gallaecian communities and other areas, as well as the changes they experienced from the Bronze Age to the Crisis of the Third Century. It also explores the lifestyle of these Atlantic communities, the impact other cultures may have had on them and the transformation of their area. Due to its geographical location, the Iberian Peninsula has been a bridge between two worlds since prehistory: the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The Gallaeci lived in an excellent territory that allowed them to interact with both cultures, as indicated by the latest archaeological research and the materials found in the excavations of archaeological sites. The exhibition opens at the National Archaeological Museum (MAN) in Madrid on 31 November 2018 and will tour to other Spanish museums, such as the Museum of Pontevedra and the Prehistory Museum of Valencia, between March and September 2019. It explores Gallaecian culture through more than 70 representative archaeological artefacts on display. Some of these objects have never been seen before in Pontevedra, while others are still exceptionally relevant.
This didactic visual exhibition does not leave anyone indifferent due to its monumentality and its impressive common theme. The vast archaeological heritage of the most iconic sites will enable visitors to experience and better understand the archaeological and cultural wealth of the region anytime of the year.
Rías Baixas awaits anyone wishing to experience this powerful and exciting archaeological destination first‑hand.
Restored and highlighted unique ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES…
The archaeological site of Santa Trega, which controls the mouth of the Minho River, was a Gallaecian-Roman settlement occupied from the 4th century BCE to the 1st century. Its structural style reflects the castro (hillfort settlement) tradition, in which defensive and domestic architecture with circular units was the norm. At 20 hectares, this is is one of the largest castros found in Galicia, although to date only a 5% of its total area has been excavated. The site features houses made up of several rooms grouped around a yard. There are huts built directly on the bedrock, with their walls covered by lime and sand. Some of them have benches attached to the walls on the inside. In addition, the household items that belonged to the families living there are of Roman character. Significant finds were uncovered between 2015 and 2016, such as a stone head, Roman amphoras and lamps, terra sigillata pottery, fragments of decorated carvings, a millefiori bowl (the only one in the north of the peninsula), a legionary dagger, the end of a gold torc and more than 42,500 pieces. Santa Trega is undoubtedly very important in regards to the cultural heritage of Rías Baixas and Galicia.
The archaeological site of A Lanzada in Sanxenxo is not a castro, but a fish salting factory that occupies a remarkable location between the rías (or estuaries) of Pontevedra and Arousa, with good anchorage areas and tin mines in its immediate surroundings. It was a trade emporium with no evidence of fortification. It was exceptional due to its architecture, which shows very advanced structural solutions unparalleled in the Gallaecian world, but also due to its economic activity (with cattle, horse remains, and shell middens that suggest specialised shellfishing). The evidence of basins is what links it to a salting factory, the first of its kind in the northwest of the peninsula. Until recently, this industry was considered to have been brought to the Galician coast by the Romans, but A Lanzada shows the Gallaeci had it 200 years before the Romans arrived. Additionally, a unique element about the site of A Lanzada is its large necropolis. It dates back to between the 2nd and 6th centuries and 102 individuals have been exhumed from there, 43 of whom can be attributed to the late Roman period. However, A Lanzada was not only a place for the dead. A large rectangular structure with a side portico has been found connected to the necropolis. Dating from between the 4th and 5th centuries, it may have been a small church.
The natural viewpoint of Monte do Facho, located in the peninsula between the rías of Vigo and Pontevedra, went through many changes through the centuries that are still noticeable today. It was a settlement in the 10th century BCE, from the 4th century BCE to the 1st century it was a Gallaecian castro, and between the 2nd and 4th centuries it became a sanctuary to the god Lar de Beróbriga. Different rituals took place in the sanctuary, which reflects the evolution of the rites and beliefs that prevailed during the Roman period, when hundreds of altars were created in veneration of this deity.
Archaeological site of Castrolandín (Cuntis)
The archaeological site of Castrolandín, in Cuntis, was an agricultural settlement located on a granite hill near the Gallo River valley. There is a domestic unit there composed of several spaces that follows the house-yard model. The previous access to the castro was closed and a huge new entrance opened in the northwestern side, with defensive towers and a stairway. The family living there amassed many Carthaginian and Roman items, especially wine containers. The discoveries made in this site show the existence of trade contacts through the presence of Punic and Roman ceramic, as well as products from the high plains of central Spain, such as a little horse fibula.
MUSEUMS hiding captivating historical and cultural treasures…
Museum of Pontevedra. It was created in 1929 with the aim of promoting the Galician culture of different points in time. Initially it was located in a beautiful house from 1760 known as Castro Monteagudo, and later it was expanded to other buildings:
• The García Flórez building, from the 18th century, houses samples of jet, engravings, religious sculptures and a traditional Galician kitchen, as well as the office of Admiral Méndez Núñez and a reproduction of the chamber of the Frigate Numancia.
• The Sarmiento building, dating back to the 18th century, exhibits archaeological collections from prehistory to the Roman period, as well as the legacy of the contemporary and Asian-Eastern art from Sánchez Mesas-Fernández de Tejada.
• The Fernández López building fundamentally houses paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries.
• The Ruins of Santo Domingo Church are part of the museum as well. They are one of the most relevant historical and artistic elements of the city of Pontevedra, despite not being in the monumental area of the city. The remains of this former monastery, founded in 1281 by the Dominican Order, date back to the 14th and 15 centuries. It was abandoned after the ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal in 1834 and only the high altar and side chapels have been preserved.
• The Sixth building is a 10,000 square-metre expansion of the museum with exhibition rooms, both temporary and permanent, restoration workshops and an auditorium that seats 250 people.
Sea Museum of Galicia. It has one of the most complete permanent exhibitions related to fishing and the sea, as well as some other temporary exhibitions. This impressive building was designed by Italian architect Aldo Rossi, who imagined a modern and very inspiring building in the place of an old tinned food factory in the parish of Alcabre. The project was finalised by Galician architect César Portela. The archaeological centre Salinae, the only sea salt evaporation pond of the Roman Empire preserved in a museum, is part of this institution.
Stunning SCENERY impossible to forget…
The mouth of the main Galician river, the Minho, marks a section of the border with Portugal. From source to mouth, the tides and the flatness of the terrain allow for the existence of small islands and meadows along the riverbed. A unique natural environment, it is an ideal place for birdwatching, with natural lookout points and hiking routes. The mouth of the river is extraordinarily beautiful because of the grandeur of the space, which can be spotted from the top of the Santa Trega Mountain, where the archaeological site of the same name is located.
The area of Costa da Vela stands out because of its spectacular beaches, such as the nudist beach of Barra, but also because of the cliffs of Cabo Home, from where the archaeological site of Monte do Facho controls the views over the Cíes Islands and Fisterra on clear days.
The green lands in the region of Deza can be spotted from the castro of Toiriz. This is the location of the natural area of Brañas de Xestoso, between the regions of Tabeirós and Deza, the best Galician representation of Sphagnum acid bogs, which are extraordinarily rare and fragile habitats. In addition to the wetland, this area is peculiar because of the diversity of its species, such as a small population of little bustards, a bird typical of these steppe habitats.
For more information about the region of Rías Baixas, please visit www.turismoriasbaixas.com .