The Fascinating History of Portomarín on the Camino Francés

Portomarín’s Historical Charm

Portomarín, nestled in the heart of Galicia, Spain, stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of history and culture. As a vital stop on the Camino Francés, one of the Camino de Santiago‘s most traversed routes, this town captivates travellers with its rich heritage and picturesque setting. In this blog, we will dive into the history of Portomarín, uncovering the layers of time that make it a must-visit location for pilgrims and history enthusiasts alike.

portomarin-french-way-caminowaysThe Remarkable Relocation of Portomarín

In the 1960s, an event unfolded that would forever change the face of Portomarín. The construction of the Belesar Reservoir led to the damming of the Miño River, threatening the original village with submersion. This village, established in the Middle Ages beside a Roman bridge, faced an existential crisis. The response? A bold and unprecedented move to relocate the entire village to higher ground.

Preserving Portomarín’s Heritage


The relocation of Portomarín wasn’t just a matter of moving a community; it was about preserving its historical soul. Key historical structures, like the 12th-century Romanesque church of San Xoán de Portomarín and the Capela de San Pedro, were carefully dismantled, stone by stone, and reconstructed in the new village location. This monumental effort not only saved these historical gems from the rising waters but also symbolically resurrected the town’s history and identity.

Portomarín’s Half-Century Celebration and Hidden Remnants

In June 2013, the ‘new’ Portomarín celebrated a significant milestone – 50 years since its relocation. This anniversary marked a celebration of resilience and renewal. Each summer, as the reservoir’s water levels recede, the remnants of the old village emerge, offering a haunting yet fascinating glimpse into the submerged past. These remnants, including parts of the ancient bridge, serve as poignant reminders of the town’s historical journey.

A Must-Visit Destination with Celebratory Spirit

Today, Portomarín transcends its historical significance to embody a lively, welcoming community. Each September, the town comes alive with the Festas do Cristo, a festival that draws both pilgrims and tourists. This event is a vibrant celebration of Portomarín’s enduring spirit, making it an unmissable destination for anyone journeying along the Camino Francés.

Delving into Portomarín’s history, we uncover a tale of resilience and change. This vibrant story captivates and inspires all who visit this extraordinary Galician town. For more information about the Camino de Santiago routes or to book your trip, contact us.

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