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There are places that are touched by a magic wand and accumulate an important, and varied, amount of attractions that make them essential in any trip through the area. This is the case of Mount Santa Tecla – or Santa Trega, in Galician -, located in the extreme southwest of Galicia, facing Portugal.
In Monte de Santa Tecla we were able to test the time machine and travel to pre-Roman times, visiting its castro. Then, we had a small stay in the Middle Ages while admiring its hermitage. To finish in a timeless place, enchanted by the wonderful views that, from the top of the mountain, are obtained of the mouth of the Miño and the beaches and hills of Portugal.
And all this in one morning. We start our visit to Monte de Santa Tecla, in Pontevedra! Are you coming?
Visit to the Castro de Santa Tecla
In the first century B.C., that beautiful mountain on which I was walking under a spectacular – and unexpected – September sun was a real hive of people, for there was a Celtic city of between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. At least this can be deduced from the excavations that took place in the Trega peninsula between the beginning of the 20th century and the second decade of the 21st century. Nearly 100 years of careful archaeological work has brought to light only a small part of the 20 hectares believed to occupy the original complex.
When I arrived at the castro of Santa Tecla I found a large group of circular stone constructions surrounded by a wall which, due to its low height and thin thickness, had a delimiting rather than a defensive function.
From the northern part of the wall, you could see the wild sea licked by the La Guardia promenade (A Guarda en gallego), a town that serves as a base for visiting the Santa Tecla mountain.
In the castro there are canals and cisterns among a good number of houses, which differ from other constructions because the walls are much more worked, especially on the outside.
When you can visit the reconstruction of a small typical house, you can see that they were small houses of small dimensions and little decoration, with a small hall with benches attached to the wall, a central home and little more.
This castro was a peaceful place, because of the size of the walls, but also because of the remains found in the archaeological sites. From them it can be deduced that the inhabitants were mainly dedicated to agriculture, harvesting wild fruits, livestock (although they did not have pigs) and some fishing (several copper hooks were found), being textile work the only artisan work in which they made a special effort.
Walking along the small avenues of stone houses that make up the castro de Santa Tecla – one of the most visited in Galicia – is like going deep into history. A place populated by human beings more than 2,000 years ago and that would fall into oblivion and abandonment in less than two centuries (1st century AD), when taxes and trade restrictions imposed by the Roman Empire would end up forcing its inhabitants to seek more fertile valleys and land.
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Santa Tecla Archaeological Museum (MASAT)
Some objects from that Roman period can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Santa Trega (MASAT). In this museum, inaugurated in 1953 and housed in a building that was designed as a restaurant, are stored objects found in the excavations carried out in the castro.
Among the main objects in the collection are scrapers and Asturian beaks from prehistoric times, bronze axes from the Bronze Age, and a multitude of objects from the castreña period, such as kitchen utensils, human ornaments, pots, etc. Circular mills and anthropomorphic funerary stelae date back to Roman times.
The visit is an ideal complement to form a general and wide vision of the castro of Santa Tecla.
Hermitage of Santa Tecla
A few meters from the fascinating castro of Santa Tecla, on the peak of San Francisco, we find the hermitage of Santa Tecla. Built in the 12th century, it underwent several extensions and transformations in the 16th and 18th centuries.
The oldest part of the church, the presbytery, seems to have been built on the remains of another earlier hermitage, as can be deduced from the Visigothic tombs found during the 1994 excavations.
The hermitage, which belonged to the Monastery of Santa María de Oia, appears proud and beautiful, raised in stone on a beautiful patch of green grass. In 1962 the interior was reformed, losing the main baroque altarpiece, although there are still two others of that style, dedicated to the Assumption and St. Francis of Assisi.
The hermitage has two relics of great importance: one of Santa Tecla (donated by the archbishop of Tarragona in 1951) and a Lignum Crucis (a piece of the cross on which Jesus Christ died) donated by the Saved Father.
Viewpoints of Monte de Santa Tecla
Next to the fascinating castro of Santa Tecla, the other place that most caught my attention during my visit to this Galician mountain, was the viewpoint from which I contemplated the mouth of the river Miño.
The Miño estuary is accompanied by the green trees of the hillside, the valley of O Rosal and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which were in a tense calm that September morning.
You will find different viewpoints at various times of the ascent of the two peaks of Mount Santa Tecla, with two elevations that stand out from the others: the Pico del Facho (328 masl), which offers a beautiful view of the valley of O Rosal, the town centre and the fishing port of A Guarda; and the Pico de San Francisco (341 masl), which provides spectacular views of the mouth of the Miño, the islet of A Insua – which was inhabited by Franciscan monks – and the waters of the Atlantic.
Both are places where you would stay for hours without noticing that time passes, contemplating the beauty of nature.
Hiking in Monte de Santa Tecla
We didn’t have time to explore them properly, but in the Santa Tecla mountain you will find a network of trails (PR-G 112 Camiños do Trega) that will allow you to know much more about this beautiful area of Pontevedra. They are a total of seven roads that connect to each other and end up covering a total distance of just over 7 km.
The Fishermen’s Path
What did give us time to travel – at least one of its sections – is the beautiful Fishermen’s Path, which runs for almost 4 km along the Galician shore of the Miño River estuary.
The path is just over 5 minutes by car from the base of the Santa Tecla mountain and belongs to the Natura 2000 network. Walking for half an hour through it, we could admire the natural beauty of this route in which the Miño is embedded in an area marked by small fluvial beaches, forests and rocks.
Guided tours on Monte de Santa Tecla
Although we access the Santa Tecla mountain on our own – entrance is free if you arrive on foot and you must pay 1 euro per person if you arrive by car – there is also the possibility of guided tours organized by the Monte Trega Municipal Board.
The tours are free and it is not necessary to make a previous reservation. All you have to do is show up at the rendezvous point at the right time. Its duration and schedule varies according to the time of year.
In addition to these visits, you can also opt for the option of groups of at least 10 people. In this case, you will have to pay 2.5 € per adult (children under 14 will only pay 0.5 €), although it includes the access fee to the Santa Tecla mountain.
Excursions to Monte de Santa Tecla from nearby cities
If you are in the vicinity and want to visit the Monte de Santa Tecla and other essential places in the Bajo Miño area, we advise you to book some of the following excursions: