OURENSE, THE CITY: ITS HISTORY
Ourense was born as the city of gold and water. It was named by the Romans, who founded the original settlement that they called Aquae Aurente (Bouling Waters), from which the actual place name is derived. But it is also the site of the crossroads, where Minho River defines the landscape of a city that is between the Galician coastline and inland Spain, and which always sought to promote itself abroad: in the past with its muleteers, grinders and overseas migrants, and today with leading fashion and car industries that are entering all European markets.
This place has been inhabited since much earlier times, as attested by the discovery of tools from the Paleolithic Age, the Megalithic Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
It was not until the early centuries of our era when it was established as an important settlement. The Roman foundation was the result of the construction of the magnificent Old Bridge, as a strategic location to control the passage of the river and the exploitation of the thermal waters ofrom As Burgas and other nearby fountains.
The Swabian rule, during the 5th and 6th centuries, brings the first documents about the Auriense diocese, which achieved a time of great splendor when it became the capital of the kingdom for kings Theodomirus and Myron, who promoted the construction of the original cathedral.
In the 13th century began a new revival driven by the bishop. The bridge was restored and a modern cathedral that would act as the core of Old Town was developed. This revival was linked to the strong demand for wine, and so the export trade of wines from the Ribeiro area flourished.
A milestone in the development of the city was being declared a provincial capital in the 19th century. In this moment began a new period of splendour that was reinforced with the arrival of the railroad, the industrial and commercial development. From the 20th century and up to now, the city has become a thriving centre that has more than 100,000 inhabitants.
The province of Ourense is an extraordinary sampler of natural landscapes scattered with towns and villages that keeps up the original charm of our agricultural, cattle farming culture. It has a cultural heritage of more than 750 churches, monasteries, sanctuaries, chapels and hermitages of Romanesque and Medieval styles.
The Ribeira Sacra area, not far from the capital, is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Galicia. There, a lot of monasteries are spread all over a sheer canyon created by river Sil where the Romans began to cultivate in terraces one of the finest Galician wines.
Due to its extraordinary landscapes, Ourense has been a location for many film productions. Its ever-changing light and its green hills have inspired the directors' and producers' ideas for cinematography and settings.
Ourense is a railway junction with the Iberian Peninsula. The Ourense-Madrid railway route takes 5 hours (450 km).
The Iberian road and highway network grants access to Ourense from the main cities in Spain and Portugal.
Ourense has two nearby airports, one in Santiago de Compostela (150 km) and the other in Vigo (100 km). In Portugal, Oporto International Airport (200 km) has very cheap air connections to most of European cities.
The Ourense International Film Festival is the oldest and main event for film industry in Galicia due to its international appeal.
> Street Map of Ourense
> Ourense Monumental Route