The A Ponte neighbourhood is one of Ourense’s most dynamic neighbourhoods. Its location and infrastructures have made it one of the city’s fastest growing areas. This article will provide a summary of the best things to see and do in this Ourense neighbourhood.
Although A Ponte originally belonged to the City Council of Canedo (which was annexed to Ourense in 1941), it could be said that it has an identity of its own. It is currently one of the most populous neighbourhoods of As Burgas.
As its name suggests, A Ponte (meaning ‘The Bridge’) was born from the existence of the old Roman viaduct that used to cross the River Miño into Ourense. The construction of the Ourense-Empalme train station in 1952 led to further development, with businesses and activities linked to the railway industry setting up in the neighbourhood.
The railway station continues to be an important local landmark, being the first in Galicia to have high-speed trains connecting with La Meseta and constituting the operations centre of the Galician railway network. It also houses the bus station, which is another important transport hub.
In A Ponte you can cross the River Miño along several bridges and walkways, each from different historical periods and some with unique features. In total, there are seven bridges crossing the river in the city centre.
The oldest bridge, which led to the foundation of the neighbourhood and the early development of Ourense, is the Puente Romano, also referred to as the Puente Viejo [Old Bridge] or the Puente Mayor [Main Bridge]. This bridge was originally built in the 1st century AD at a split of the then-Via XVIII, which linked the Roman cities of Bracara Augusta (Braga) and Asturica Augusta (Astorga). Of Roman origin, the bridge has undergone many reformations and modifications over the centuries, giving shape to its present medieval appearance. Once the longest span bridge in Spain, the bridge was declared a National Monument in 1961 and is one of the symbols of the city.
It was not until the early 20th century that the city saw the construction of another viaduct, the so-called Puente Nuevo [New Bridge], which was first opened in 1918. It is notable for its large central arch with a 74-metre span. Its opening marked a huge step forward in the connection between the A Ponte neighbourhood and the city centre.
Next to the Puente Nuevo is the railway viaduct, which first opened in 1957. This was a key milestone in the development of Galicia’s railway network. It is 415 metres long and has three large arches, each measuring 46 metres high.
After the opening of the Puente Novísimo [Newest Bridge] in the 1960s, establishing a connection with the Carretera de Madrid, it would not be until 2001 when the city’s other great bridge, the Puente del Milenio, would be constructed. This footbridge is striking for its aesthetics, with a free-standing pedestrian walkway that hovers 22 metres above the river, serving as a modern viewing platform. However, in order to take in the magnificent views you will need to climb up a set of 100 steps.
The A Ponte neighbourhood lives up to its name, from the original Puente Romano to the modern viaducts that help people, cars and trains cross Galicia’s longest river.