Orense Travel Guide

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Orense Travel Guide

Orense Local History

Orense is situated in the northwest corner of Spain, extending over Portugal. The landscape is a rain-swept land of grass and granite, much of its coastline gouged by fjord like inlets. The area is steeped in Celtic tradition and in many areas its citizens, called Gallegos, speak their own language (not a dialect of Spanish but a separate language, Gallego). The area in which it is situated, Galicia, consists of four provinces: La Coruna (including Santiago de Compostela), Pontevedra, Lugo, and Orense.

The Romans made quite an impression on the region. The Roman walls around the city of Lugo and the Tower of Hercules at La Coruna are part of that legacy. The Moors came this way, too, and did a lot of damage along the way. But finding the natives none too friendly and other battlefields more promising, they moved on.

Orense Attractions

Orense Parks & Gardens

The Plazuela de Santa Barbara - This cobbled and tiny tree-shaded plaza is flanked by old houses, and the high walls of the Santa Barbara convent. It merits a visit, and is sure a good place to relax after a long day of sight-seeing.

Jardin de San Carlos - Situated along Paseo del Parrote, this garden dates from 1843, and is near the Casa de la Cultura. The garden grew up on the site of an old fortress that once guarded the harbour. It contains the tomb of Gen. Sir John Moore, who fought unsuccessfully against the troops of Napoleon. He retreated with his British forces to La Coruna, where he was shot in a final battle. These gardens now make an ideal picnic spot.

Jardines de Mendez Nunez - Here you can take a stroll through the popular gardens, between the harbour and Los Cantones. Facing the police station and overlooking the port, the gardens are in the very center of town and make for a restful interlude during your sightseeing.

Orense Beaches

Costa Blanca - This southeastern coast embraces the industrial city of Valencia, but its best-known resorts, Benidorm and Alicante, are packed with northern-European sun-seekers every year. The surrounding scenery is not particularly dramatic, but the water is turquoise, the sand is white, and a low annual rainfall virtually guarantees a sunny vacation.

Costa Brava - The cliff-edged Costa Brava stretches from Barcelona to the French border, and is rockier, more serpentine, and without the long stretches of sand that mark the Costa Blanca. Look for the charming, sandy-bottomed coves that dot the coast . Although there are fewer undiscovered beaches here than along Spain's Atlantic coast, the Costa Brava still retains a sense of rocky wilderness. One of the more eccentric-looking villas along this coast belonged to the late Salvador Dalí, the region's most famous modern son who lived much of his life near Cadaques.

Costa Verde - Radically different from the dry and sun baked coastline of Andalusia, the rocky Costa Verde, better known as the Green Coast, resembles a sunny version of Ireland's western shore. Much of the coast is within the ancient province of Asturias, a region rife with Romanesque architecture and medieval pilgrimage sites, and one that has not yet been overwhelmed with tourism. Premier resorts include some districts of Santander, Gijon, and, a short distance inland, Oviedo.

Orense Restaurants and Bars

Orense is the ideal place to have some of the famous Galician soup, cocido (meat, potatoes and chickpea stew) and shoulder of pork with turnip tops. Pork is the most popular meat and, traditionally, the slaughtering of the pigs constitutes a gastronomical feast. Also popular is goat meat, specially the baby goat roasted in a pot, and game is very abundant. In Orense you will find woodcock, partridge, pigeon, rabbit, hare, wild boar and roe deer.

An important chestnut industry has developed, and products like Orense's marron glace (candied chestnuts) are proudly displayed on the windows of the best delicatessen in Spain and the rest of Europe. Another exceptional product in the realm of Orense's gastronomy is honey. The local farms of Orense are very prodigal, and magnificent potatoes and turnip tops grow in the region. Mushrooms are also very abundant in this province. Orense in an exceptional wine region, and it also produces excellent liqueurs and spirits.

Orense Restaurants

Sanmiguel - Since opening in 1951, this restaurant has proved itself worthy to even the most picky customer. There is a wide range of dishes on the menu, served in generous portions, in preparations that is typically regional Galician. Recommended is the fish, meat and seafood dishes. The venue has a capacity to seat 150 patrons and booking is advisable. It has an excellent wine cellar with an array of Denomination of Origin wines from Spain as well as many other wines from around the world (French, German, Portuguese), and there is home-made eau-de-vie liqueurs (aguardientes). The average price of main courses are 20€ - 40€, and there is a Gourmet menu for 30€. Sanmiguel is located on Calle San Miguel, 12-14 32005. Tel: 98/8221-245.

Habana - This popular restaurant serves regional Galician cuisine at its best. The head chef, Jose Antonio Simoes prepares the most mouth-watering sole and salmon rolls on algae, smothered in Albarino sauce. Visitors can also experience a variety of game in the season, and tart of 'filloas' (Galician crepes) on almond sauce. Prices for main courses are 20€ - 40€. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Habana is located on Avenida de la Habana, 61 32004. Tel: 98/8228-319.

Roupeiro - The restaurant serves solid, dependable, traditional Spanish cuisine. Included in their specialties is octopus with potatoes, Galician 'cocido' (meat, potato and chickpea stew), fish stew, oven-roasted kid, and fried milk. The average price for main courses is 20€ - 40€. Roupeiro is located on Carretera C-536, Ourense-Petin, km. 9 32005. Tel: 98/8380-038.

Orense Bars & Clubs

La Traida - An atmospheric holes-in-the-wall with a local clientele and a decor that has remained virtually unchanged since the end of the Spanish Civil War. Their empanadas and tapas are much sought after. The place's walls are lined with posters from past bullfights, political rallies, and art exhibitions. Do not look for a sign, as there is not one marking the entrance. Located at Calle Torreiro 3. Tel: 98/1229-321.

Bar La Bombilla - This bar is equally appealing. Flavourful tapas and strong red wines help a night go by faster. Located at Galera 7. Tel: 98/1224-691.

Bar Yeboles - Set close to Town Hall and the Plaza de Maria Pita, on the town's main square. With a selection of regional wines and other stronger beverages, this is a sure favourite among locals and visitors. Located on Calle Capitan Trancoso 14. Tel: 98/1206-220.

Disco Playa Club - If you want to go dancing after your drinks and tapas, and if it is after around 11pm, consider a run into the town's most appealing and most popular disco. Set on an oceanfront terrace, a few feet from the waves of Playa Riazor, it is open year-round Thursday through Saturday. Located on Av. Pedro Barrie de la Massa s/n. Tel: 98/1277-514.

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