A Guarda, Spain’s unsung jewel

There is something about the place, and I cannot put my finger on it, that leaves with a distinct feeling of sleepiness. Not that leaden feeling that weighs down your eyelashes and dulls all of your collectiveness, but more of a calm that is so omnipresent that it slows you down along with everything else. And here in A Guarda, in Galicia at the toe of Pontevedra, it is as if time slows down and a sanguine laziness seeps from every pore of the little municipality’s ethos. Even as tourism starts to take off here, the town’s original 10,000 inhabitants still look to fishing as the cornerstone of their economy.



How appropriate that that most leisurely of Sunday activities, that bastion of all things delightfully backward should be the plinth on which this town was built. The Mino River is the staging ground of their waterfront activities and it is this thin aquatic tract that separates it from Portugal. Traditionally, the two states have had a fractious relationship. Today, the two share a relationship that is calm and even friendly in its nature. That explains why I find so many Portuguese on a quick day trip into the town, but it is not where I will be, for I am headed to Monte Santa Tecla. It is one of several settlements that litter the outskirts of A Guarda and it was discovered as early as 1913, known well for its rounded and sometimes even oddly squarish and oval buildings.

Monte Santa Tecla

The foundations of the present town lie in these early settlements itself and another prime example of these settlements is the Celtic Roman ruins of Citania de Santa Trega. I wonder how, if those first settlers could cast a glance forward in time, would these settlers see the bustling tourism industry that has really taken off here in recent times? And then I realize that it is all a moot question when I gaze out from the mountainous settlement itself, for all they can see is a panorama straight out of the annals of perfection for as far as the eye can see, all culminating in the mouth of the estuary from where I stand.

It would be wonderful to believe that the town has stayed in a time warp, but nothing could be further from the truth. While A Guarda has metamorphosed into something more beautiful, it has still managed to retain much of its pastoral charm.

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