Camelia in the Pazo de Oca (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
These gardens (some public, some private) are home to elegant spaces, monumental trees, exotic species, and romantic landscapes. In many of them, the camellia is the flower of choice for a dash of color. These trees, originally from Asia, are widespread in Galicia, where there are over 8,000 varieties.
Pazo de Mariñán, aerial view (15th Century)Regional Government of Galicia
On this botanical stroll around the Camino, we have selected ten gardens in Santiago de Compostela, along six routes: the English Way (Camino Inglés), the Portuguese Way (Camino Portugués), the Coastal Portuguese Way (Camino Portugués de la Costa), the Original Way (Camino Primitivo), the Silver Way (Via de la Plata), and the Sea Route of Arousa (Ruta del Mar de Arousa) and the Ulla River.
Gardens of the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazos are large manor houses that belonged to the Galician nobility. The houses combine the majesty and refinement of the aristocracy with the austerity of rural life. Mainly built between the 17th and the 19th centuries, many of them have magnificent gardens.
Gardens of the Pazo de Mariñán (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazo de Mariñán
The Pazo de Mariñán is a manor house located in As Mariñas, very close to the English Way. Originally a 15th-century fortress, it was transformed into a manor house in the 18th century, when it acquired its steps, balustrades, fountains, and gardens. The gardens that visitors see today were designed in the 19th century. They are divided into three areas: ornamental, horticultural, and woodland.
Gardens of the Pazo de Mariñán (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The geometric boxwood garden, with its whimsical patterns, is one of the jewels in the grounds of this house. It features a number of noteworthy species, such as around fifty banana trees providing large areas of shade, and the biggest strawberry tree in Galicia. The gardens sit alongside its feature-rich architecture, in a privileged location on the Betanzos estuary.
Square and facade of the Pazo de Oca (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazo de Oca
The Pazo de Oca manor house is located in A Estrada, not far from the Silver Way. Stone, water, and vegetation coexist in perfect harmony, earning this house and its gardens the moniker, the Versailles of Galicia. Its splendid gardens boast a wide variety of styles, principally Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic.
Walk of the linden trees in the Pazo de Oca (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Over a hundred boxwood trees, which are over 300 years old, surround its two ponds. The grounds are richly adorned with fountains and statues, nestled among which are numerous camellias, some standing over 26 feet tall. An avenue lined with magnificent lime trees divides the house's orchards in two.
Waterfall in the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla (2016)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla
Not far from Oca is another pazo with magnificent gardens. Over a period of several hundred years, Santiago de Compostela's most powerful families built pazos and houses in this area, which they used as summer retreats. The house at Santa Cruz de Ribadulla, in Vedra, is arguably the most impressive of them all. Ornamental gardens and pathways sit alongside fruit-producing orchards and camellias, while cattle graze elsewhere in the grounds.
Ombú in the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
This pazo boasts the largest number of entries in the Galician Catalog of Monumental Trees, and many specialists believe it to be Galicia's most important ornamental botanical garden. Iván Armada, known as Uncle Iván, was the gardens' owner in the late 19th century, and was hugely influential in shaping them.
Walk of olive trees of the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The gardens are home to Galicia's oldest camellias, planted between 1780 and 1820. Its olive tree walk is not just stunning to look at, but also extraordinary, with 500 trees that are more than 500 years old. Added to this are numerous other eye-catching features in the gardens' design and plant life, such as the enormous ombú tree, the dicksonia (a 16-foot fern), the sheer vertical scale of its oak tree, its boxwood-lined pathways, the pond, and the waterfall.
Pazo de Rubiáns (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazo de Rubiáns
The Pazo de Rubiáns, a manor house in Vilagarcía de Arousa, becomes a sea of color every winter when its over 800 varieties of camellia come into bloom, in yellows, whites, pinks, fuchsias, and reds. But the 68 hectares of land, divided up into gardens, woodland, and agricultural land (now used as a vineyard) contain much more than this.
Gardens of the Pazo de Rubiáns (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
In 1930, Dolores Urcola designed a geometric labyrinth garden that is still there today. Among the many ancient trees that stand in the grounds of the house are imposing magnolias, incense cedars, eucalyptus trees, and Japanese cedars.
Pazo de Lourizán (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazo de Lourizán
The estate of the Pazo de Lourizán in the town of Pontevedra, not far from the Portuguese Way, is home to Galicia's most important botanical garden. Its history is closely linked to Eugenio Montero Ríos, a prominent politician and jurist who acquired the property in 1879. He carried out numerous improvements to the estate, planting fruit trees, vineyards, ornamental plants, and wooded areas until his death in 1914.
Greenhouse in the Pazo de Lourizán (2007)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Dotted around the various pathways and ponds are attractive groves of camellias, Canary Island date palms, magnolias, Korean and Chinese chestnut trees, and redwood trees. The eucalyptus arboretum is Spain's most important collection of eucalyptuses, with over 50 species.
Metasecuoya in the Pazo de Lourizán (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Next to the house is an extraordinary glasshouse, housing monumental trees that include an enormous Lebanese cedar, a weeping Japanese pagoda, a Norfolk Island pine, and the biggest dawn redwood tree in Spain. The list of unique trees goes on, and includes kauris, rimus, totaras, and Brisbane box trees. The estate is now home to a forestry research center.
Pazo de Castrelos (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Pazo Quiñones de León
The first urban garden on our tour is also part of a pazo. Located in Vigo, on the Coastal Portuguese Way, it has been owned by the city council since 1933. With over 22 hectares, it is the city's largest urban park. The park has six different sections: the access garden, the rose garden, the French garden, the English garden (also known as the Tea Lawn), the sun terrace, and the forest.
Methuselah of camellias from the Pazo de Castrelos (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The estate boasts a wide variety of species, including imposing trees such as eucalyptuses, a beech tree, tulip trees, and magnolias. In the center of a charming boxwood garden stands a magnificent camellia known as Methuselah. It is over 26 feet tall, and almost 50 feet in diameter. It is believed to have been planted in 1860.
Rosalía de Castro Park (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Rosalía de Castro Park
Located on the Camino Primitivo in Lugo, this early-twentieth century park takes its name from the great Galician writer, Rosalía de Castro. A statue of her stands in the park. The park has several ponds surrounded by beautiful rose bushes. A viewing point in the park's western side provides views over the Miño River, below a well-established wisteria.
Rosalía de Castro Park (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The park has over a hundred species of large trees, including giant sequoias, maples, Spanish firs, blue spruces, and Atlas cedars.
Senegal palm trees in the Botanical-Artistic Garden of Padrón (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The Padrón Artistic Botanical Garden
Padrón, one of the towns most closely associated with the Camino, is home to this charming garden. Covering an area of a little over one hectare, it has around 300 plant species, including five that are classed as monumental trees. There is documentary evidence of the garden's existence in 1869, making it one of Spain's oldest urban gardens.
Corona de Cristo in the Botanical-Artistic Garden of Padrón (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
Among its many trees are a Senegal date palm that stands over 20 feet tall, two coastal redwoods, a horse chestnut tree with an extraordinary cylindrical crown, and an oak tree. It also has a particularly unusual Judas tree. The tree is known as the Crown of Christ because of the way it has been pruned. It is at its most spectacular in the spring, when it is in full bloom.
Alameda de Santiago de Compostela (2013)Regional Government of Galicia
La Alameda, as it is popularly known, is part of the grounds comprising the Alameda do Campo da Estrela, the Carballeira de Santa Susana, and the Paseo da Ferradura. It is Santiago de Compostela's oldest and most famous public garden.
Paseo da Ferradura (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
It was originally part of the St. Sussana ( Santa Susana) church, built in the 12th century to house the relics of its namesake. In 1546, the Count of Altamira donated the land around the church for the use and enjoyment of residents. The grounds now have a 19th-century bandstand, ponds, a significant collection of statues, and an important plant collection.
the Cathedral of Santiago of Compostela (1075)Regional Government of Galicia
Firs, eucalyptuses, redwoods, lime trees … The park's most impressive trees are in the Campo da Estrela and the Paseo da Ferradura. The latter is a path that runs around the edge of the grounds, providing beautiful views over the southern campus of the University of Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral, and the old town. Just as beautiful is the panoramic view from the eucalyptus tree known as the eucalyptus of lovers, which is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.
Soutomaior Castle (2013)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The Castle of Soutomaior
Having walked through pazos and urban parks, our final destination on this tour of Galician gardens is a castle. The castle is in Soutomaior, not far from the Camino Portugués. It dates back to the 12th century and, after several transformations, was converted into a Gothic Revival palace in the 19th century. Its 25-hectare garden is divided into four areas: a park, an orchard, vineyards, and a forest.
Redwood of Soutomaior Castle (2021)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia
The park, which surrounds the castle, has some remarkable ancient trees, including several exotic species such as bald cypresses, incense cedars, Norfolk Island pines, Montezuma pines, tree ferns, monkey puzzle trees, and Japanese cedars. A coastal redwood tree that stands at 141 feet tall and 32 feet in diameter provides the garden's canopy.