The Camellias route has a plus in Galicia. In your pursuit of camellias, you will also find genuine examples of local architecture, because in Galicia, the most beautiful camellia gardens belong to Pazos (manor houses) and castles. This will achieve to satisfy in the same visit, your curiosity for this flower, other relevant plants, local architecture, history and vineyards… That’s why this route has botanic, historic, ethnographic and viticulture interests. Come and take a look!
The 5 Gardens of Internacional Excelence in Galicia*
* Given by The International Camellia Society
The camellia is a bush, native from the Far East. In fact, 90% of the species come from China. The first European specimens arrived to UK by late XVIII century, probably searching seeds of the tea tree. It’s quite posible they arrived earlier to Portugal, coming later to Spain. In particular, they arrived to Galicia at earlier XIX century. They became trendy in Europe, and found a place in the most elegant gardens. Galicia was no exception, and “pazos” were embellished with ornamental varieties. Other species of camellias were used to make oil and cosmetics along the centuries, but specially tea.
Mild and humid climate of the region are an exceptional environment for the develop of the camellia. Besides, some cold gets better the quality of the flower. As a consequence, in this region, growth and development are significant.There are actually more than 200 species, and a ton of varieties, due to the its high capacity of mutation. Camellia japonica is the most common specie in our area, for ornamental cultivation. It’s a perennial foliage bush, that means it maintains the leaves all year long. Leaves are arranged, thick, and usually glossy dark green. Branches are greyish, and the flower, that grows alone or in pairs, measure from 3 to 10 cm. The colour range of the flowers goes from white to intense red, with a variable number of petals. The fruit is dried, and appears in not all of the varieties.
Blooming is from December to March. However, some varieties bloom in Autumn, and it is posible to find flowers even during Spring.
Camellias Route - 1 day
These 3 gardens that we suggest to visit, not only are distinguished with The International Excellence qualifications but also are very close each other. By car, it will take you not more than 20 minutes to go from one to other.
You can even plan a funniest option. What about doing the tour by bike or walking? It will be sustainable and enjoyable. It will take you about 2 hours walking (the trail between the 3 gardens), or 50 minutes riding.
Starting from Pontevedra (or South):
1- PAZO DE LA SALETA: only 20 minutes driving from the city centre of the provincial capital (Pontevedra). You can visit the gardens and the Chapel. It takes its name from the Chapel of the Virgen of La Saleta, built in 1.870. In the venue you will find an hórreo (local granary), and a pigeon loft.
The garden expands on 2 has. of english landscape garden. There are at lest 800 specimens, including 23 different camellias, some of them really odd. You can also admire a collection of Callistemum, and another of Leptospermum lanigerom. Both of them, among the oldest ones of its kind in Galicia.
Guided visit, under previous request. Pazo de la Saleta
We will continue to the next stop, at only 5 minutes by car, 10 by bike, or 35 minutes walking. Depending on how late we planned the day, we can have lunch before or after the next visit to the Pazo:
2- PAZO QUINTEIRO DA CRUZ: You can visit the 7 has. tardes, designed by the french garden designer Dorgambide. We can find a manor majestic house, neoclassic Galician style, in addition to many ethnographic elements: stoned carved fountains, arbours, statues, 2 “cruceiros” and 2 “hórreos”, a chapel, a pidgeon loft, a laundry place.. giving the whole garden a remarkable romantic character.
Pazo Quinteiro da Cruz runs its own D.O Rias Baixas wine cellar, with a limited and careful production. The garden, of great botanic interest, includes more than 1.000 varieties of camellias, among other notable specimens. Visit it with pre-booking: Pazo Quinteiro da Cruz
3- Pazo de Rubiáns: The Pazo was built over a defensive medieval tower, on an extensive 68 has property distributed in 3 areas: the botanic garden, the forest, and the vineyard. During your walk you will discover some ornamental elements: the chapter, the “cruceiro”, the “horreo”, the frog’s pond and areas of French and English garden design.
Its delightful gardens exhibit more than 800 different species, including at least 25 varieties of camellias, and other exceptional species, like a Galician oak 400 years old, and other specimens included in the Catalogue of Unique Trees of Galicia.
In this Pazo you can visit the gardens, and if you book a guided visit, the interior of the house, finishing with a tasting in the cellar.
Pre book needed: Pazo de Rubians
There are still 2 Gardens of International Excelence left to visit: Castillo de Soutomaior and Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla. Castillo de Soutomaior is 35 min driving from Pazo de la Saleta, though you can easily incluide it on a driving tour. Beside the beauty of the castle (visitable), its 25 has of garden became relevant, with at least 100 varieties of camellias and 22 botanic specimens catalogued as monumental. The visit can be free or guided. Castillo de Soutomaior.
Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla is 30 minutos from Santiago de Compostela, and close to another fine garden: Pazo de Oca. The Pazo, in addition to many species of camellias and a renowned path surrounded of centenarian olive trees, has some specimens included in the Catalogue of Unique Trees in Galicia. Guided visits must be pre booked: Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla.
CAMELLIAS FREE ROUTE
There are some free public places where you can also enjoy a CAMELLIAS ROUTE. Furthermore, in COVID times, some private gardens are closed, being the public ones the only alternative to approach to camellias.
The chosen ones are: (from N to S):
– ALAMEDA, in SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA: camellias are situated along the central promenade, and on the Paseo de la Herradura, where you can get into walking up the stairway at he end of the central promenade. In addition to the 13 varieties of camellia japónica, you will observe 10 trees catalogued as Monumental in Galicia. During the walk you will find statues and fountains, and the best viewpoint to the towers of the Cathedral. Map of the Alameda (Tourism of Galicia).
– BOTANIC GARDEN OF PADRON: 20 km from Santiago, on National route, you can find this oasis. In addition to some species of camellias, you will find some unique trees, as the Senegal palm tree, the “tree of love” , or the red sequoias.
– GARDENS OF THE PALACIO PROVINCIAL DE PONTEVEDRA: Alameda de Pontevedra.
– PAZO DE LOURIZÁN: at the outskirts of Marín, 10 minutes driving from Pontevedra. You can visit the garden, that holds some curious surprises: the mirrors grotto, an hórreo, a pigeon loft, a stone winery, a pond “of the trouts”, some fountains… The Pazo is a magnificent eclectic-modernist style residence, but not posible to visit it (it’s in ruins) .
Back to botany, in the 45 has. wide garden, it is possible to find 12 varieties of camellia japonica, an specific area of aberrean species from South América, a metasequoia, a cedar of Lebanon, and a formation of Japanese and Chinese chestnuts, among others. Map of Pazo de Lourizán garden (Tourism of Galicia).
– CASTRO DE VIGO: at the mount, you will find 11 varieties of camellias, mostly on the path between the cross (Cruz de los Caídos) and the underground tank of water. From Portuguese origen the majority of them, like the Pomponia Estrata Portuensis, Angelina Vieira, or Dona Jane Andersen, and other ones with a Belgian origin. Discover also other arboreal species of interest, like the Pino de Monterrey (Pinus radiata), or the Phoenix palm tree, from Canarias. The occasion deserves a visit to the viewpoint, to admire the Ría and the city. In Vigo we are so fans of camellias, that que have an Avenue Camelias, at the bottom of the mount. Map of the Park (Tourism of Galicia)
– PAZO QUIÑONES DE LEON: in Vigo. To visit this garden is an excellent pretext to also know the Pazo, or vice versa. Strolling its tracks you will discover a labyrinth, an area of French and another of English garden, a pond, a rosegarden, and a Camellias Promenade. In this jardín you will find 10 varieties of camellias, like the Matusalén, the Incarnata, or the Herzillia II. Furthermore, you will find some unique trees, fountains, ponds, etc… Not to be missed. Map of the Gardens (Tourism of Galicia)