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In the Galician province of Pontevedra, situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, lies the city that lends its name to the southernmost estuary of the Rías Baixas: Vigo. Its fishing origin has left a historic quarter with a strong maritime flavor, which contrasts with the modern facilities of its marinas. This city is an excellent base from which to visit the towns and villages along the Vigo estuary and the Cíes Isles that form part of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands.
The cuisine of the Galician coast, based on fish and seafood, is an added incentive for visiting this region. The port of Vigo, one of the finest natural ports in the world, was the origin of this city fringed by mountains. Its maritime qualities, already exploited in Roman times, have given rise to the present-day marinas and the transatlantic harbor, as well as to the fishing and canning industries. All of this has contributed to the urban development of Vigo, which includes the traditional port area and boasts major historic buildings and wide tree-lined avenues.
The historic quarter, the so-called Cidade Vella, is articulated around the old maritime quarter of O Berbés, near the port. Situated in this quarter, which has Tourist-Historical Interest status, are the arcades around the Plaza de la Constitución, fishing streets and emblazoned houses. One of the main features of this network of tiny streets, in which most façades have glass-encased miradors, is the Collegiate Church of Santa María, the Procathedral of Vigo-Tui. Neoclassical in style, this edifice is constructed on the remains of a Gothic church burned down by the pirate Francis Drake.
Also worthy of a visit in this area is the do Pedra market, a fascinating place for buying and sampling Galician oysters. The newer part of Vigo occupies a triangle formed by the Puerta del Sol, Colón and Urzáiz. Lining the wide avenues are notable buildings, one such being the García Barbón Cultural Centre, designed by Antonio Palacios. The modern sector contains one of the best miradors over the Vigo estuary, the Monte do Castro mount.
Located amidst the forests and leisure areas are the remains of the hill-forts that constituted the early settlement, as well as the ruins of the 10th-century O Penso Castle, the layout of which was used for the construction of the 17th-century Tower Castle still standing. The large Municipal Park of Castrelos is located on what once was the estate of the Quiñones de León country house.
Amidst Neoclassical gardens and ancient trees, the Municipal Park contains an interesting collection of Roman steles, furniture and statuary, and an art gallery exhibiting European works from the Baroque period as well modern works by Galician artists. The park also boasts an open-air auditorium where key music events are held. The mounts of A Madrona and A Guía that lay around the city of Vigo provide magnificent viewpoints from which to admire the surrounding landscape.
Also worthy of a visit is the Zoo, situated on Mount A Madrona, whilst the Municipal Park also contains the hermitage of Nosa Señora da Guía. The Galician Museum of the Sea, situated at the Punta do Muiño in the parish of Alcabre, comprises buildings, gardens, a square, and a wharf. The work of Aldo Rossi and César Portella, this complex houses various items related to the sea.