Lugo is a Spanish city located in the autonomous community of Galicia. With almost 100,000 inhabitants, it is one of the richest and most historic cities in the whole peninsula, dating back to Roman times.
Would you like to visit this town? Well, we are going to tell you more about it, the interesting history it hides and its most emblematic places.
Going back in time: The origins and history of the city
The city of Lugo was founded in the 1st century BC. Specifically, Gaius Antistio Veto, legate of Octavian Augustus in the Cantabrian wars, formed a military camp on an ancient Galician hill fort in a key strategic position. Lucus Augusti was founded on this camp.
You can't leave Lugo without visiting...
Explore the city walls, which are no less than 2,300 metres long. A special feature is that 71 of the 85 original towers have been preserved. These modifications are gates such as the Puerta de San Fernando, created to expand the city.
It was built to protect the Roman city of Lucus Augusti, and was completed at the end of the 3rd century. Today, it surrounds the historic centre of the city and blends in perfectly with the rest of the city. For this reason, it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Next to the Santiago gate, one of the 10 gates of the aforementioned wall, is the cathedral. Built in the 12th century, it is a Romanesque style building with a Latin cross plan, three naves, transept and ambulatory, which has five apse chapels.
The main nave has a pointed barrel vault, while the side naves have a barrel vault and groin vault. To the left is the so-called Torre Vieja (Old Tower), in Gothic style. The most striking feature of the interior is the main altarpiece by Cornelis de Holanda and the choir, built at the beginning of the 17th century in the central nave, the only Galician cathedral to preserve it.
One of the most emblematic museums in the city is the University Museum A Domus do Mitreo, located next to the Roman wall. The original project was for a cultural building, but the remains of an ancient Roman domus used as a mithraeum (temple in honour of Mithra) were located. This led to a rethinking of the project, changing its name and integrating the preserved remains into the new building.
The building provides access to the archaeological excavation, as well as an exhibition of some of the pieces found there. Most of the pieces are from the Roman period, although there are also some from the medieval period.
This museum is a clear reflection of the historical evolution of the city.
It currently houses the Lugo Town Hall, and is a baroque style building. It was built in the 18th century to replace the previous 16th century town hall. However, the building has been remodelled, with a new façade roof in 1834, an extension of the headquarters in 1862 and the construction of the clock tower in 1873.
You can find it in the Praza Maior, a place that stands out for the sculpture of the founders of the city. It is a work that is a symbol of Galician civil baroque, where the great royal coat of arms that presides over the town hall stands out.
We cannot forget the great Catholic history of Lugo, especially during the Middle Ages. The Church of San Pedro, built between the 14th and 15th centuries, dates back to those years. It is a Gothic and Mudejar style church with a Latin cross floor plan and a wooden structure with four toral arches. In the 1970s, a small hexagonal-shaped crypt was discovered which had not been found before.
This is a burial place for nobles such as Rodrigo Alfonso de Saavedra and Count Pedro Enríquez de Castilla. Of the Chapter House, only the entrance arches remain. What is preserved is the chapel of the Venerable Third Order, but it is closed to worship.
The city has its own Provincial Museum, which was founded in 1932. It was formerly located in the Pazo de San Marcos, but is currently housed in the former convent of San Francisco.
The refectory and the kitchen from the 18th century and the cloister from the 15th century have been preserved from the old convent. The cloister is the most interesting part, as it is one of the few Franciscan cloisters that have been preserved. It contains archaeological pieces from numerous periods, including Roman, Visigothic, Celtic and others in the Baroque and Gothic styles.
Once we leave the city walls, we should head to the banks of the river Miño, to continue enjoying the Roman heritage. Due to its origins, Lugo preserves quite a lot of heritage from Roman times. A great example of this are the remains of some ancient thermal baths on the banks of the river Miño, founded almost at the same time as the city. Nowadays, they are part of the Hotel Balneario de Lugo, which uses the same spring water used by the Romans.
Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, it conserves a large part of its original installations. The best preserved is the dressing room or apodycterium, where you can even see how the Romans used the wall's homacinas to store their belongings. You can also visit the old bathing room, with an area for cold baths and an area for hot baths.
Very close to the thermal baths is the Roman bridge or old bridge. This bridge crosses the river Miño to the southwest of the city, acting as a link between the Calzada da Ponte and the old road to Santiago.
The bridge, built in Roman times, was restored throughout the Middle Ages, the Modern Age and at the end of the 19th century. Today, it is used as a pedestrian bridge, as another bridge was built to allow ships to pass. Thanks to this, it has been possible to remove the asphalt, achieving an appearance similar to the original Roman bridge.
Another of the Roman works preserved in Lugo is the Roman temple of Santa Eulalia de Bóveda, located 14 km from the ancient Lucus Augusti and dedicated to the goddess Cybele. It later became a place of worship to Santa Eulalia.
Built in the 3rd century, it is a unique building in the entire territory of the ancient Roman Empire. It is notable for its horseshoe-arched entrance, its two exterior columns and its barrel-vaulted hall. Although the upper floor is no longer preserved, the crypt is preserved almost in its original form except for the central part of the vault. However, the most remarkable feature is the mural painting.