we want to approach Vilagarcía de Arousa past and present
we have to point out two different, but complementary, geographical
realities: the Salnés valley and the Arousa Bay.
Vilagarcía is in the North of O Salnés,
a natural region whose characteristics have been celebrated from
the oldest times because of the fertility of its lands and the
mildness of its climate. But Vilagarcía is, above all,
synonym of Arousa. And Arousa is the biggest and the most beautiful
of Galician bays.
Therefore, it is not strange that this privileged
portion of Galician coast has been inhabited from very ancient
times. The shapes of cups, deer and circles carved on stones in
the parish of Bamio, dated from around the second millennium BC,
are some of oldest vestiges of habitat founded in this area.
The Alobre, Carril, Agudín and Lobeira
pre-Roman settlements; the discovery of coins and Roman pottery
in these enclosures; the Visigothic coins found in the cemetery
of Vilaxoán... speak volumes for the continuous inhabitation
of the vilagarcian municipality.
first document in referring to this land dates back to the year
912, when bishop Sisnando donated it to the powerful monastery
of San Martín Pinario (Santiago de Compostela). During
several centuries, the monks wielded their power over the ancient
Arealonga, until in the 14th century, a noble Galician family,
the Caamaño, settled down in Rubiáns (nowadays,
a parish of Vilagarcía). Sometimes allied with the bishop,
at other times with the King and always with profitable marriages
in between, they held sway over the flourishing Arealonga and
later they could set up, about the middle of the 15th century,
the harbour and town of Vilagarcía.
The 17th century was a time full of splendour,
in which Fernardo de Andrade e Soutomaior, descendant of the founders
and archbishop of Compostela, stands out as the most remarkable
figure. In the 18th a member of the family Mendoza e Soutomaior
became marquis and, soon afterwards, he created a free market,
which still takes place nowadays.
19th was the century of the consolidation of Vilagarcía
as main harbour and main town of O Salnés. The city was
the first in Galicia to rise up against the French invader, and
that is why it was, later, harshly repressed. This forced to its
reconstruction and to look at the harbour as the key to the future.
In 1873, Vilagarcía became the terminus
station of the first Galician railway (Santiago-Carril). From
that moment, its condition of “natural harbour of Compostela”
marked its frank and cosmopolitan character, so it is not estrange
that the first documented evidence about the practice of football
in Spain refers to Vilagarcía as the setting of the match.
In 1907, the thriving Vilagarcía became a reference for
Galicia, after the grant of the island of Cortegada to the king
Alfonso XIII, so he could build a summer palace. Six years later,
in 1913, the councils of Carril, Vilaxoán and Vilagarcía,
which were independent at the time, joined together to turn into
the current Vilagarcía de Arousa, a frank and mixed city
that leads one of the areas with better future prospects in Galicia.