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Imaxe do panel: A heritage that emerges in time
 Heritage 

A heritage that emerges in time

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The project of the Belesar Dam was officially signed in 1955. The construction work is declared of National Interest and will flood the medieval village Portomarín, despite its protection as a Historical Site since 1946. Then, the Academy of History and Fine Arts requires the preservation of the most important monuments.


The old Portomarín village was made up of the districts of San Xoán(St. John) and San Pedro (St. Peter), located on both banks of the river Miño, and joined by a Roman bridge rebuilt approximately in 1125. The new Portomarín village rises between 1960 and 1964, "becoming one of the most significant works in the history of the restoration of monuments in Spain"

Belen Castro, PhD in Art History, University of Santiago


The company in charge of building the dam, FENOSA, pays for the move of the most significant elements, under the supervision of the National Service of Artistic Heritage Defense. The management was carried out by the architect Francisco Pons Sorolla.

 The 3 religious monuments moved, Capilla de Santiago (St. James Chapel), Capilla de San Pedro (St. Peter Chapel) and the Church of San Xoán (St. John), have a prominent historical and artistic value, as well as a special symbolic significance. The church of San Xoán (St. John) and the St. James Chapel were integrally moved. The St. Peter Chapel just kept its Romanesque port and a mausoleum.

 The remains of the Roman bridge, built in the second century, and which was, for centuries, the main infrastructure over the Miño river, has 152 meters long and 3.30 meters wide. The St. James Chapel was built on the last arc, when it arrived in the district of San Xoán, and from here, the blessing to pilgrims was imparted.

The church of San Xoán, along the banks, resembled a fortress and acted as the main defensive element for the population of that bank. It was built in the twelfth century and retained its original layout. "There, you can pray within an original and pure Romanesque environment", Pons-Sorolla said. Its thousands of stones were disassembled, numbered, and assembled again at the new location.


"The intervention carried out does not neglect memorial, environmental artistic values of the medieval construction, but modifies them. The relocation and restoration of architectural and scenic settings are based, ultimately, on the most important museological and historical resources to support the revaluation of the St James’ Way and the monumentalization of a Jacobean site"

Belen Castro, PhD in Art History, University of Santiago


The old village of Portomarín was a land of noblemen and, thus, a place of manors, such as the Pazo (Manor) of Berbetoros and the Pazo (Manor) of the Marquis of Paredes. Among other properties and states, some shields, ashlars factories, pillars, arches, pedestals, facades and balconies were recovered.

Portomarín has a remarkable archaeological heritage, which proves that men and women inhabited these lands for thousands of years. It is an area of important settlements, with mounds and footprints of the culture known as "castrexa". The best example is the site of Castromaior, a jewel of the Iron Age.