The year 1963 is a turning point in the history of Portomarín: the old village dissapeared under the Miño river and a new town was built in Monte do Cristo Mount, a few hundred meters from its ancient past.
"Our generation had a very happy childhood in the new town. There was a playground, a swimming pool, a new school ... but we knew about the old village because it was always present in the talks of old people"
Aurora Lopez, last child born in the old village
Portomarín, which had already suffered migratory waves to Argentina, Cuba and Brazil in the early twentieth century, undergoes the increase of the exodus, due to the flood of the old village. Northern Europe, Catalonia, Euskadi or the cities of Lugo and Coruña are some of the destinations. From nearly 5,000 inhabitants in 1900, today, Portomarín has approximately 1,700.
A new economy for a new time: 50 years ago, Portomarín was strictly a crop-livestock village, with the focus on vineyard, rye and gardens, along with cows, pigs and poultry. Some areas, now flooded, were then particularly fertile, with plenty of smallholdings. The country is still critical, but it is not the main source of income. Tourism linked to the St James' Way has increased, since the village is very significant for the route.
17 years before his extinction (in 1946) the village was declared a Historic-Artistic Site, as the authorities had noticed degradation signs and wanted to protect the village against them. The church of San Xoán (St. John), a jewel of religious architecture, had already been declared a National Monument in 1931.
Treasures of gastronomy
The Portomarín pie, a delicious ensemble of almonds, flour, eggs and sugar, is a traditional delicacy, well known and appreciated internationally.
The "aguardiente" (liquour), considered a drink for the poor in the past, is now a coveted brandy. The "aguardiente" of Portomarín is especially appreciated and is made from the distillation of the remains of grapes after fermentation. The village celebrates the Aguardiente Feast every Easter Sunday and the Order of Alquitara has more than 200 knights.
The European eel, which is fished in the river using the traditional technique called "caneiros" is also a very famous dish here and it is used to prepare savory pies.
The green areas of the village have made it to be known as 'Villa Jardín' (Garden village)