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20 km, 3 h 10 min.

248 m of cumulative elevation gain.

Stage 5
Gallegos de Argañán-Fuentes de Oñoro-Vilar Formoso

A stroll around Gallegos de Argañán. The name of this town refers to the resettlement of the area by people from the Spanish region of Galicia (Gallegos), but nothing is now left of the ancient fortification that is mentioned in books. Within the municipal boundaries, on the banks of the River Águeda, stands the fort of La Plaza, which is the original home of the Vetton statue, or verraco —a wild boar preparing to charge— that is now kept in the Provincial Museum in Salamanca. Another verraco, originally located within the urban area of Gallegos, is now in the Convent of San Francisco – St. Francis in Ciudad Rodrigo. Embedded in a buttress in the main chapel in the church of Santiago Apóstol – St. James the Apostle, there is a pedestal with the Roman inscription: VITVLUS / ARREINI·F / IOVI·SOL / VTORIO / V·S·L·A. According to César Morán’s Spanish translation, this means “Vitulus, the son of Arreinus, willingly fulfilled the vow he had made to Jupiter the liberator”. In addition to the chapel of Cristo - Christ, Gallegos boasts beautiful examples of popular architecture, with large carriage doors.

Roman pedestal in the church in Gallegos de Argañán.

The Portuguese oak forest. The experts distinguish between two types of holm oak forests in the province of Salamanca populated by Portuguese oak and Spanish oak, respectively. The latter’s forests are distributed throughout the east of the province, while the Portuguese ones occupy the west. The Spanish forest is drier and made up solely of that specie (Quercus ilex). In the Portuguese forests, which are damper and not as cold as the Spanish ones, the holm itself prevails, but it shares its domain with another three species of the Quercus genus: the Pyrenean oak (Q. pyrenaica), the cork oak (Q. suber) and the Portuguese oak (Q. faginea). These oak forests are also rich in species of shrubs and bushes, in addition to dozens of species of smaller flowers.

The Dehesa, the pasturelands of Gallegos de Argañán.

Campo de ArgañánThe name of this district is frequently mentioned in a document dated in 1376 as Campo de Alganán, and in 1414 as “Canpos de Algañán e Valdeazava”. Three hypotheses have been put forward to explain the sonorous name of Argañán: 1. From argaña ´a sort of pannier made of hemp´ or else ´crane´. 2. From a supposed compound ara-gañán. 3. From a Celtic-Roman property, again only a supposition, called Arganus or Arganius.

Fuentes de OñoroIt appears in medieval documents as Las Fuentes de Don oro and as Fuentes de Donoro, perhaps in reference to a landowner called Doña Oro, but whose name is not recorded in any known text. The area was probably resettled with people from the Spanish region of La Rioja.Due to the importance of the customs house and the railway station, a new town sprang up around it, La Colonia, while the original settlement kept its granite architecture almost intact. The trail passes through this old quarter, leading from the cemetery, heading directly for the frontier among vegetable patches, oak forests and pleasant meadows surrounded by ash trees.The church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción – Our Lady of the Assumption was built around 1230, and despite the repeated onslaughts of war, it still retains the Romanesque façade and a number of corbels. The highlights inside are the fragments of paintings, which probably date to sometime around 1575.

Fragments of paintings, church of Fuentes de Oñoro.

Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro. On the 3rd and 5th of May 1811 Fuentes de Oñoro was the site of a battle that destroyed most of the town and, according to the chronicles of the time, saw rivers of blood flowing through its streets. Between Fuentes de Oñoro, Vilar Formoso and Almeida, the GR 80 trail runs near the area occupied by the different divisions of the warring armies.

Meadows among ash trees. The path that crosses the village, and quickly leaves it behind, leads us into enchanted landscapes. It has brought us this far through beautiful scenery and delightful spots. The meadows with narrow-leafed ash (Fraxinus angustifolia) constitute a landscape that is defined by the freshness of the meadows and the immense value of the ash trees for wild animals and cattle alike. Further on, where the waters divide, the frontier is marked by a solid stone cross, which historians believe was once the site of the chapel of the Espíritu Santo – Holy Ghost, of which nothing now remains.

Ash forest beside the GR 80 in Fuentes de Oñoro.


Text and Photos: Juan Carlos Zamarreño Domínguez - Other images: files and publications held by the local councils of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo and by the Cross-border Consortium of Walled Cities [Consorcio Trasfronterizo de Ciudades Amuralladas].
Any full or partial reproduction of this site for commercial purposes is prohibited without the written permission of the authors and the Consortium.


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