Galicia doesn’t have the enormous egyptian pyramids or monuments like Stonehenge that everyone can identify from the distance, nor the beautiful cave paintings you can find in Altamira, Cantabria. But there is an amazing witness of the old history of the world that can be found on rocks all over the region: petroglyphs.
The carvings on the stone from 4,000 years ago, can be found in many places in Pontevedra. This has made the lands of Pontevedra one of the biggest concentrations of Rock Art in Europe.
Whether they were created as territory and power marks, hunting signals or just a connection with the outer world, these mysterious carvings are way worth a visit on your trip to Rias Baixas, Galicia and the North of Spain.
These are the top 5 prehistoric rock art sites in Pontevedra:
Wild deer at the archaeological area of Touron
There are no live deers at Touron area, in Ponte Caldelas, anymore. But you will find many deer carved in the stones of the archaeological Area of Touron.
This open-air rock art site is a very interesting place to start when visiting Petroglyphs in Galicia. They are located on a 2km circular route on the side of a hill and it includes numerous motifs, both naturalistic and geometric in different rock panels (Naval de Martiño, Coto das Sombriñas, Laxe das Cruces and Coto da Siribela).
Access is free any day of the year and the sites are marked with visual panels to help you locate each of the carvings. It is an easy route for kids and adults, although not accessible on wheelchair. There is also a small explanation centre that only opens by appointment and an audioguide you can download at Terras de Pontevedra website (in Spanish).
Where: Touron village in Ponte Caldelas, Spain
Lat: 42.4049048 Lng: -8.5243815
Mogor beach and its Labyrinth stone
Mogor beach is, together with Aguete, Lapamán or Portocelo, one of the best beaches at the Ria de Pontevedra. It is also one of the closest to Pontevedra city, just 2 kilometres away from nearby Marin town.
But it is not only known because of its wonderful sunsets. People from all over the world come over here to watch its petroglyphs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean while it enters the Ria of Pontevedra. The most famous one is Pedra do Labirinto (Labyrinth stone), a series of carvings that are related to the Atlantic and Mediterranean traditions.
Access is free all year long and it is fairly accessible for everyone. There is also a small museum explaining the history of the petroglyphs and its famous labyrinth carving.
Where: Mogor beach, Marin, Spain
Lat: 42.385526 Lng: -8.718229
There is a cycling route from Marin.
A Caeira, National Heritage
A Caeira overlooks Poio, river Lerez and Pontevedra city from the top of a hill. This group of petroglyphs from the Bronze age is a National Heritage monument and is famous because of the geometric carvings, being its circular combinations the most representative in all Galicia.
The area is free to visit all year long and it’s partially accessible. There is also a small exhibit explaining the history of the carvings and the excavations, located by the Touristic Information Center in Poio.
There is also an audioguide (in Spanish) available at the Terras de Pontevedra website.
Where: Rúa Illa de Arosa, Poio, Galicia
Lat: 42.4315309612612 Lng: -8.705396695492482
Chan dos Areeiros, a hiking route with views over the Ria de Vigo
The petroglyphs at Chan dos Areeiros is said to be related to property and frontier marks. Apparently related to the limits of the Sao Martiño de Vilaboa and Santa Cristina de Cobres villages, the vast amount of carvings in the rock would mark the path of an old historic path that connected Os Areeiros and Acuña.
These petroglyphs are located along a hiking route that overlooks Ria de Vigo and which is also close to several megalithic necropolis (Suelo de la Cruz and Laguna de Castiñeiras).
Where: Vilaboa, Spain
Lat: 42.342314 Lng: -8.652672
Campo Lameiro Rock Art Park (PAAR)
The archaeological park at Campo Lameiro is known as the petroglyph metropolis in the north of Spain. It has two main areas: the museum (interpretation and documentation center) and the open air archaeological site.
The open air museum offers a 3km route with some of the most important petroglyphs in Galicia (and Europe) and a reproduction of a bronze age village. Not to miss is Piedra de los Caballos (or horses’ stone) with an enormous deer with several spears on its back.
The building contains an interesting permanent exhibit explaining the history and techniques that lead to the petroglyphs, and also some theories and enigmas still unsolved. They also have a copy of A Laxe das Ferraduras, a stone that can’t be visited (it’s on a private property) but is known as the Rossetta stone of Galician rock art.
The whole exhibit can be accessed all year long but Mondays. But I recommend checking their facebook page for special events like the night visits, tours and courses. Guided visits can be booked by email at reservas [at] paar.es
Where: Praderrei s/n, Campo Lameiro, Spain
Lat: 42.541882 Lng: -8.53051
Tickets go from 2,7€ (students, elders, unemployed) to 4.5€
On a map
Some extra info
Petroglyphs in Galicia are better visited early in the morning or when the sun sets. Some rain also improves visibility.
Public transport is a good option only to go to Poio (A Caeira) or Marín (Mogor) from Pontevedra. All other sites are better accessed by car, find the GPS coordinates up above.
All sites have free parking nearby. And you may find different services offering guided tours contacting the tourism offices and local tour operators.
How to get there
Closest city for this route is Pontevedra. You can travel to Pontevedra:
By train. Renfe operates direct trains from Vigo, Santiago de Compostela and even Madrid and Barcelona on a daily basis. Connecting trains with Portugal, Ponferrada or Irun are also available
By plane. Closest airport is Vigo (VGO 30km), next: Santiago de Compostela (SCQ 59km).