The impressive Galician castle where Columbus lived and where a ghost lives

The road advances silently along the valley of the Verdugo River, in Pontevedra, without great stridency, without too many climbs. So Galician that it almost always goes unnoticed despite its good lines. The fortress appears at the exit of a curve, elevated, but not a crowd, barely 120 meters above sea level, on that Vigo estuary that cannot be seen, but is sensed; which is hidden between the peaks of the valley less than five kilometers in a straight line.

There is something mystical and a lot of earthly in Soutomaior Castle; a silence that envelops everything and is only broken by the chirping of some invisible bird or the joy that, on any given weekday, two or three pairs of children and siblings approach, running as fascinated as the adults.

They are, we are, at the foot of a castle that could well have been anything else among the many vicissitudes of its history. The truth is that there, Through that sea of ​​centuries-old rocks, runs a story that includes, in itself, many others.: that of Pedro Madruga, that of the Irmandiños revolt, that of María Vinyals, or ours, that of today, that of a place that has known how to adapt to offer the visitor an unbeatable environment and visit.

The story of Soutomaior

The origin of the fortress dates back to the reign of Alfonso VII, when a military and defensive structure was built in a strategic location. Close to the coast but protected from maritime invasions by Normans, Turks or pirates Being built on rocks, it allowed communications from north to south to be controlled, and dominated the valley of the Verdugo River from its confluence with the Oitavén to the mouth.

The castle evolved from a defense tower to a fortress with a double walled enclosure in the 15th century, a stage during which the figure of Pedro Álvarez de Sotomayor, better known as Pedro Madruga, stands out.

The investigations into this nobleman, who also held the title of Count of Camiña, Viscount of Tui and Marshal of Baiona, They suggest that it could be Christopher Columbus given the coincidences between the two about friends and rivalsas well as by the toponymy linked to the Rías Baixas with which more than one hundred places in the New World were named.

The origin dates back to the reign of Alfonso VII, when a military and defensive structure was built in a strategic location. the reason

Pedro Madruga converted the fortress into his center of operations. From there he clashed with the ecclesiastical hierarchy and other Galician noble families, such as the Sarmiento, and positioned himself in favor of the Beltraneja in the War of Succession.

The castle had been destroyed during the Irmandiños peasant revolt, and the nobleman intervened to rebuild it, also adapting it to the use of firearms, which Pedro Madruga had just introduced in Galicia. The site then experienced its greatest splendor.

((H3:The 'Alemannote'))

In the following centuries the fortress experienced a long decline, caused by family disputes, and would pass through different hands until it reached María Vinyals, known as the 'Red Marchioness', who turned the castle into a meeting place for artists, and to whom we owe the great legend of Soutomaior: the ghost of the 'Alemanote'.

This spirit belonged, or belongs, to a man of German origin who worked as a tutor and preceptor for one of the nephews of a previous owner of the castle. This man, also a scientist, had set up a laboratory in the basement of the fortress, finding a magic formula for a weapon that would decide World War I in favor of Germany. However, he would die on horseback before putting it into practice.

When a journalist friend of María visited Castillo, heard the story from the ghost himself, who appeared to him in one of the rooms, and fulfilled his request to destroy the formula. The writer collects her story in her book “O Alemanote”.

Soutomaior today

Strength It went up for auction in 1917 and suffered a new period of decline in the following decades.. After several sales operations and progressive deterioration, in 1982 it was acquired by the Provincial Council of Pontevedra.

Soutomaior now faces a new golden age, with the museumization that completes the historical and botanical attraction of this impressive fortress.

The castle 'estate' alone comprises about 25 hectares.
The castle 'estate' alone comprises about 25 hectares.the reason

Because only the 'estate' of the castle includes some 25 hectares of history and harmony, which runs from the original corn fields to the summer residence of the Marquises of Vega de Armijo and Mos; the one that advances, unstoppable, through the different specimens that, sometimes, have been there for eight hundred years with all their seasons, as happens with some of the chestnut trees.

Orange trees, eucalyptus and palm trees arrived much later. And naturally the camellias. Camellias that were first distributed in small groups throughout the park, and then twisted like garlands of color around the hill.

Today all of them are silent witnesses of a story that does not stop growing and that summarizesalmost unintentionally, more than half a millennium of our history, of the history of Galicia, of the fierce medieval fortress that was, and continues to be, made up, for the enjoyment of anyone who wants to get lost in its skirts.