We are still in Nigrán, the town across the river mouth Miñor at the estuary of Baiona (Pontevedra), Spain, and are walking back to where we parked the car earlier in the day.
Now it’s time to investigate that intriguing small bridge that I first saw as we came though the town.
The old bridge runs parallel to the new bridge that carries the main traffic but whilst I took photos the older one was well used by pedestrians.
The stones have been well worn and are big heavy, polished slabs that have obviously had centuries of use.
Parts of the bridge have clearly been renovated, but the sense of history, it’s age and charm are still very evident.
It’s construction at first looks like the architect had an over active imagination, liked geometry a lot or wanted to allow for a space for a small marketplace on the bridge, but it turns out that the over-abundance of pointy bits is a structural means of reinforcement to help the bridge cope with the forces of the tidal waters that it stands in.
The medieval builders certainly knew their stuff, because it’s still standing firm some 800 years later. .. and that’s a lot of water under the bridge , as the saying goes (and quite literally too of course).
I find out from a plaque close to the bridge that there is a legend to go with it’s quizzical beauty… and a rather kinky legend at that.
Here’s what the plaque tells us;
Middle Ages (13th Century) It was built during the first half of the 13th Century, a mixture of semicircular arches, some of them slightly pointed and others very pointed.
There are ten spans, with a double system of cutwaters to resist better the action of the water and the tide.
In the middle of the bridge there is a cross with the image of Saint Telmo, patron saint of sailors. On a stone table, there is an altarpiece with three souls.
Fertility rites were celebrated on this bridge: After midnight women who couldn’t get pregnant had to persuade the first man crossing the bridge to pour water into their wombs and to be Godfather to of their babies.
The isn’t a lot of additional information to be found on the bridge (OK, granted, there probably is, locally, and in Spanish)
Alas, my Spanish is almost non-existant and so all I could find out in English was that “this medieval bridge of A Ramallosa on the Minor River separates the municipalities of Nigran and Baiona.
It is possible that the bridge is of Roman origin but was completely reconstructed by San Pedro Telmo, Bishop of Tui around the 12th Century.“
I am left to ponder the strange fertility rites, Firstly: How desperate for a child would you have to be to accost a strange man in the middle of a bridge after midnight?
… and Secondly: After being infertile ( long enough for that fact to be obvious) and taking part in this ritual on the bridge that the woman might suddenly be pregnant?.. and to require the man concerned should have the role of “Godfather” to the child? (e.g.. remain in contact after the event, even in an auxiliary manner)
Hmmm… we will never know for sure of course, um, but did anyone else reading this also maybe jump to the conclusion that the ” water” being poured here might just be a euphemism for something else?
The Three Souls…
A ramp for access from boats leads down to the water at one end of the bridge…
The view up river…
On the bridge, looking left, looking right…
So the old bridge bears the burdons of the childless and the new one the weight of modern day life…
It’s the new bridge that takes us away up the coast…