Pazo de Mariñán

The Pazo and its gardens are Historical-Artistic Site by Royal Decree of October 5, 1972.
Pazo de Mariñán
Pazo de Mariñán
Provincial heritage
A Coruña e As Mariñas » Bergondo

Mariñán among the Galician Pazos

The term "Pazo" generally designates the large Galician houses in the countryside. Buildings that usually have heraldic aspects and sanctuaries above the average. However, this term, which derives from the Latin "palatíum" is sometimes ambiguous and indeterminate. "Pazo" is a word of late use and its consolidation is due to the use made by writers such as the Countess Pardo Bazán, Valle-Inclán and Otero Pedrayo, among others. In the Galician literature of the 19th century, the life and decadence of the pazos motif becomes frequent.

The Pazo de Mariñán origins are dated in the middle of the fifteenth century, in a fortress commanded by Gómez Pérez das Mariñas, noble knight of the court of Juan II, who participated in an active way in the Revoltas Irmandiñas . Gómez Pérez das Mariñas called himself "Señor de las Mariñas, Mesía y Moscoso". The initial construction is known as "Bergondo", not Mariñán.

The Pazo and its gardens are Historical-Artistic Site by Royal Decree of October 5, 1972. Between 1972 and 1975, the Deputación de A Coruña promotes the reconstruction and extension works with a new residential part.

At present it has three uses: institutional acts, training center and the Pazo museum, gathering a good part of the Deputación artistic collection .

The lineages of Mariñán

Carlos Martínez Barbeito, researcher from A Coruña, was the great scholar and author of "Torres, Pazos y Linajes de los Pazos Gallegos" ("Towers, pazos and lineages of Galician pazos"). By him we know that, from Gómez Pérez das Mariñas, Mariñán is passed from parents to children. It is a genealogical line that, without ruptures, ends in Don Gerardo Bermúdez de Castro e Suárez de Deza, lord of Láncara. In his blood many of the great Galician lineages converge: the houses of Traba, Altamira, Lemos, Luis de Pimentel and Sotomayor, sadly known since he tried to assassinate his own wife, Ines de Ribadeneyra, in the pazo's rooms... . Oca, Sarmiento, Ulloa, Suárez de Deza, Osorio, Láncara ....

The last owner, Don Gerardo Bermúdez de Castro, frequentes the Madrid aristocratic environments in which it is common to replace the surname by the nobiliary title, so he was known by his contemporaries as "Gerardo Láncara". For this reason, the Pazo was denominated "Pazo de Láncara" during several years, name stilll given by the elderly neighbors. When he died in 1936, single and without children, although he had brothers, bequeathed the Pazo to the Deputación for social purposes.

Baroque architecture seeking contrasts

The Pazo's architecture presents a U-shaped plant, typical configuration of many of these constructions. The main façade is presided by a staircase, called "imperial". In its lower part two stone sculptures represent two servants in attitude to receive the newly arrived person. Climbing through it, the visiting person accesses the entrance hall that acts as a receiver and distributor to the other rooms.

The rear façade deserves special attention. It is dominated by a wide terrace with granite balustrades and a curious accesses organization, as it intercalates sections broken at an angle, topped with sculptures of glasses, fountains and channels for water games. All this made in Galician granite and with similar inspiration to some great Baroque staricases in Compostela.

Although the stairs of Mariñán evoke the Italian palatial architecture, perhaps we are in front of a Fernando de Casas Novoa's creation, author of the Obradoiro facade in the Cathedral of Santiago.

The terrace is the sun terrace (solana) which, as its name suggests, is the place to sunbathe. This explains the existence of benches on the wall. Some doors open to the interior, communicating with the old dining room, so if the weather permitted it became an extension of the interior dependencies. It acts as a nexus of union with that other outdoor living room that the garden is.

In the interior the great fireplace stands out; kitchen and meeting place of the house servants, in addition to heating the dining room and the lodges.

The horizontality prevailing in the Galician pazos is only broken by the tower and the chimney. The large dimensions are explained in part by the tendency of the Baroque to look for surprise effects and instability feelings, which translates into placing large volumes in the upper parts of buildings.

The lobby is the entrance to the noble part. In this area the floors would be of chestnut wood, oak or pine. In other areas stone would be used, as is the case of the fireplace; onshore, there were the cellars, the pantries, the stables and other rooms on the lower floor.

The chapel may have been foundated originally by the second daughter of Gómez Pérez de las Mariñas, Dona Constanza, who inherited this house. However in the eighteenth century, within the stylistic guidelines of the Baroque, an absolute reform was carried out. The façade, with bell tower and pinnacles topped with balls, is typical of that century. On the contrary, the altarpiece leads us into neoclassical rationalism.

As indicated by the popular proberb "Loft, chapel and cypress, pazo is". The chapel is an almost obligatory element, either next to the main building or independent. In the case of Mariñán, the chapel is oversize and has two doors; one in the upper part of the building where the owners and relatives went into the small choir or tribune, and another on the ground floor, right-angled to the main façade of the house, through which the rest of the worshipers entered. Besides fulfilling its religious function, it was, as in other pazos, a nexus of union between the owners and their neighbors.

One can not miss the four splendid carvings of the altarpiece, attributed to José Gambino from Compostela, son and grandson of Italians, trained with Casas Novoa and the Portuguese Almeida. His grandfather probably would have been a sculptor of the Florentine school based in Genoa. This artist's work, one of the most prestigious in the sculpture of the eighteenth century, was continued by his son-in-law José Ferreiro.

The artistic collection: a tolerant meeting between the past and the contemporaneity

From its rehabilitation years in 1975, an attempt is made to set the Pazo with furniture and artistic objects. So, it gathers a significant gallery, mostly of Galician authors, a veritable anthology, especially from the nineteenth century to our days. Thus, its dependencies are plenty of works of nouveau artists, modernists and renovators.

Among the oldest works is a table of flamenco style from the Pilgrims Hospital in Compostela, currently Hostal dos Reis Católicos. It is a sixteenth-century frontal, attributed to Francisco Gallego.

It is remarkable the collection of works of painters from the 19th century, of romantic inspiration, of historicist or costumbrista subjects like Modesto Brocos, Román Navarro, Dionisio Fierros, Jenaro Carrero, Ovidio Murguía Castro, son of Rosalía de Castro... some of them masters or acquaintances of the child Pablo Ruiz Picasso in his years of study in A Coruña. From the twentieth century, in the openness to the "isms" it should be mentioned the work of Villafinez, Alvarez de Sotomayor, Llorens, Seijo Rojizo, Juan Luis, José María Viruta, Fernández Sánchez, Isaac Díaz Pardo, among others.

Also non-Galician painters are represented such as Ángel Andrade, Rafael Torre or Tomás Moragas, with pictures given in deposit by the Prado Museum, which won deserved prizes at the National Art Exhibitions.

The furniture, although there are previous pieces, is fundamentally from the 19 century. There are also other ornamental complements, carvings, porcelains, traditional works of the province, vintage carriages, etc.

The landscape of Mariñan: the garden, the forest ...

The pazos are products of the hidalguía (nobility), a class that seeks to emulate the high aristocracy in its way of life. One element of prestige is the garden. In these sets are harmonized several worlds: the stone one, the water one and the plants one.

In Mariñán the architecture is complemented by the typical landscape of the marina that opens to the estuary of Betanzos, formed by the Mandeo river. Landscapes that offer green contrasts and reflections captured by the Impressionist painter Llorens.

The garden is divided into three zones: ornamental, horticultural and grove. Both reflect the different ways of benefit from the terrain. In principle, it was a copy of the monacal horticultural garden.

The garden was drawn at the beginning of the 19th century by a French gardener, based on the one that already existed, much simpler. Mathias Tiebe was possibly the author of the design, who at the same time took charge of the reform of the pazos of Ribeira and Vilasuso gardens, in the city council of Carral.

The introduction of species makes these vegetation spaces practically small botanical gardens and, at the same time, custodians of the Galician flora and ornamental sensitivity. This also explains the tradition of considering that it was here that the first eucalyptus trees of Europe were planted, sent by the Galician bishop, native of Tui, Fray Rosendo Salvado, who occupied the diocese of New Nursia in Australia.

The decorative species compose the most numerous and striking group, with great diversity, emphasizing the spruce of the Caucasus, the bojes, the yews, the cypress of Lawson ... etc.

In the garden there is a small jetty that, besides being used as a place of leisure, served to gentlemen and servants of the pazo to cross the estuary before the construction of the bridge of the Pedrido. From 1997 the "garden of the word" was created, in which illustrious visitors plant a tree and at their feet leave a message for the future.

The pazo is located in the town hall of Bergondo, also famous for the sagas of celebrated families of goldsmiths that left these lands. This is the heart of the region of Las Mariñas, also called "Mariñas dos Condes" in reference to the counts of Traba and Andrade, very active between Betanzos and Pontedeume, towns that the visitor of Mariñán must know.

According to Garcia Pita the term "Bergondo" would have a Celtic or Germanic origin. In the first case it would refer to King Brigo and in the second to a mountainous elevation or "Berg". In the thirteenth century it is mentioned as " Burgundíum".

It is necessary to emphasize in this city council the presence of the Benedictine monastery of San Salvador de Bergondo, from the 12th century. The cozy town councils of Sada and Oleiros, with their beaches and peacocks are not far, are also a recommended visit from the pazo de Mariñán. Like A Coruña or Compostela.

Within the civil architecture of the area it is necessary to emphasize the existence of other pazos like those of Armuflo and Casal (XIX century) or the Pazo de Baldomir in Santa María de Guísamo from the 17th century.

Another architecture that is necessary to mention is the aforementioned Ponte do Pedrido, main reference for the visitor who does not know the way to the pazo. It was built between 1939 and 1942 by Eduardo Torroja and is one of the first uses of cement in Galician public works.

Anyone who comes to Mariñán should not miss the opportunity to visit the region and stop in the lands of Betanzos and Pontedeume, towns of marked historical and artistic interest.

Highlighting in Betanzos the medieval churches of Santa María do Azogue, of interesting flamenco altarpiece; the church of Santiago; San Francisco, an authentic funeral museum for its outstanding tombs, including that of the knight Fernán Pérez de Andrade; the Mariñas Museum; the modernist encyclopedic garden, a curious "kitch" work done by the philanthropic brothers García Naveira, and the balconies, taverns and inns where it is necessary to taste the soft wine and sausages that have always made Betanzos famous. The itinerary can be extended by discovering remains of all time in the neighboring municipalities of Cesuras, Oza, Coirós, Irixoa ... the sacred mountain of Espenuca dominates the surprising landscape of Chelo and the Caneiros on the banks of the Mandeo.

Another obligatory route is to go to Pontedeume, passing by Miño, Perbes, with primitive Romanesque churches like San Xoán de Vilanova, the one of the Breamo mountain, Centroña and the Marola sea. To enter Pontedeume, complex presided by the Andrade works, the tower, the bridge with its symbols in stone, the mountain and the bear .... In the walk under its houses with porches, with balconies and galleries is a permanent invitation to taste in its inns its good gastronomy. This itinerary can be extended visiting the Fragas do Eume, with the Monastery of Caaveiro, the Monastery of Monfero, or continue to Cabanas, A Capela, the beautiful estuary of Ares, with Redes, Mugardos, entering Ferrolterra ... crossroads which introduce us to As Pontes or take us to the sanctuary of Teixido and Bares.



Reopening from May 29th, 2020.

Visits to the pazo's garden: from 09:00 to 21:00h every day.
Visits to the interior of the pazo: closed for renovations. The reopening will be published on the website of the Provincial Council, predictably after mid-June.

Visitors phone service : +34 673 050 399


  • The entrance to the places must be done with a mask that each person must wear, except for children under 6 years.
  • Distance rules are compulsory and the maximum capacity indicated for each venue must be respected.
  • There is hydroalcoholic gel at your disposal.

The visitor assistance services offered by the A Coruña Provincial Council are free.

Additional Information: Heritage and Contracting Service. Phone .: +34 981 080 314 / +34 981 080 300.