One thing, that cruising offers, is the variation of what to see after reaching the ports. The excursions were classified by how much time off the ship you wanted, what you were interested in seeing, and the level of your mobility. Or you could just go ashore and see things on your own. We personally liked to choose the longer excursions that took us away from the port and to places it would have been harder to see on our own. It is nice getting on a bus and then get dropped off where you can easily walk to the sights and then when you are done, get back on the bus. We really went to some out of the way places, one of them was the Garden of Pazo de Mariñan, after our visit to Betanzos. The garden was a half-hour drive from Betanzos and it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere! It is always exciting to see a garden and especially one like this one.
The Garden is located on the banks of the Batanzos and Mandeo Rivers in the province of Coruna. The name of the garden is derived from the last noble families that lived here from medieval times to the present. The garden and estate were given to the government of Coruna with the death of the last Senor (Knight) of Láncera, who had no descendants. The Pazo was first built, with defensive towers, in the fifteenth century and it’s owner is remembered as the undefeated defender of the city of La Coruna against the attacks from Count Benavente. Over the years the Pazo has been modified for modern times and now is open for tours, only on special days, and during the big Easter celebration. The roads leading here are two-lane, with little to no traffic.
The entryway into the garden and Pazo………………
The entrance walk features giant, and I mean giant, 160 foot banana trees, walnut trees from India, and HUGE century old eucalyptus trees along a stoned road that is bordered by two rows of trees. Eucalyptus seeds were brought to Galicia by the monk, Rosendo Salvado, the archbishop of the New Nursery in Australia and were distributed to his friends and owners of the Pazos.
The tree formation in the center is made from a rare 8 +1 combination of Camellias that were planted in this design. It now looks like one very large camellia bush! Can you imagine what the entrance drive looks like in Spring when these camellias on either side of the drive are in bloom? Unbelievable!
From the Pazo all along the entrance drive is a trough that I imagine once held water, which would have made a stunning entrance also.
Daughter, Josefina Josepha de Oca y Ribadeneya, redesigned the shape of the Pazo from the “L” to the shape of a “U”, which is it’s present form.
The Pazo Chapel was added by Costanza das Mariñas in the fifteenth century to honor Saint Roque and not completed until the eighteenth century.
From the chapel we take the stairs down to another part of the garden………… to the Parterre de Boj……
Past the fruit trees……..
The Parterre de Boj, with it’s french geometrical design of boxwoods, is divided into sixteen rectangles in four plots and is the crown jewel of the master garden. It is known for it’s complexity in maintenance. I’ll say!
The Parterre de Boj overlooks the Betanzos River…………
I thought these plants, a type of lily? were unusual, no leaves……….. At first, I thought they were artificial……..then I got up closer…….
The trees in the surrounding forest gardens were beautiful also…….
And there was a spot to sit a spell………..and just take everything in……
During the twentieth century the gardens started to decay and the grounds were given to the local government of Coruna. They converted the Pazo into a home for underprivileged children and then a renovation process took over from 1972 until 1975. Generous donations have allowed the Pazo and countryside garden to flourish. The Pazo is now used for special events and the gardens are free to the public. The latest innovation and design is the “Garden of Words,” where famous celebrities have planted a tree and written a message that is buried at the foot of the tree.
Our last stop, before returning the ship, was a quick look-see at a sculptured piece along the shores of the river, a few miles down the line. The artwork overlooks a small island that looked like it also could have featured a pazo or a small monastery at one time.
The artwork represents the thousands of men that left Spain during the Civil War, because there was no work and people were starving. Many went to South America.
I hope you have enjoyed our walk through this beautiful garden today! See you soon from La Coruna!