At the head of its ría, Pontevedra is a delightful starting point for exploring the Rías Baixes. Its well-preserved old quarter is a dense network of pedestrian-only streets and handsome plazas flanked with elegant stone buildings, many of which are dressed in cascading flowers in spring and summer. The city got its start as a Roman settlement (its name comes from an old Roman bridge over the Río Lérez). As a powerful
base for fishing and international trade, Pontevedra was a major presence in the Atlantic in the 16th century. Nowadays, its streets and plazas are awash with bars and restaurants, and it can get very busy on weekends. It also has the only operating plaza de toros (bullring) in Galicia.