Very close to the cities of "La Coruna", the capital of the province with the same name, and "Betanzos of the Gentlemen" (Betanzos de los Caballeros), which in olden times was the capital of one of the seven gallegan provinces that made up the Kingdom of Galicia, the county of Bergondo is located, where one of the most famous "Pazos gallegos" can be found.
The "Pazo de Marinan" is located on the banks of the Betanzos and Mandeo rivers, in the area of the province of Coruna called "Marinnas dos Condes". This area is located in the region of Galicia called "Rias Altas". The "Pazo of Marinan" was called in earlier times "Quinta de Bergondo" until a few decades ago, the locals called it by the name of "Casa de Láncara". This name was given to it by its last owner, Gerardo Bermúdez de Castro y Suarez de Deza, whose name is made up of some of the noble gallegan families, that from medieval times to the present were the owners of this beautiful local.
Branches of medieval aristocratic families such as the Traba, Altamira, Lemos, Pimentel, Sotomayor, Oca, Sarmiento, Ulloa, Suarez de Deza, Osorio and others ended their linage in Bergondo with the death of the last Senor (Knight) of Láncara, upon his death and not having decedents this property with its Pazo and 1t hectares of land was given to the local Government of Coruna. This fortunate donation permits all of us to enjoy one of the best Pazos with wooded gardens in Galicia and Spain.
Like in most "Pazos gallegos" the "Pazo" was first built with its defensive towers, in this case the historical events of this location takes us to its most famous owner, the powerful Gómez Pérez das Marinas, that lived in the fifteenth century and is remembered as he famous undefeated defender of the city of La Coruna against the attacks from the Count of Benavente.
The modifications completed in successive centuries from its first function as a towered fortress converted this rural structure into a mixture different architectures from the seventeenth centuries arriving at its form today in the nineteenth century.
They were Diego de Oca and especially his daughter, Josefina Josefa de Oca y Ribadeneyra, that gave the structure its present form, first in the shape of an "L" then in the shape of a "U", both shapes similar to many "Pazos gallegos". This was the time when its varying types of architecture obtained its present form.
The entrance to the "Pazo", shows us thet we are in an area of special gardens with giant shade creating banana trees, walnut trees from India and huge eucalyptus trees, that all meet us at the entrance to these grounds that will take us to the "Pazo" up a stoned road that is bordered by two rows of trees that tells us at the entrance that the garden is made up of two different groups of botanical plants.
The spectacular arrangement of trees, becomes visible shortly after passing the "Piceas" planted on the left side of the stoned path, and on the right side a row of "Camellias" when planted were formed in the rare formation of 8 + 1.
On the rihgt side of the path we can find the Pazo´s Chapel, like all "Pazos", this structure could not be missing was first built by Costanza das Marinas in the fifthteen century in honor of Saint Roque. The style of construction was completed in the eighteenth century.
There is an italian influence including two beautiful stairways, an abundance of decorations, such as stone vases, a variety of carved faces that are believed to be those of butlers and administrators and also a selection of busts which seem to have latin american characteristics.
The stairway that is connected to the terrace gives a spectacular view of the sea and te "Parterre de boj" of the main garden, which is an architectural jewel. These stairways lead to the "Parterre" and the calm sea which is the mouth of the "Ría de Betanzos" which was a private access for the original owners to give access to the garden and banks of the river. The gardens are decorated with foutains, busts of people with philipines or latin american heritage and statutes of the Count of Mos, the father of Josefina de Oca y Rivadeneira. The use of gallegan granite carved with and italian design and the arrangement of the garden with its french design is divided geometrically and extends as far as possible to the sea gives a wonderful feeling to the visitor caused by the beautiful setting of this garden with its ornaments and baroque architecture.
Like most "Pazos" found in the countryside with its beautiful construction is highlighted by its precious botanical gardens that permits one to have the same wonderful feeling that the royalty of the past were priviliged to have because of the ornamental garden, the horticultural garden the fruit trees and the forest that are present. The garden was first completed in the eighteenth century, and was designed by the artistic gardener Martin Thiebe, who was well known for completing many gardens for others "Pazos" in the rgion during this time, he created the crowining jewel of the garden of the "Pazo de Marinan", the geometric design of the central garden even thought it doesn´t distract from the beauty of the rest of the garden it is so beautiful that many of the botanical jewels of the rest of the garden are overlooked.
The "Parterre de boj" (geometric design of the central garden) of the "Pazo de Marinan" is a masterpiece and only one other garden in Galicia parallels it, at least in its complexity for maintenance which is the unique garden for the cloistered monastery of San Lorenzo located in the town of Santiago de Compostela. Its geometric design made up of sixteen rectangles in four plots inserted into the rest of the garden that surrounds it, makes it a masterpiece in gardening.
Amongst the botanical varieties of this "Pazo", we can find many old camellia plants with multiple trunks next to others that have been planted throughout the decades that require an in deoth study to learn of all the varieties taht are present. All of them, Camellia japonica, have been added to the original collection of years past, gives a magnificent view and adds color to the garden during the winter and spring when these varieties bloom at these times.
Without a doubt he trees are spectacular with banana shade trees which are fifty meters tall, next to century old eucalyptus trees, portuguese cypress tees and black chopo trees, that are truly dignified partners for the precious "Parterre de boj" garden. Rmember that all eucalypyus trees of thet era were seeds brought to Galicia by the monk Rosendo Salvado the archbishop of the New Nursery in Australia, brought from that faraway continent ans distributed to his friends that were the proprietors of the galician pazos to be planted and decorative exotic trees.
The "Pazo de Marinan" acquired its architectural and botanical splendor in the nineteenth century under the guindance of Apolinar Suarez de Deza y Caamaño, when the land of the gardens near the famous parterre are integrated to obtain its actual design. It is probably during this period in the middle of the nineteenth century when the first camellia trees were planted with the monumental trees that give the gardens its regal appearance of today.
During the first decades of the twentieth century, the gardens started to decay until they were donated to the local Government of Coruna, which converted them into a location for underprivileged children. This ended in 1972 when a renovation process was started and completed in 1975. In reality from this moment the local Government recoveres the use of the "Pazo" for institutional events and renovated this "Pazo", little by little including the design and creation of new gardens like the garden of words where famous celebrities that visit these gardens plant a tree and writr a message that is buried at the foot of the tree. The "Pazo" is being used today as center of conferences and studies.
For the good fortune to us whom are camellia and garden lovers in general, this place which is now a public park permits us to visit it easily and free. Something to be thankful is that it is not rasy to find places like this, I request from this short writing that people visiting this beautiful place behave in a correct manner during their visit to conserve this monument in its entirety for future generations to enjoy, that came us from people with a extraordinary sense of beauty.
Daniel Domínguez Fernández “ O Kintos ”
O Grove, Febreiro, 2005
© José C. García / Daniel Domínguez / E. Valent