There are places in the world that seem to be predestined to figure is some form or another in history. They seemed to be touched by a magic wand that touches them time and time again for varying reasons wich makes them unique.
What are there in common with camellias, small monasteries, Sir Fanacis Drake and Jules Verne ? For these many interrelated events all mentioned above bring us to a special place, that is the "Pazo Torres Agrelo".
There are few places where historic circumstances and majestic beauty come together like this location that has been converted by it´s a present owners into a magnificent hotel . The beautiful architectural structure with it´s garden of camellias creates a splendid setting with a marvelous view overlooking the Rande bay (Bahía de Rande) and San Simon island (Isla de San Simon), located in the pictoresque "Ría de Vigo".
Close by, within walking distance from the hotel, another beautiful location with some of the most beautiful camellias in Europe can be found mixed in with exotic trees, all planted in the 19th. century wich is the garden of the Soutomaior castle (Castillo de Soutomaior).
The "Pazo Torres Agrelo" was built on the same geounds that has the Rubin Sotomayor castle. Before this happened in the same location during the 14th. century a franciscan convent was built, suffered a fire and was restored but was abandoned and fell into ruinous state after loosing the people cloistered within it.
Afterwards the present rectangular building with two beaconed towers was constructed over the old monastery keeping the old part in between the towers, which contains the old arms and a sphere.
Inside in the reception hall beautiful Triana tiles can be seen next to a spectacular walnut stairway and gorgeous stained glass windows.
Sitting in the shade of the camellia trees in the garden of the "Pazo Torres Agrelo", you can enjoy the magnificent view of Rande bay and San Simon island, and contemplate that during the times of the Roman Empire, oysters were collected here and sent to the Emperors. Today these oysters are famous throughout the world by their name of "Arcade oysters" (ostras de Arcade).
The smal island thet is located in front of "Pazo Torres Agrelo" gardens, has had historic events, like the battle of Sir Frances Drake and others that caused the franciscan monks to retreat from this island to Agrelo place.This is one of thr most famous battles in european and world history thet was called the battle of Rande bay ( la batalla de Rande).
The Indies fleet, called the silver fleet, anchored itself in this bay. It did this to protect itself from the attacks of the english-dutch navy. These ships came from the Americas loaded with silver and gold and were to be protected by the french navy. During a terrible battle the spanish and french navies were sunk. The english-dutch navy took part of the treasure, unloading it on land saved another part, but the largest portion was lost when the ships carrying the treasure were sunk. During the last few centuries until today many attempts have ben made to try and recover the lost treasure without success bringing to us the world famous writer Jules Verne. In his novel "20.000 leagues under the sea", JulesVerne describes a place where captain Nemo obtains his treasures for the "Nautilus" coing there when necessary to snatch from the "Ría de Vigo, the sunken treasure that lies in Rande bay since this famous battle.
All these events happened in he area today called the "Rias Bajas", that has an exceptional climate and soil within the region of Galicia that allows camellias and other exotic flowers to thrive here as they would in their natural habitat of origen.
© José C. García / Daniel Domínguez / E. Valent