Heritage Travel, Historic Preservation, Random DJB Thoughts
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Taking the Waters at Balneario de Mondariz

Balneario de MondarizI am in the midst of a brief work trip to Galicia…and if you don’t know where that is, well neither did I just a few weeks ago.

Galicia – the Switzerland of Spain – is the small portion of land that blocks Portugal’s northern border from touching the Atlantic Ocean. It is hilly (hence the Swiss reference), with a fascinating landscape that is matched by its unique history.

I am here, with colleagues from around the world, for an executive committee meeting of the International National Trusts Organisation (or INTO).  We are being hosted by one of our member Trusts – the Tesouros de Galicia – and several of my colleagues joined a contingent from Tesouros de Galicia in completing 140 kilometers of what may be Galicia’s most famous pilgrimage:  the Camino de Santiago that ends at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

After a much too complicated trip to arrive (never fly Ryan Air – for those of  you old enough, think a bad People’s Express experience), I joined my colleagues in Santiago de Compostela for our first meetings at the Facultad de Geografia e Historia, Praza da Universidade. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have any facilities in my college that looked like this – and especially not the History and Geography departments!

Santiago University

We left later on Saturday to go to Mondariz, a beautiful little town that along with Santiago and the nearby city of Vigo, made up a trio of must-see places for the Edwardian tourists of Britain in the early 20th century. Thanks to our hosts, we were able to stay in the beautiful and historic spa known as Balneario de Mondariz. The spa put us in a bubble in the middle of the troubled Spanish economy, but it didn’t take a long walk away from the town center to see the abandoned homes and poverty.

The spa features the waters that were once enjoyed by the King of Spain and Edwardian tourists from England.  The buildings are  beautiful and nestled in the countryside.  This view of a chapel in the mist was what I saw when I opened my window shades in the morning.

Mondariz Church in mist

Entrance to the Spa at Mondariz

There are several wonderful buildings once – or still – associated with the spa, including the old hotel, and the grounds.

Hotel at Mondariz

Garden at the Mondariz Spa

The springs themselves are highlighted within a publicly accessible building, seen at the top of the post and here (where the water bubbles beneath the sign).

Spa Waters at Mondariz

After our meetings wrapped up, we toured two local Galicia landmarks: a late Medieval castle, and a wonderful set of ruins – the Castro de Trona dating back more than 2,000 years.

Galician castle

Galacian ruins

Mount of Holy Name of Jesus Parish

Galician hills

And yes, when the meetings and tours were over, I was able to “take the waters” as they say, at Balneario de Mondariz. What a relaxing way to end the day and prepare for dinner with good friends and colleagues from St. Lucia, India, England, Scotland, and more.

The dome over the pool at Mondariza

Yes, I was floating around somewhere under that dome.  Ahhhhhhhhh.

Galicia Meal with INTO Ex Comm

Perhaps I’m now ready for three flights and all-day travel to get home tomorrow evening.

More to come…



I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.


  1. Pingback: A New Adventure | More to Come...

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