Betanzos is located in la Coruna province. It is situated some 20 minutes inland from la Coruna city and 40 minutes from Santiago de Compostela. It is one of several traditional Galician towns bidding to make an impact on foreign tourism.
Betanzos certainly has a plenty going for it. Firstly its location makes it simple to find with the AP9 and A6 toll roads running close by. Secondly it is a town with a lot to offer, especially to the visitor interested in medieval districts, grand churches, town gates, festivals and the genuine undiluted version of Galicia.
Photo, looking towards the alameda (plaza) in the old town of Betanzos
Like most Galician towns, the older parts of Betanzos are situated around an estuarial river, or in this case the convergence of two, the rio Mendo and the rio Mandeo. One of Betanzosís festivals involves the decorating of its many local boats for a floral flotilla.
Fiestas of all kinds are a significant feature in the life of this town and a three day medieval festival in early July is certainly one with significant tourist appeal. (We missed it by one day.)
As you enter Betnazos you immediately notice the white galeria balconied buildings around the riverside and as you look up into the old town this combination of white glass facades and red tiled roofs cuts its way into the hill. There is no formal town plan and no regularity or symmetry in the way that the town has evolved and this is what gives Betanzos its special character and post card appearance.
Most visitors will enter Betanzos across the Ponte Nova (bridge) and the first challenge is to find some parking. Historic towns were not designed for cars, let alone parking them and you may need to be patient and drive around for several minutes. Following the route that runs parallel with one of the rivers offers one of the best parking opportunities, but patience is required.
The best way for a tourist to enter the old district is through one of the original town gates, e.g. the Arco da Ponte Nova, and this can be found as an archway in the town wall close to the bridge. Once through this gateway you are within the original boundaries of Betanzos and a narrow street leads both to the right and to the left. The option to the left takes you up through the old quarter on a steep route with streets leading from it to the right. This area has a number of shops and is typical of many Galician towns.
Left, one of the original points of entry to Betanzos.
The town occupies the spot originally known as the Castro de Untia, an ancient settlement, and has a history that has seen it gain economic success as well as benefiting from the philanthropic activities of two of its sons in the late 19th century. Betanzos really is one of Galiciaís best historic towns and although the occasional ruinous building is present, most of the old district is in a good state of repair and enjoyable and interesting to walk around.
Left, one of many narrow and steep hills leading to and from the old town.