Ponte Vedra, Florida versus Pontevedra, Spain

Amancay Tapia

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Photo of Pontevedra by Concello de Pontevedra

There are many cities around the world and particularly in the United States, that share the same name with cities in Europe.

Let’s look at two places that share the same name but are in two different continents. Pontevedra, in Spain and Ponte Vedra Beach, in Florida. Both on the Atlantic coast and both with wonderful beaches.

The European Pontevedra, is situated in the Spanish region of Galicia in northwest Spain and it is only two hours away by car from neighbouring Portugal.

They speak Spanish and Galician, a language that has many similarities with Portuguese.

The city is also the capital of the province with the same name, and it is situated in the stunning “Rias Baixas” of Galicia.

The Rias Baixas (lower bays in the South of the region), together with the “Rias Altas” (North of Galicia) are unique in the European continent.There is nothing as rich in biodiversity in Europe as these jagged inlets .

The small city of Pontevedra takes the name from Latin, “Pontem veteram” (old bridge). It is the name the Romans gave to the city which is known locally as “Boa Vila” ( Galician for good/ welcoming city ) "Pontem veteram" refers to the first bridge built in the city by the Romans. And "Ponte", means bridge in Galician.

The origins of this city are ancient. There are prehistoric cave engravings that point to primitive settlements, probably formed during the integration of Gallaecia (old Galicia) into the Roman Empire around 1st century BC.

During the 12th century, the city became an important commercial centre and nowadays the city of Pontevedra, with its well preserved medieval town centre, is well known because of its urban planning, pedestrianisation and good quality of life.

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Photo by Concello de Pontevedra, Spain

In Pontevedra, the streets belong to the people, not the cars and the city centre is almost car free.This has won the city many international awards in recent years.

But whereas you can see the city of Pontevedra in one day, more time is needed to explore the whole province of Pontevedra.

Within the province, there is the city of Vigo, the largest city in Galicia.The Vigo estuary is the city best kept secret and it includes natural paradises such as the Cies Islands, whose waters can be quite cold but whose colour remind us of the Caribbean.

Then, there is the Ria de Arousa, the greatest mussel production area in the world.

Mussels are like the flowers of the sea in the Rias Baixas, and you can always see Bateas (Galician mussel farms ) near the coast neatly arranged.

Cambados, the capital of the excellent Albariño wine and home of the Ferfiñans square, just as beautiful as the Obradoiro square in nearby pilgrim capital of the world, Santiago de Compostela.

All over the province of Pontevedra and in fact Galicia, you can enjoy “Pulpo a Feira” (Octupus Galician style) or seafood. Galicia is one of the best seafood destinations in the world and the Rias Baixas is the largest producer of shellfish in Spain with crabs, clams, cockles, lobsters, goose Barnacles and oysters all in abundance . The food is delicious and just like Galicia, very unpretentious.

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Sunrise in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Image by Kevin Ramsey from Pixabay

Across the Atlantic from the city of Pontevedra, there is the upmarket and picturesque Ponte Vedra Beach, a resort town on Florida northeast coast and tucked between bustling Jacksonwille and historic St. Augustine.

Originally, this “old Florida” seaside community was known as “Mineral City” because the National Lead Company used to extract minerals from the area.

Eventually, the demand for minerals being mined at “Mineral City” were less and less profitable and the name was changed to Ponte Vedra when the beautiful coastal community became a touristic resort.

The reason why the name was changed is unknown but there is a solid theory that claims it was Joseph Stehlin and his wife the ones that chose to name the seaside community "Ponte Vedra".

Joseph Stehlin was in charge of managing the community when the National Lead Company started to build a golf-course and clubhouse, and turned the beachfront whose sand was rich in minerals into the upscale and pretty resort community it is today.

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Blue Heron in Ponte Vedra, Image by Kevin Ramsey from Pixabay

When looking for names for the newly named community, they read that Cristobal Columbus was born in Pontevedra, Spain and decided to change the original name of “Mineral City” to “Ponte Vedra”.

Ponte Vedra Beach is a charming, upper-income tourist resort area with excellent quality of life, great Golf resorts, beautiful gardens, luxurious homes and stunning rivers and marshes. It also has a downtown area, the newly developed "Sawgrass Village" with loads of dining options and plenty of shops.

We can’t wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to be over to enjoy these beautiful places again!

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