Monte Penide/Monte Mirallo is located on the southern bank of the ría (coastal inlet formed by drowned river valley) of Vigo, in the southest of the Municipality of Redondela. It forms part of a small, low, mountain chain, whose highest peaks (i.e. Monte Penide; Trasmañó) only reach 450m.
It also lies at the northern end of the mountainous dorsal that surrounds the valley of Fragoso in the form of peneplains. Along with the mountain of Vixiador, Monte Penide marks the endpoint of natural communication routes that link the peaks of this dorsal, with these paths then descending to the coast. This flat land is also the location of a natural pass between the Valley of Fragoso, where the city of Vigo lies today, and the depression of the river Albedosa (Redondela).
Although this mountain range is relatively low in terms of elevation, it has significant visual control over its immediate surroundings, having viewing points in all directions. There are successive views of the mountain’s immediate environs, over distances of various kilometres, along the paths that encircle the mountain.
The good visibility afforded by the mountain was exploited by prehistoric peoples who settled in the area or engraved rocks in zones that stand out for their visual control over the surroundings. The petroglyphs of Campo da Rata, Alto da Porteliña, Poza da Lagoa, Coto do Corno, and the relatively more recent carvings of Castro de Negros, were true viewing points in relation to the west, the setting of the sun, or to control the routes of passage:
The viewing point of Coto da Arca, with views over the depression of Albedosa and the Meridian Depression.
The viewing point of Castro de Negros, with views over the depression of the river Maceiras (which coincides with the Meridian Depression of Galicia) and Monte Galleiro.
Further north, in Coto do Corno, or a little lower down, in the place known as Curva da rata, there are views over the mouth of the river Albedosa, the head of the ría of Vigo and the island of San Simón.
Following to the west, the viewing point of Poza da Lagoa and, lower down, in the Coto Fenteira, there are views of the entire ría and the straits of Rande.
Following to the southwest, the viewing point of Trasmañó, in Suelo del Rato, has visual control over the southern side of the ría.
A characteristic of all the peaks is the formation of brañas (wet, shallow, upland basins), which subsequently become the sources of different streams that flow into the ría of Vigo, for example the river Fondón or that of las Cabras. In contrast, these areas also have a strong tendency to experience drought in the summer period.
With respect to natural species, despite the extensive eucalyptus and pine plantations (for commercial exploitation), large areas of native forest are preserved, comprised mostly of oak, chestnut, and particularly cork oaks (an implanted species representative of Monte Penide) that grow between the eucalyptus plantations, reclaiming their natural place.
This forest also stands out for the wide range of animal species it contains and maintains: birds (most of the common species: buzzards, jays, woodpeckers…); mammals (wild boars, foxes, mustelidae: badger, wild ferret, weasel); reptiles (Montpellier snake, viper…); amphibians (salamanders, frogs..)…
The unspoiled peneplain of Monte Penide is surrounded by different parishes and population centres, including from east to west: San Xoán de Cabeiro (735 inhabitants, according to the census of 2005), San Estevo de Negros (514 inhab.), San Andrés de Cedeira (2,074 inhab.) and San Vicente de Trasmañó (1,044 inhab.).
These parishes present a form of dispersed habitation, typical of the Galician Rías Bajas, which completely surround Monte Penide, with the result that there are very few undeveloped areas in its immediate surroundings.
THE COMMUNITIES OF THE MOUNTAINS
Some of the land on the mountain is organised and managed by local Communities of the Mountains (Comunidades de Montes Vecinales), one for each parish, while the rest is divided into small parcels of private property.
The Communities of the Mountains are engaged in the exploitation of forest resources, reinvesting part of their profits in the creation of parish services, such as auditoriums and cultural centres (one in each parish), among other things.
The population is primarily involved in the secondary and tertiary sectors (factories and services in Vigo and the surrounding region), with fewer and fewer people involved in the primary sector (fishing and agriculture).
The past fishing vocation of Redondela is attested by the existence in this area of “fisherman type” houses, with high roofs and attics for the storage of nets and tackle. The long-established importance of farming is preserved in the tales and popular stories which record the presence of wheat fields until relatively recently on the peak of Penide, where the remains of boundaries and fences are dispersed over the mountain, including between the mámoas of Chan da Cruz (particularly in the area of Cabeiro). It is probable that this intensive exploitation affected the archaeological sites of the mountain.
Agricultural exploitations are also reflected in the existence of mills, which are very abundant on the river Fondón, which has more than 20 under communal management.
Over recent years this area has become a dormitory town and residence for the city of Vigo, and especially for Redondela. The attractiveness of this area is accentuated by the good views and proximity of the mountain, which makes it a special place for leisure activities, hiking, jogging, and in general, enjoying nature.
The abundance of water and, in contrast, the lack of sanitation and water supply channels, means that the residents also organise themselves into water communities to exploit the hydric resources of the mountain.
Stone extraction is another of the traditional exploitations of the mountain, with the result that there is no part of Monte Penide which has not been visibly altered by quarrying work carried out by traditional stone masons, particularly affecting the mámoas (mounds) and resulting in the disappearance of their megalithic chambers. Area-specific stone construction techniques also differentiate adjacent population centres. For example, in Cabeiro the traditional houses are predominantly built with schist slabs, while in Trasmañó the construction is of granite masonry.
The peneplain of Monte Penide has acted as a place of passage since prehistory, giving rise to the installation of different cultures through time, with the mountain’s landscape evolving with them.
Dispersed surface finds dating to the Palaeolithic indicate a very ancient occupation of this territory, possible since the Lower Palaeolithic in the Pleistocene period (more than 100,000 years ago). However, the Virtual Museum focuses on the more visible remains left by more recent prehistoric communities.
MEDIEVAL AND MODERN PERIOD
The history of this area is intricately connected with that of two nearby population centres, Redondela (to which it belongs territorially) and Vigo.
During the Medieval period the lands of Redondela, along with the current municipalities of Cangas and Vigo, pertained to the Archbishopric of Santiago. Vilavella, the small enclave within Redondela (still separated from the main centre) belonged at that time to the Bishopric of Tui. Only the parish of Cedeira had a different lordship, belonging to various noble families.
The people of these parishes were also affected by the historic dynamic of social relations during the Medieval and Modern periods, caused by the implantation of a lordship during the Early Medieval period, with all the consequences associated with a hierarchical social organization: taxes, forced recruitments, famine, pandemics, emigration…Notable in this epoch is the Naval Battle of Rande with its forced levies, the requisitioning of carts and products, the fleeing of the inhabitants of Redondela to the nearby mountain.
With industrialization and the arrival of Catalan entrepreneurs in the ría of Vigo and in Redondela, there was a change in activity with more inhabitants becoming involved in the industrial sector, particularly in the nearby canneries of Redondela, and later on in the manufacturing businesses of Vigo (especially automotive).
From Redondela (south):
From Redondela take the road that leads to the airport of Peinador; after around 4km there is a turn to the right that brings you to Cabeiro. After reaching the last house there is a flat area where there is a football pitch, in an area known as Portocabeiro (already in the environs of Monte Penide/Monte Mirallo); around 200m further on there is a cross to the right, with an asphalt road that brings you to the mound cemetery of Chan da Cruz, with King's Mound occupying a central position.
From Redondela (north):
From Redondela take the Pontevedra-Vigo road (N.552) in the direction of Vigo. 350m after a sharp left-turn bend, there is a turn off to the left that leads to the parish of Cedeira. Passing through this village and the Pazo of Torrecedeira, the asphalt track begins to rise through numerous, sharp bends. After around 3km you reach the recreation area of Poza da Lagoa. To reach King's Mound continue on the road to another crossroads, taking the left turn, through the village of Trasmaño de Arriba, after which you arrive at another crossroads on a sharp bend, once again taking the left turn, in the direction of Cabeiro and continuing straight for 1km until reaching King's Mound.
From Chapela and Rande:
On the national road 552, in an area known as O Alto da Encarnación (on the crossroads that descends towards Chapela by the Avd. de Vigo), you climb in the direction of Trasmañó crossing a narrow bridge over the A9 motorway. Continue straight on this rising asphalt road which has a steep slope and many sharp bends. Following this route you approach the village of Trasmañó and continue climbing towards the mountain. Once you have passed the cultural centre of Trasmañó, the convent, the playground and Pepe’s bar, you reach a crossroads on a sharp bend and take a left, passing through the village of Trasmañó de Arriba, afterwards reaching a crossroads on a sharp bend, once more taking the left in the direction of Cabeiro and continuing straight for 1km until reaching King's Mound
From the city of Vigo go in the direction of the airport of Peinador by the Avda. Del Aeropuerto, after passing a junction with Cantabria street, at 30m you climb towards the Monte da Madroa (direction Vigo-Zoo); the climb is steep taking you between the houses of the neighbourhood of San Paioa; reaching the square of the Zoo of Madroa, continue in the direction of the cemetery of Candeán, on the border between Redondela and Vigo. Once you reach the cemetery continue towards the Centro de Atención a Personas con Discapacidad Psíquica (Care Centre for People with Disabilities) of Redondela, where you take the first right; after two more junctions taking the right turn each time, and continuing to climb, you reach A Lamosa; from this point you continue to climb, and go straight, leaving on your left hand side the signpost for the village of Trasmañó de Arriba and its church, until you reach King's Mound on the road in the direction of Cabeiro.