The Mayoress responds

Neveras de Fixó

The Neveiras de Fixó, dating from the 17th century, were exploited by the monks of the Mosteiro de Aciveiro, who obtained one of their main sources of income from them.

The ice trade was one of the most profitable activities in the area during that century, as the Camiño Real, or Royal Road, which linked the Mosteiro de Aciveiro with Ribeiro, passed through these mountains.

In spite of the great economic decline of the 17th century, a remarkable trade in ice and snow took off at this time throughout the Iberian Peninsula. These secondary products mainly supplied the urban centres, although their consumption also extended to villages and other places. The trade in ice and snow was mainly used for three purposes: firstly, to preserve foodstuffs; secondly, to cool food and drink and to make ice creams and sorbets; and finally, it had a therapeutic use in medicine.

In the Middle Ages, as in other regions of Western Europe, the exploitation and use of snow and ice had already been exploited by the Romans, although its use fell into decline from the time of the lower Empire until its total disappearance in Christian Europe during the Middle Ages. On the other hand, its use persisted among the Arabs. And so this second stage of the use of ice and snow in the West and considered by some authors as an innovation imported from the Near East. The urban centres of Islamic Mesopotamia were great consumers of cold drinks, and this fashion slowly spread to all the peoples of the Mediterranean.

In Spain, the first documentary references to the construction of icehouses date back to the late Middle Ages. This and the chronology that is also assumed for the primitive Galician iceboxes, which were presumably built on the initiative of various Cistercian monasteries during the 12th and 13th centuries, although their peak in terms of the production and marketing of snow and ice occurred at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century. Its consumption increased throughout this century until it became completely widespread in the 18th century.

The Fixó-Portela MVMC is integrated in the “Serra do Candán” natural area, included in the Natura 2000 Network and in the Galician Network of Protected Spaces.

Rehabilitation and enhancement

The City Council has just started the renovation work on the Neveiras de Fixó, unique enclosures dedicated to the production of ice in the Middle Ages by the monks of Aciveiro, and wants the public to participate in these works during the archaeological excavations, for which it is already programming visits to them.

This investment, budgeted at 103,000 euros, arises from a collaboration agreement signed last August between the Galician Tourism Agency and the City Council, which are the two entities that will finance this work.

The work has two parts, the first of which, consisting of the excavation and archaeological study of the area, although only recently begun, has already borne fruit, as a new building has just been discovered in the area which could be a third refrigerator.

In view of this and the interest in these unique infrastructures, visits to the works are already being organised. The intention is that the schoolchildren of the municipality can visit them during the week, and a letter is being prepared to inform the schools, and the general public can access them on a Saturday.

Senda das neveiras

Visitors can discover this place by following the Senda das Neveiras, a pre-tour through the most interesting points of the landscape and heritage of Fixó – Potela.

From the viewpoint of Grobas, you can cross the slope of the Pena de Malpaso and walk along the top of the devesa, until you find a beautiful natural viewpoint from where you will have privileged views of the abandoned village of Grobas.

From the Pena de Malpaso, you can go down the east side of the slope to the Regueiro de Malpaso and follow its course alongside the riverside vegetation through the valleys.

Among pine forests you will discover the Neveiras and, a few metres away, the Mámoa de Rofete, both of which are ethnographic assets of great archaeological interest listed in the General Inventory of the Cultural Heritage of Galicia. Other places of interest that you can visit are the Muíño do Porto and the “devesas”.

Following this archaeological work, which is currently underway, the two “neveiras”, which are in a good state of preservation, will be restored. and which will be treated differently. The idea is to carry out surface consolidation work, giving priority to the existing structure and without direct intervention on the original construction elements, so that only the necessary protection and cleaning work will be carried out to enhance their value.

Each “neveira” will receive specific and differentiated actions. Thus, a protective element will be installed in the first of the coolers to ensure the safety of the infrastructure and visitors, while the second, which is much clearer of vegetation, will also be protected, but with different dimensions and configuration to offer other sensations. A spiral staircase will also be installed which, without resting on the original structure, will allow access to the interior of the “neveira”.

This will be complemented by brochures and information panels.


Keeps you up to date with the excavations

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