The "Pazo de Oca" (The Oca Estate) is one of the most famous gallegan pazos. The collection of its monumental archictecture and ornemental gardens, demonstrates in its splendid fashion, the important charecteristics of a society, that up until it disappeared in the nineteenth century, was divided into compartmetalized social classes.
This instructive example of rural aristocratic housing in Galicia called "Pazos" hows us what made up this social structure. The aristocracy, the church, and the peasant made up this now defunct society. This rural world evolved at the same time that feudal cities changed and disappeared.
During this years saying of economic growth, was the period when the architectonic, ornamental, and botanical world advanced. During the cultural rebirth, the great scientific and geographic discoveries, and the new botanical discoveries from America and the favorable climate of Galicia offered the aristocratic class of this area new and unlimited possibilities to improve their gardens.
The famous saying "large house, chapel, birdhouse and cypress trees this is Pazo", that defines these splendid aristocratic country residences acquired its maximun splendor here, in the parish of San Estevo de Oca, located in the urban town of Estrada in the province of Pontevedra, very close to Santiago de Compostela and also near the valleys formed by the Ulla and Umia rivers, the area is called "The land of Tabeiròs", which is almost the geographic center of Galicia.
The great house which it is called traditionatelly, shows its magnificent size, also has the adjacent small palaces all of which are made of granite. The castles and medieval towers of the early nobility bestowed them to their descendents. The complex of the Oca Estate composes today a public plaza, which is highlighted by the baroque great house and the reverence tower reminiscent of a medieval period reminding us of a primitive castle. At the rear of the plaza there is a chapel and an elevated walkway that was the private access of its proprietors. Closing the Plaza is the housing of the early servants of this complex. Upon arriving at this location, a typical gallegan cross (cruceiro) offers the first illustration distinguishing the originality of the gardens of the gallegan "Pazos".
The adjoining chapel to the "Pazo" clearly illustrates the association for centuries between the aristocracy and the church. The landlords had a direct access to the chapel from the main house by the elevated passage, without the need to mingle with the servants. Built in the shape of a latin cross it forms wiyh the palace and elegant array, perfectly attuned to the baroque architecture. This complex is dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua.
The birdhouse is an economic symbol demonstrating ties to the land and farming and raising livestock. Many of the "Pazos" are a prolongation of roman villages occupied by germanic families from the Kingdom of the Suevo of Galicia and that the circumstances of history converted the towers and castles of medieval times to aristocratic rural palaces in the XVII and XVIII centuries.
The cypress of the famous saying, symbol of inclement weather demonstrates thet the "Pazos - Estates" are palces that preserve large gardens that for special circumstances of architecture and decoration, botanical variety and design, merging the special characteristics of the gallegan climate, have created an unique identity for their gardens.
The manor is made up of 14 hectares and has an altitude of 170 meters above sea leval. The layout of this rural estate is made up of four elements, buildings, gardens, farmland and forests .
The front wall and interior are decorated with the family´s coat of arms whom were also tne landlords of thr Ulloa, Sotomayor, Sarmiento, Neira, Luaces, Ozores and Gayoso estates. The first known change of ownership happened during the war of independence called "The War of Beltraneja", fought between the daughter of Henry IV, the King of Castilla , and the Princess Juana and her aunt Isabel, the wife of Fernando of Aragon, whom were to known as the Catholic King and Queen.
Suero de Oca lost his castle to the army of Alonso II of Fonseca, archbishop of Snatiago de Compostela. He was captured and made prisoner with his wife Maria Gómez de Sotomayor, and died in poverty jailed by the archbishop whom was loyal to Isabel of Castilla.
The war of the Irmandina rebellion, the war for the succession to the throne of Castille between the legitimate heirs of Juana and her ount Isabel, the wars between gallegan nobles, and wars between them and the archbishops of Compostela took place in the second half of the fifteenth century. Because of these happenings the archbishops of Santiago of Compostela conquered the castle of Oca in 1477.
The complex was seriously damaged and the height of the towers was decreased by the damage. The ownership belonged to mitra compostelana until 1570 as the abadengo property. At that time it was turned over the King Philip II whom then sold it in 1588 to Maria of Neira and Luaces. Her grandson, Gonzalo de Neira Luaces and Bermudez de Castro, gave it to his nephnew vhom taking possession of this estate was one of the very old and powerful aristocratic gallegan family the Gayosos.
These are the family members that modified the estate to its present form, following the preferred taste of thet time in Europe and copying their aristocratic neighbors converting the Oca into a grand estate. Andrés Gayoso Neira Mendoza and Ozores of Sotomayor, Vizconde of San Estevo of Oca with his wife Constanza Arias Ozores, Marquesa of San Miguel of Penas and La Mota, started the repairs thet fashioned the estate in what is today.
© Daniel Domínguez / E.Valent / José C. García - 2006