From Rúa de San Lourenzo, crossing Ruela dos Gatos, we come to the banks of the River Sarela and the old tannery of the O Carme de Abaixo neighbourhood, which has now been converted into a luxury housing complex.
This area reminds us of the important economic role that was played by rivers during centuries. The Sarela, despite its short length (it rises and ends in the municipality of Santiago), was the site of around eight tanneries. Although most of them are now in ruins, we can still see clear signs of their past influence. These artisanal industries, which reached their splendour during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, converted hides into leather that was ready to be used to make shoes, straps, cartridge belts…
Beside the old O Carme de Abaixo factory, and linked to it by a level passageway, is theConvent of Las Oblatas, a series of 19th-century buildings that have been converted into a luxury hotel. The `Oblatas´, also called `arrepentidas´ (repentant ones), were the nuns that traditionally took in women leading a `licentious´ life. Their location in this part of the city was very convenient, due to the proximity of the area that was traditionally occupied by `common women´: the O Pombal neighbourhood. Considered a semi-rural, marginal area until recently, due to the presence of the city´s `bawdyhouses´, this neighbourhood has now undergone a series of urban development projects, thereby making it a privileged urban expansion area.
Where the O Pombal and O Carme de Abaixo neighbourhoods meet, beside the river and old bridge, there is the Chapel of O Carme de Abaixo, a discrete 18th-century sanctuary.