, which Vigo and
belong to, is the place which is devoted to God for its beauty,
people, good environment, wine and cuisine and its cultural
Galicia looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay with
over two thousand years of history behind it. To explore these lands
in the northwest of Spain, just on the border with Portugal, means a
chance to live the adventure of a lifetime, full of tradition, lush
landscapes and unique cities.
In Galicia, the frontiers between sea and land cancel each other
out. Both blend together along the 1,300 kilometres of coastline,
772 beaches, and five large Rias (long sea lakes that stretch
A traveller coming to Galicia soon discovers that, in this territory
situated in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, over two
thousand years of history have endured. Local history offers every
visitor its enigmatic castros (Celtic dwellings) with their peculiar
and in them, perhaps, discover the Celts, ancient occupants of an
evocative granite world (the castros at Baroña –Porto do Son–,
Viladonga –Castro do Rei– or Santa Tegra –A Guarda– are the best
The traveller can also see Gallaecia, the Roman Galicia. The great
Roman Wall in Lugo is still standing, a unique fortified enclosure
with a circular structure and a perimeter of 2,200 metres lasting
since the 3rd century. Something different is immediately
noticeable here. Clear connections with the Celtic peoples are to be
seen in this fertile land.
Galicia is also the land of a thousand rivers. Water runs into many
of them off the mountains of Os Ancares, O Courel or Pena Trevinca
(with altitudes over 1,800 metres). The father Miño River crosses
Galicia from northeast to southwest, to flow placidly out to sea at
the Portuguese frontier. The river channels are as varied as the
landscape: from the remarkable Sil Canyons (whose river is the
Miño’s main tributary, and which can be comfortably travelled by
catamaran) and the Ribeira Sacra, an area of uneven contours, ideal
for vine growing.
The way out of Galicia by sea is through its rias. Altas (high) or
Baixas (low) which nestle into the landscape making an incomparable
backdrop for water tourism, with seven blue flag ports in 2006 (Real
Club Náutico de A Coruña, Nauta A Coruña, Portosín, Sada, Ribadeo,
Baiona and Sanxenxo).
The obligatory finishing touch to a trip to Galicia is its cooking.
More than eighty types of seafish and over half a dozen river
varieties can be found in its restaurants and taverns. There are
also nearly fifty different kinds of shellfish, fifteen meats (or
more, if we count game), one and a half dozen different vegetables
and pulses, and a wide range of delicious cheeses, fruit and
The local wines are the perfect accompaniment to all this. The
Ribeiro, Rías Baixas, Valdeorras, Monterrei or Ribeira Sacra
varieties top the list in a wide range of exquisite wines. In fact,
the list would only end depending on the inclination of the diner.
The cities are both monumental and welcoming.
Santiago de Compostela (the administrative capital of
autonomous Galicia community) is the medieval centre. It has been
declared Cultural Heritage of Mankind, and is the finishing point of
the Christian pilgrims’ roads to the tomb of the Apostle St. James.
A Coruña is the city of light and modern beauty.
We have referred to the Rías Baixas, which have the main centre of
population: Vigo, looking out over the placid waters of the
Atlantic, offering some of the best seafood.
Lugo and Ourense are the two main cities to visit inland. The
former, as we have mentioned, is a living testament to its Roman
past. Both are crossed by the mighty Miño which, as it passes,
leaves behind autochthonous forests with centuriesold oaks and
chestnuts, which have been an inspiration on countless occasions for
artists all over the world. Ourense is interesting for its Roman
bridge, its thermal waters –hot springs– and the entrance portico to
the Cathedral, known as the Porch of El Paraíso, by the
The land of Galicia leads us, in short, to the sea. And there,
Fisterra, the Finis Terrae where the Romans located the end
of their known world.
S a n t i a g o de Compostela
has been declared World Heritage of Mankind in 1984 , and the road to
Compostela has been acknowledged as the First European Route and a World
Heritage site. Countless people have gone to Compostela on pilgrimage,
since Saint James tomb was discovered in the early 9th
century. It holds the privilege of the Sacred Indulgence Year, which
takes place when the Apostle Saint James day (July 25th)
coincides on a Sunday, that it´s to say every 6,5,6 and 11 years (last
one has been 2004). It increases the number of visitors from 3 to 7
millions people in a year.
The city was also honoured as European City of Culture of
the year 2000 by the Council of Ministers of Culture of the European
Union as recognition to the importance that its splendid architecture,
monumentality and cultural activity have in its history and its present.
Since 1980 Santiago has been the political and
administrative capital of the Autonomous Community of Galicia.
We´ll start the visit of this charming city on the
outstanding Obradoiro Square, facing the Cathedral. This Romanesque
jewel covered with Renaissance, baroque and neoclassical ornaments holds
the Apostle´s tomb and the Porch of Glory, a genuine stone Bible that
constitutes Maestro Mateo´s masterpiece. Each cathedral entrance faces a
square, with aristocratic houses and important buildings all around. We
can go to Quintana, Platerías or Azibechería Squares in order a have a
different look, and also can go up to the Cathedral roofs to have an
impressive look of the city.
Beside the Cathedral, on the north side, is the old
archbishop´s palace, called the Palace of Xelmirez. Right opposite we´ll
find the classicist simplicity of the Palace of Raxoi. On his left there
is the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, a plateresque building from the 16th
century, which was originally a pilgrims´ hospital. Opposite the Hostal
there is the Palace of San Xerome with its Romanesque façade.