Hiking on the Thrilling Coast of Death
Despite its ominous name, the Coast of Death (Costa da Morte) in Galicia offers magnificent experiences for the nature and culture lovers.
Crosses and monuments perching on the cliffs remind of the shipwrecks that this breathtakingly wild coastline has witnessed over the centuries. Among the best known monuments is the English cemetery, resting place for the 172 British sailors, whose ship was wrecked in 1890. On this route, you encounter also beautiful lighthouses and capes.
If you want to spot peaceful coves with white sand and crystal clear water, take a walk from Camelle to Laxe. Main part of this route runs on cliffs, but you go also through wetlands with bird-watching cottages and meet interesting rock formations.
Another gorgeous walk starts from Muxia and goeas round a jagged peninsula bordered by sandy beaches in many places. Along this route you encounter also rivers, mills and centuries old warehouses (horreos), built in wood or stone and raised from the ground by pillars.
The most famous coastal route takes you to the end point of the pilgrim route, which is called the Cape of the Edge of the Earth (Cabo Finisterre), but the sea views are much more stunning on a route which starts from Malpica and goes round several capes to the sanctuary of San Adrián del Mar.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Redondela is a pleasant provincial town with about 30.000 inhabitants. The main landmarks of the town are the interesting railway bridges from the late 19th century. Of course you'll find some churches and other historical buildings here aswell. One being the Casa da Torre where pilgrims on the way to Santiago find shelter.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Pontevedra is a provincial capital with about 77.000 inhabitants. It's situated at the mouth of the Lérez river in one of those rias which are a main geographical feature in Galicia.
The old town is very beautiful, the main sight being a church (sanctuary Virxe Peregrina) with a groundplan of a scallop shell from the 18th century. Unfortunately it was in scaffolding when I passed through Pontevedra. But of course there are many more churches and monasteries to visit.
The albergue for pilgrims is new and very well equipped and located 1,5 km out of town.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is an amazing town, a stony miracle which has been shaped around the Apostle St James's (Santiago) sepulchre along the centuries, and which has resulted in one of the most splendid and harmonic architectural ensembles in the world .
It is considered one of the tree spiritual capitals of Christendom together with Rome and Jerusalem. Pilgrims come from every where.
The most important building in the town is the Cathedral of Santiago, conceived as a small city of stone centred on holy relics and endowed with its own life.
Science Fiction Novel with Galicia as Back-drop
If you've hiked the Ribiera Sacra/Ribas de Sil, you'll really enjoy this new science fiction adventure novel that has Galicia as an unexpected back-drop. Chock full of references to Galician folklore -- The Spanish Gatekeeper by Bernard Dukas -- available from Barnes & Noble as a NOOKbook or Kaladar Books (San Francisco).Related to:
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
The Episcopal See of San Martiño de Mondoñedo was moved from Foz to Vilamaior do Val de Brea, or Vallibria, the previous name of Mondoñedo, by the queen Urraca in 1112. Since then, Mondoñedo has been Episcopal See except for the period 1182-1230, when Ribadeo was the See.
The main sight is the cathedral, in the Plaza de España, but there are other buildings, especially churches and monasteries, that bear witness of the importance of Mondoñedo. The town was declared a national cultural-historical site in 1985.
The Cathedral was built in Romanesque style. The construction begun around 1230. Different styles are present: Romanesque and Gothic in the nave and the aisles, and Baroque in the its 18th century towers. The polychrome statue in the high altar, called Nuestra Señora la Inglesa (the English Madonna) was rescued from the St. Paul Cathedral in London during the Protestant Reformation of Henry VIII of England. There is an impressive rose window from the 13th century. Below the organs there are wall paitings from the 14th century. There are guided visits to the Museum of the Cathedral. The Episcopal Palace is annexed to the cathedral.
From the square you can see the Fuente Vieja (old fountain), built in 1548, with the coat of Carlos V. Following this direction, you will go to the quarter of the water or quarter of the mills. The Puente do Pasatempo dates back to the roman era. In this part of the town there used to be many mills. Today, some craftsmen still use the energy of water to operate their tools.
On the other side of the town you will see the Alameda de los Remedios. This poplar grove was planted in 1594. At the end of the avenue is the Santuario de los Remedios, a church from the 16th century. The Hospital of San Pablo also faces the avenue. Built in the 16th century, is still used as a hospital.
Other remarkable buildings are the Seminary of Santa Catalina, the Conceptiontists church, San Pedro church, Santiago church, the Old Town Hall and the New Town Hall.
The Caves of King "Cintolo" ("Covas do Rei Cintolo") are located in the outskirts of the town.
Lugo is one of the cities of Galicia I most like.
The city center is surrounded by the Roman Walls, built in the 3rd century. One can go up to the wall and walk all along the perimeter, about 2 km. There are ten gates and about seventy turrets.
The Cathedral began to be built in 1129 in Romanesque style but also Gothic and Neoclassic styles are present. There are magnificent altarpieces. The Romanesque door facing north is wonderful and the Pantocrator is a masterpiece. The cloister was built in the 18th century and the west façade, facing the wall, at the end of that century.
There are nice squares and churches within the wall:
Praza de Santa Maria, a square between the cathedral and the Episcopal palace.
The Praza Maior (Main Square) with the Baroque Town Hall.
Praza do Campo, a small square near the cathedral. The square and the streets starting there are very busy at dinner time as there are plenty of bars, taverns and restaurants.
Praza de Santo Domingo, with the nice Church of Santo Domingo. In this square is the central market, the best place to buy some typical products. In the center, a monument commemorates the second millennium of the foundation of Lugo, consisting on an imperial eagle on top of a Corinthian column.
San Pedro church, that belonged to the Convent of San Francisco, built in the 15th century. Today, the convent houses the provincial museum. It’s said that San Francisco founded the first convent in Lugo when he went on pilgrimage to Santiago in 1214. Anyway, the presence of the Franciscan Order in Lugo is stated from 1230.
Ferrol has been an important shipbuilding city. Now the activity has decayed but along the ria one can still see the dockyards with the big cranes and warehouses. It has been also the most important place for the Spanish Navy in the north. It was also the biggest arsenal in Europe.
What to see in Ferrol?
There are a series of Modernist houses along the city, especially along A Magdalena quarter.
Natural History Museum
San Francisco Church
San Felipe castle
This is one of the most important fortress along the ria del Ferrol. It was built under the rule of the king Felipe II, in the 16th century. In that period, European powers were fighting for the maritime hegemony. Ferrol was in a strategic situation for provisioning the Spanish Navy and this made necessary the construction of a strong defense against French and English Navies.
On the opposite shore of the ria, in front of San Felipe castle, two fortresses were built in the same period: La Palma and San Martin Castles. They are in the narrowest part of the ria. In the past, San Martin and San Felipe castles were joined by a chain in case of an enemy attack, so as to impede the pass of enemy ships.
San Felipe castle is a good sample of the military architecture. It has the shape of an arrowhead. The central element is the hornwork and a double battery of canyons was directed to the sea. Some reforms were made along time. Today it has not a military function.
Several attempts to take Ferrol failed thanks to this fortress (English Navy, 1594; French Navy in 1639; again the British Navy in 1800).
Following the road from Ferrol to the fortress, from Monte Ventoso there is a nice panorama of the coast.
At the port you can take a boat to cross the ria to Mugardos. There is also a boat does a cruise along the ria del Ferrol, showing the castles on both sides.
Viveiro is a coastal city, the third in population in the province of Lugo.
Viveiro is a touristic center due to its beaches and its rich heritage. The economic development between the 12th and 13th centuries configured the town as we see it today. In the 19th century it was named city.
Parts of the walls erected in the Middle Ages still surround the center. Inside the walls we can find:
Convento de las Concepcionistas, a Monastery built in the 17th century in Baroque style.
In front of the entrance is a replica of the Cave of Lourdes, where people present wax ex-voti.
Near is the church of Santa Maria del Campo, Romanesque church built in the 12th century.
Outside the walls, San Francisco church was built in the 14th century. It belonged to the convent founded by the Franciscan order in the 13th century.
Three of the original gates of the wall remain: Puerta de O Valado, Puerta de A Vila and Carlos V gate, also called Porta do Castelo da Ponte. The last one was built in the 16th century, in Plateresque style, as a homage to the Emperor.
In front of this gate is the bridge called Puente de la Misericordia, built in the 15th century, possibly on the rests of a Roman bridge. It is 500 m long.
On the other shore of the ria is the Coves beach. On the west side are some rocks called castelos where is a memorial to the victims of the sea.
We visited Viveiro in Autust 2010. On the seafront there was a Book Fair and a Handcraft Fair.
Betanzos was a very important city in the 15th century. Under the rule of the Catholic Monarchs it was named capital of the province and a duty-free fair used to take place once a year. Two names are linked to Betanzos: Andrade and García Naveira.
Andrade is the name of an aristocratic family who was very powerful in Galicia in the late Middle Ages. They held the titles of Condes de Andrade y Vilalba, amongst others. They owned numerous castles, palaces, manor houses and extensive lands. Regions of Ferrolterra (around Ferrol, in La Coruña province) and Terra Chá (Lugo province) were part of the domains of Fernán Pérez de Andrade in the 14th century.
Garcia Naveira brothers (Juan and Jesus) emigrated to Argentina in 1870. When they returned, after having made money, they became benefactors of their birth town. They build the Jardin del Pasatiempo, a park where they tried to mould all the knowledge they had acquired along their travels so as the people from Betanzos could also enjoy it. They also built a school, an asylum and a washing place on the Mendo river. There are good reasons for to name the main square after them.
A walk along Betanzos
There are some pazos you will see walking along. If you come from La Coruña, crossing the New Bridge (Ponte Nova), you will pass one of the three gates that still stand. Going up along rua Ferreiros and rua Roldan, you will see on your left the Pazo de Taboada. Then you will arrive to the Praza da Constitucion. Apart from some nice balconies, in this square you will see the City Hall with the coat of arms of Carlos V, and the Pazo de Bendaña, with the Clock tower (15th century), attached to the Santiago church. This church is Romanesque and the portico is really beautiful.
This is the highest point of the town. Taking rua Castro, you will arrive to Praza Irmans Garcia Naveira. In this square there are some municipal offices, the tourism office, the church of Santo Domingo and a statue of the two brothers.
Rua Ferradores is full of terraces of cafes. In any of the alleys that start in this street you can find places to have lunch of dinner.
There are two churches very close together that compete in beauty: Santa Maria de Azogue and San Francisco. Both were built in Romanesque and Gothic style. Unfortunately they were closed when we visited Betanzos and we only could see the façades, but they are very nice samples of the medieval architecture. The church of San Francisco was built by Fernan Perez de Andrade and it is one of the best samples of Gothic art in Galicia.
Close to those churches is the School built by Garcia Naveira Brothers.
When we visited La Coruña, there was a book fair and a handcraft fair on the Jardin de Mendez Nuñez. We continued walking along the seafront (Avenida de la Marina and Paseo Marítimo). The houses with their glass covered galleries with white wood frames make the most typical image of La Coruña. There are some Modernist buildings in La Coruña that you will see walking along the streets. The city is on a peninsula with a capricious shape, so that one looses the orientation easily.
In the old city, we saw the house of the Galician writer Emilia Pardo Bazán and the Romanesque church of Santiago, the first church built in the city. Then we went to Maria Pita square, where we could enter in the City Hall, a superb building. Very near the square is the church of San Jorge. As it was dinner time, we went to Franja, the most interesting street at this hour, and looked for a place to try the first seafood platter of the trip.
The main attraction of La Coruña is the Torre de Hércules.
The Tower of Hercules is the oldest Roman lighthouse still in use. It was built in the second century. In the original design, there was an ascending ramp encircling the tower, but it collapsed during the middle ages. The exterior structure we see today was built in the 18th century. Also a stair was build inside. This stair is used today to climb to the top. I recommend going upstairs to enjoy a nice view of the city and the sheer coast. The ticket is 2.50 €. The area around is a garden with some sculptures, a place to watch the tower and the sea.
things to do in Galicia
A really nice thing to do is enjoy the coast, I spent some days in two different years just going from Ribadeo(LUGO) to LA Guarda (Pontevedra). Public transport is not really good, but if you rent a car or find a nice person who likes to travel and show the country (I found her!!) it's the best thing to do. I enjoyed: Cies Islands in summer (it's a paradise), the highest cliffs of Europe (near Ferrol, Coruna), Cape Finisterre, "end of the world" (the western most point of Galicia), Santiago (of course!!), Rias Baixas y Altas (completely different), Coruna city (I had a really good guide, the girl who showed me Galicia)... Enjoy a lot and enjoy the people!!!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Bayona or Baiona is at the mouth of Ria de Vigo, in the south bank. Arriving from the south, from Cabo Silleiro, the first that attracts the attention is the castle, Castillo de Monte Real. The walls and two of the towers are very well preserved. The castle is now a Parador Nacional (State-owned hotel).
On March 1493, the caravel La Pinta arrived to the port of Bayona from America. This, Bayona was the first place in Spain to know that Columbus expedition had been successful. Now there is a replica of La Pinta in the port.
There is a nice beach between the town and the peninsula where the castle is.
Paved streets and arcades characterize the old quarter of the town.
Romanesque churches at Costa de la Muerte
There are beautiful Romanesque churches along the Costa de la Muerte:
San Julián (San Xiao) de Moraime, 3 km from Muxia. Built in the 12th century with the shape of basilica, with three naves and three apses. It was part of a monastery.
Santa María de Muxia: this church also has some gothic elements, but Romanesque dominates: the front, columns and inverted capitals…
Santa Leocadia de Frige belongs to the rural Romanesque. It was built in the 12th century with a single nave and a square apse.
Other Romanesque churches we didn’t see were San Pedro de Leis, San Cristobal de Nemiña and Santa Maria de Morquintian.
The town is at the bottom of the ria of Noia. During the Middle Ages, Noia was one of the main cities in Galicia. It became the port of Compostela and thus developed.
The church of San Martiño in Praza do Tapal was built in the 14th century in gothic style. Its façade is impressive with a big rose window. In the same square there is a nice stone cross or cruceiro.
Near this church, in the old part of the town, Pazo Dacosta is a nice example of the civil gothic architecture.
Rua Rosalia de Castro is a main street surrounded by gardens. Near the tourist office, crossing a garden, you will find the Casa do Concello and San Francisco Church.
We stayed three nights at the Parador de Santiago - Hostal Reis Catolicos in May 2013 when we came...more
this is possibly the best hotel in town. But the location was not suitable for the conference my...more
Calle de Gamboa 12, Pontevedra, Vigo, 36202, Spain
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