Celtic culture at the castros of Galicia and Asturias
Castro de Santa Tecla
Travel back in time and discover what prehistory's first "cities" were like. They are the Celtic "castros" (fortified Iron Age settlements) of northwestern Spain, which gave rise to a culture with its own distinctive traits. Sites in Galicia and Asturias will let you discover the artistic and archaeological wealth of this ancient people, always surrounded by legend.
During the Iron Age, at the end of prehistory, human beings decided to leave behind their itinerant existence to settle in villages, some larger than others. This was the origin of the Celtic "castros" (fortified, Iron Age settlements) of northwestern Spain, in the Regions of Galicia and Asturias. Some of these settlements were to survive until after the arrival of the Romans. Castro culture in this region left behind a valuable architectural and artistic legacy, that you can see at museums and at the many archaeological sites in the area. Visiting them is an ideal opportunity to discover this history of these legendary villages for yourself: their wealth of crafts and traditions, their way of life...
One of the most characteristic elements of the castros in Galicia and Asturias is their setting. They tended to be located either on mountains and in elevated positions, or close to the coast, so that nature itself would provide them with defenses. Nowadays, this special positioning means that they also enjoy stunning views.
Castros were fortified enclosures, surrounded by ditches and walls. Inside there were circular stone dwellings with thatched roofs, laid out in neighbourhoods, separated by streets and squares. Other, longer buildings served as places to get together or to worship, and some settlements even had steam baths. Castro de Coaña, in Asturias, and Santa Tecla in the Galicia village of A Guarda (Pontevedra), are two highly representative examples, but there are more.
Plenty to choose from
In Galicia, special mention should be made of Castro de Viladonga, in the village of Castro do Rei (some 30 kilometres from the city of Lugo). Next to the site you will find its Archaeological Museum, with an exhibition which is an excellent way to complete your visit. Amongst other interesting spots, you can also discover the castros of Baroña and Elvira, less than 65 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña), or those at San Cibrán de Lás and Castromao, just over 25 kilometres from Ourense.
In Asturias there are many other outstanding spots to be visited besides Castro de Coaña, situated 25 kilometres from Luarca. Very close, 10 minutes away by car, you will find Castro de Mohías and Castro de Pendía. And, less than 50 kilometres from the village of Pendía, you will find the "castros" of San Isidro and Chao Samartín. These are just a few of the most emblematic places: to make sure you don't miss anything, a good idea is to make for the tourist offices where they will give you all the details.
If you have time left over, visit any of the archaeological museums to be found in these provinces. At the museums in Asturias, Pontevedra, Lugo, A Coruña and Ourense, you can see a range of objects and materials found in the different castros, including everything from ceramics and beautiful items of precious metal work, to iron and copper tools. Don’t think twice: in Spain, ancient Celtic culture is close at hand.