Pazo de Oca, A Estrada

Discovering the unknown heritage of Galicia


Places with a special magic

Galicia is usually associated with monumental sites like Santiago de Compostela Cathedral or the Tower of Hercules, and beaches like Las Catedrales. But this region of north-west Spain is full of places that are much less known, but with a certain magic that makes them very special. We’ll discover little churches that are works of art, castros and petroglyphs that are centuries old, cliffs overlooking the end of the world… We’re heading to the hidden Galicia.

End of the world

Cabo Fisterra is a unique site: one of the westernmost points of Europe, the scouts of the Roman Empire called it finis terrae, the end of the world. Every evening the sun sets behind these cliffs. Nowadays, this place still has a charm all its own, especially if you’re watching the sunset by its iconic lighthouse, looking at the rock called Centulo (devil), or spending a night in a picturesque hotel. First-row views of the end of the world.

Unmistakable hórreos

These stone or wood constructions were designed to store and protect the harvest, and are one of the symbols of Galicia. Once, every house would have one. However, some are particularly notable. For example, in A Merca (Ourense) there are 34, the largest group of hórreos in Galicia. If you go towards the sea, in the Pontevedra estuary there are the pretty stone hórreos of Combarro almost on the shore. A picture-postcard view.

Cabo Fisterra lighthouse, Finisterre

Petroglyphs and dolmens: thousands of years of history

To get an idea of how Neolithic people lived and made art, we recommend a trip to Galicia. The Campo Lameiro Archaeological Park has Europe’s largest collection of petroglyphs (engraved rock art). Here you can see, for example, one of the most beautiful rock engravings of a deer. The dolmens are just as surprising, constructions of great stone slabs that, amazingly, are still standing today. A perfect example is the Dombate Dolmen, known as “the cathedral of Neolithic Galicia”.

Castros, before the Romans

Before the legions of the Roman Empire arrived, the local people lived on top of the hills in fortified settlements, known as castros. To walk today among the remains of these oval houses is an incredible and somehow magical experience. They also tend to be in places with spectacular views. Some of the most famous are in Baroña, next to a lovely beach, and Santa Tegra, with a view of the Miño estuary, between Spain and Portugal. A sunset seen from a place like this can never be forgotten.   

Castro Baroña, Porto do Son

Churches in the cliffs

Arriving at a charming little fishing village, looking out over incredible cliffs, and finding a church perched on top of them. Just an everyday experience in Galicia. For example, the church of Santo André in Teixido, in the Serra de Capelada hills, on one of the tallest cliffs in Europe. Nearby, you can see women selling sprigs of “herba de namorar” or sea pinks, which they say are a magic charm for love. Another exceptional setting is the village of Muxía and its Nosa Señora da Barca shrine. A magical place with massive boulders which the locals say have curative properties. We also recommend visiting the restaurants in these areas for a delicious seafood meal to round off a perfect day. 

Shrine of Nosa Señora da Barca, Muxía

Following the scent of camellias

These flowers were brought to Galicia in the 18th century from China and Japan, and today we can find up to 8,000 different varieties - there is even a Camellia Route. Many of them are part of the gardens of pazos, the magnificent country mansions of Galicia. One you can visit is the Pazo de Rubianes, founded 600 years ago, which includes a winery - the tour ends with a tasting of their exclusive wines. However, the most impressive pazo is probably at Oca, just a half-hour drive from Santiago de Compostela. This idyllic place has been called the “Galician Versailles” thanks to the beauty of its gardens.

A monastery converted to a Parador

Hidden among the forests of the Ribeira Sacra area is the captivating Monastery of Santo Estevo. Stroll around its beautiful Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance cloisters to find absolute peace. And the biggest surprise for the traveller is discovering that you can stay in this amazing place. Yes, this monastery is now a Parador de with spa. A dream for anyone who loves beauty.

Pazo de Oca, A Estrada