Outings Near Santiago
Santiago’s zone of influence stretches through a score of municipalities, ranging from A Coruña to Pontevedra, all articulated around the river Ulla, while various branches of the Road to Santiago run nearby, too.
Hardly 10 km from the city lies a magical spot – Pico Sacro, a legendary hill as far as Galician culture and the Jacobean tradition are concerned. Located south-east of the city, its unusual outline rises sharply to a height of 533 metres. Santiago and the skyline of its Cathedral towers are visible in the distance from its summit.
Galicia is green, and the city of Santiago is also surrounded by green. Nature lovers can go on outings from the city to such amazing spots as the Fervenzas do Toxa, or to Insua; to unique forests like the Fraga de Catasós, with chestnut trees towering over thirty metres, or to mountain ranges like O Candán, with its ancient landscapes and great open spaces.
In a radius of just fifty kilometres you can discover the monumental wealth of such historic towns as Padrón or Melide, both directly related to the Road to Santiago; pazos (country homes) like the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Ribadulla, noteworthy for its camellias and centuries-old olives trees, and even places of quiet and repose like the Carboeiro Monastery, surrounded by splendid natural scenery.
Needless to say, being Galicia, it is also worth planning outings to try the delicious and abundant cuisine in Santiago’s environs, characterised by the use of fresh produce in season. Be sure to try the Padrón peppers, trout and lamprey, cocido (stew), beef, cheeses, melindres (honey fritters), filloa crêpes, almendrados (macaroons) and rosquillas (a ring-shaped pastry), and to end your trip by toasting with a local spirit.
Come and discover all these gems for yourself! Check out our flights here.
For further information on Santiago: www.santiagoturismo.com
For further information on the environs of Santiago: www.areasantiago.es
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See In the Summer at Santiago de Compostela
In a few days’ time we will usher in the summer solstice and the shortest night in the year, an auspicious moment marked by a number of rituals. A host of countries in Europe pay tribute to the change of season, not to mention the excitement associated with the long-awaited summer holidays. Fire is usually the main ingredient in most of these celebrations, whether in the guise of bonfires to burn the old spirits of the year we are leaving behind, or firework displays that light up and colour the sky as everyone waits for dawn on the longest day of the year.
Santiago de Compostela is one of a plethora of locations in Europe where the night of St John is celebrated. In keeping with the tradition that stretches across all Galicia, the city’s streets and public squares are lit up with bonfires in the course of what is undoubtedly the most magical night in the year. On this night alone, the bonfires are known here as cacharelas. The people of Santiago de Compostela leap over them, a deed believed to ward off witchcraft and the evil eye cast by meigas, the name by which evil spirits are known in Galicia. Be sure to join in this magic ritual to see in the summer on the right foot. The city’s historic centre has the most crowded bonfires, particularly in the Plaza de Irmán Gómez and the streets of Algalia de Abaixo and Valle Inclán, although you will also find bonfires blazing in the Pelamios quarter, San Juan Park in Vista Alegre and the district of San Lorenzo.
Alongside the bonfires, centre stage also features sardines, the streets of Santiago redolent with their aroma. The sardines are grilled over the bonfires and eaten together with the traditional Galician empanadas (a sandwich pie) and red wine – a great culinary combination for a night out that is bound to extend well into the morning.
Another purification ritual which Santiagans take very seriously is to leave overnight in water a sprig of magical plants and herbs, including rosemary, mint, camomile and rose, and wash themselves with that infusion the following morning. Anything goes when it comes to warding off the evil spirits, so don’t hesitate to get your spray of herbs at the Mercado de Abastos and join in the tradition.
And, There’s More
Coinciding with the festivity of St John and for the second year running, a festival organised by Turismo Santiago will be held from 22 to 24 June at which you can delve more deeply into Galician rituals and traditions associated with the arrival of summer. Among the scheduled activities are itineraries for picking the herbs for St John, a free train which runs from one bonfire to another, wickerwork exhibitions, traditional dance workshops, storytelling sessions of myths and legends about meigas and magic spells, music and the conjuro de la queimada (a ritual consisting of an incantation accompanied by mulling and drinking a pomace brandy called orujo). There will also be a market where you can taste locally sourced traditional products in season.
Text by Turismo Santiago de Compostela
The Ria de Muros e Noia , the Port of Santiago de Compostela
The Ria de Muros e Noia is one of the Galicia region’s least built-up coastal areas, and also one of the most beautiful. Fishing boats landing delicious, shellfish, white sandy beaches with good surfing, all framed by green hills with a riot of vegetation –it’s definitely worth a visit. Here is a route you might consider.
Mt. Louro and the Xarfas Lagoon
Starting from the northern extreme of the estuary, between the Costa da Morte and Muros, you can stand atop Louro mountain, a 241-metre high granite block, and feast on the views of the Ria de Muros e Noia and the Lagoa de Xarfas with its fabulous Area Maior beach. The surrounding –hills, dunes, beach and the lagoon—boast a wealth of flora and fauna. There’s even an observatory for watching migratory birds.
Heading south we come to the town of Muros, founded in the 10th C. , and now featuring modest fishermen’s houses next to lordly mansions from bygone times. A stroll the town in the late afternoon can be timed to coincide with the arrival of the boats in the evening after a day’s fishing. The fish is put up for sale immediately on the dock, which is also an interesting spectacle to watch. And it means your shellfish dinner will be fresh and delicious. You won’t be disappointed by any of the restaurants under the arches near the water’s edge.
Just three kilometres away on the road to Noia is the Muíño de Mareas do Pozo do Cachón, a flour mill powered by the tides, built in the last quarter of the 19th C. There is also an interesting museum.
Noia is the biggest town in the estuary, and is only 36 km distant from Santiago. According to tradition, it was named for Noah, who is believed to have settled there after the Biblical flood. The city’s coat of arms shows an ark and a dove bearing an olive branch.
The old quarter features two churches built in the local version of the Gothic style: San Martiño (15th-16th C.) and Santa María a Nova (14th C.), the latter with a fascinating collection of about 500 tombstones. The 16th C. convent of San Francisco may also be visited, and the town is replete with stately mansions, such as the Casa da Xouba, the Pazo Dacosta (or Casa de Rivas), and the Pazo Forno do Rato. In the Obre district the pazos (mansions) of Pena de Ouro and Bergondo are worth a visit.
Some five kilometres from de Noia, across the Tambre, we come to the Ponte Nafonso, a bridge built during the 12th C. reign of King Alfonso IX of Leon and Galicia. It consists of a score of pointed arches lying on granite ashlars. The setting against the sea and mountains makes the sight of the bridge all the more spectacular
Castro de Baroña
On the south side of the estuary, next to the fishing village of Porto do Son, is the Castro de Baroña, an Iron Age Celtic settlement, with a score of round or oval stone cottages, once thatched, on a small peninsula. The archaeological remains and the wonderful landscape make it a worthwhile visit.
Corrubedo Dunes Nature Park
Between the Ria de Muros and Noia and that of Arousa, to the south, lies this lovely park with beaches, dunes, fresh- and salt-water lagoons, wetlands, and even megalithic remains. One of the main attractions is the “moving dune”, a restless pile of sand about a kilometre long , 200-300 meters wide, and 20 metres tall.
Some Further Recommendations
Though the quickest way to explore the Muros and Noia estuary is by the AC-550 coast road, we recommend side trips into the surrounding hills to get the best views.
For lodging there are numerous country inns and guest houses on both sides of the water, most of them in old and typical buildings. A particularly unusual place to stay is the hotel Pesquería del Tambre, in the Tambre river valley on the site of and old hydroelectric dam transformed into a nature hotel by the architect Antonio Palacios.
Check out our flights to Santiago de Compostela and head west to the sea!
Pictures: Turismo de Galiciamore info