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
Pairing of gastronomy plans in Santiago
Gastronomy tourism never goes out of fashion, and much less in a place like Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) which likes to boast - and rightly so - about the rich variety and quality of its shellfish, fish and meat dishes. The gastronomy festivals, traditional markets and food markets are ample justification for a pilgrimage to the capital of Galicia.more info
Seven destinations for travelling alone
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Santiago A Passion For Sweets
Holy Week is a festivity accompanied by a long culinary tradition, among other things. Some of its hallmarks include confectionery and desserts, which adopt a host of guises across the geography of Spain. Not to be outdone, Santiago de Compostela, a city of fine food, has its own versions, as evinced in the gems created by different local religious orders, those inherited from the city’s long chocolatiering tradition and imports from the Americas, which have spread all over Europe via the Road to Santiago.
In an effort to keep this tradition alive and provide enjoyment for locals and visitors alike, the second edition of a gastronomic event catering to the sweet-toothed known as Santiago Paixón Doce will be held from 7 to 17 April. For the duration of this festivity, some 29 venues, notably bars, cafés and restaurants, will be offering a special menu laced with traditional Holy Week fare, among which confectionery features prominently. Highlights include torrijas (a kind of French bread), leche frita (literally, “fried milk”), buñuelos (fritters), rosquillas (a ring-shaped pastry), melindres (buns), roscas (a kind of doughnut), “passion chocolates”, cakes and other confectionery typical at this time of year. Check out the list of venues taking part in this tasty experience here.
Eight Delicacies in the Compostelan Holy Week
For those not familiar with Santiago de Compostela’s Holy Week culinary tradition, we have drawn up a selection of the confectionery you simply must taste on your visit to the city. Take note!
1. Concha de Santiago (St James Shell)
This is a veritable tribute to the city of Santiago de Compostela, as it features its paramount symbol, the pilgrim’s scallop shell or viera worked into a delicious chocolate figure. One of the many establishments where you can taste the concha de Santiago is the Chocolat Factory, located in the Praza do Toural.
2. Tarta de Santiago (St James Cake)
With its origins going back to the 16th century, the tarta de Santiago is unquestionably the most popular cake in Santiago de Compostela. Needless to say, you can find it in all the city’s pastry shops and bakeries, from Las Colonias – with its long-standing tradition – to Á Casa Mora, said to be the artificers of the Cross of St James having been incorporated into the cake.
3. Chocolate a la taza
As mentioned earlier, Santiago is a city with a long-standing tradition of chocolatiers. One of the local favourites is “chocolate a la taza”, which is thick hot chocolate for dunking churros (fritters) in. A classic spot for savouring this wonderful delicacy is the Chocolatería Metate (Rúa do Preguntoiro, 12).
4. Monastic Delights
In bygone times, it fell to the religious orders to introduce foreign traditions to Compostela, including the recipes using almonds and egg yolk, which had a marked influence on local confectionery and ended up spawning both the tarta de Santiago and almendrados (macaroons). There are currently two convents in Santiago which still make their own confectionery. One is the Antealtares Monastery, where the Benedictines make almendrados, tarta de Santiago and cookies, all of which are available on a daily basis, and brazo de gitano, a kind of Swiss roll which is made only to order. The other is Belvís Convent, where the Dominicans make bespoke batches of almendrados, mantecados (a kind of shortbread made with lard)and tarta de Santiago, as well as selling freshly baked cookies.
5. Cheese and Chocolate Cakes
We recommend you drop in on the Airas Nunes Café, which specialises in homemade cakes and tortiñas (milk tarts).
6. Assorted “Pecados” (Sins)
The Cantón del Toural is home to the so-called Pecados de Compostela (Sins of Compostela), a unique type of candy wrapped in seven forms to match the seven deadly sins, one for each day of the week. Be a daredevil and try them!
Despite having very similar ingredients to the Easter cake known as the rosca de Pascua,the Xacobea is moister as it contains syrup. Available in numerous pastry shops dotted about the city, notably La Estrella (Suevia).
The rosquilla, also known as a melindre, typically eaten at traditional shrine festivals in Galicia, is also a classic of Holy Week and Easter in Galicia. Sold at a host of venues in Santiago de Compostela.
Text and photos by Turismo de Santiago