The city of A Coruña lies on the Atlantic coast in the north west corner of Spain. The city is situated on a small peninsula at the mouth of the A Coruña estuary. Over the years the city has expanded to fit an ever-increasing population and there are now three distinct parts of the city: La Ciudad Vieja, the Old City, which is also the highest part of the peninsula, originally surrounded by city walls. Here you will find narrow streets of flagstones, hidden plazas, churches, "casonas", houses typical of the area, and gardens; El Istmo, the Isthmus, this area was built in the 19th century and is the commercial part of the city, here you will find the fish market of the same name; El Ensanche, the Extension, this is the newest part and it occupies the mainland part of the city. A Coruña has its own beaches, the Riazor and the Orzán. A Coruña has a population of 255,000 and is the capital of the province with which it shares its name. This province covers an area of 3,076 square miles (7,876km²).
Though the highways leading to A Coruña and generally all of the national highways are in perfect condition, the traveller should be warned in advance that the local and regional roads, which apply to a good portion of the itineraries we have mentioned, are not exactly models of fine road conservation. We also advise the traveller to make sure his gas or petrol tank is filled before he leaves the main highways.
Parks and Gardens
Jardín de San Carlos. This is one of the most beautiful places in the city. The garden lies within the thick walls of the bastion of San Carlos. It was originally planted in 1834 and in the middle is the tomb of the British General Sir John Moore, mortally wounded leading the battle of Elviña near the city on the 16th January 1809. From here you can enjoy a good view of the city walls and the bay. Here too you will find the Civic Centre, Casa de la Cultura, the Public Library, Biblioteca Pública and the Archives of the Kingdom of Galicia, Archivo del Reino de Galicia. This area has been declared of National Heritage.
Rosaleda and Jardines de Méndez Nuñez. These gardens lie adjacently and are separated only by the Calle de Santa Catalina. They lie within the "fachada" of the city, this means that they lie within Los Cantones, la Avenida de la Marina and the harbour and consequently from the gardens you can enjoy magnificent views. Inside the Jardines de Méndez Nuñez is the Exhibitions Palace the Kiosco Alfonso.
Parque de Santa Margarita. This park lies in the "Ensanche" part of the city between the Calle Palomar and the Avenida de Arteixo. The park is large and here you will find the Planetario and the Casa de las Ciencias. In one corner of the park facing the Glorieta de América is the Auditorio and the Palacio de Congresos.
Jardines de la Palloza. These gardens lie opposite the Plaza de la Palloza with splendid views over the fishing port, following on to the Avenida de la Marina and on up to the highest part of the city.
Jardines de la Maestranza. These are situated between the Ciudad Vieja and the sea with views over the breakwater "Barrie de la Maza" and the sea sports harbour.
ExcursionesFrom Padron To Noia
The starting point can be in Padrón (which we have already seen on the Santiago route) or the bridge which crosses the mouth of the Ulla river, connecting Catoira with the southern shore of the Arosa ría. Very close to the Catoira towers is the local road 550. If we turn to the left after 8 kilometers we will come to a turn-off which leads to Rianxo, a prosperous fishing port which also has some excellent beaches. In the heart of the town, in addition to some old and simple facades, is the Church of Santa Comba, an example of rural Gothic style of which the traveller will see some more examples later on, and the Pazo de Martelo. This country manor is a solid, noble 17th century structure, which is most noted for the magnificent balcony which extends from one end of the building to the other. The pazo stands on the spot where the mansion of an important 13th century figure one stood, who was at the same time a noted warrior and participant in the liberation of Sevilla from Moslem hands, and an outstanding man of letters. Before leaving Rianxo, we should remember that Castelao was born here, one of the most relevant figures in Galician culture, who was obliged to flee the country during the Spanish Civil War.
Back on the highway which skirts the Barbanza península, the road runs past Cespón and Boiro, at the foot of the mountains which form this península and very close to the peaceful waters of the ría. There is a parish church with a Romanesque facade and a triple cruceiro in Cespón. Leaving Boiro, we see on the left, the Tower of Goians (or Goyanes), which was built in the 16th century by Domingo de Andrade, a famous Compostela architect. The proximity of Santiago is noted now and is reflected in a very specific characteristic: all along the Arosa ría we see houses whose walls are covered with the vieira shells, reminiscent of the pilgrims, and at the same time a functional and decorative solution.
In Puebla (or Pobra) de Caramiñal, we must get to know the Casa Grande, a 16th century palace reconstructed two centuries later. Leaving the town, the highway is lined by the Torres (towers) Xunqueiras and the Bermúdez Tower. The Torres Xunqueiras are a 15th century pazo which combines military features -such as the keep- and an incipient attempt at a more palatial design. The Torre Bermúdez on the left dates back to the 16th century.
Six kilometers away is Riveira, at the mouth of the ría though it is well protected by a cove. Near the center of the town and the fishing port is the magnificent Coros beach, one of the town's major attractions.
The road continues toward the Noia ría and on the left it passes by the península of Barbanza and the Corrubedo cape, surrounded by extensive and solitary beaches and a strip of sand dunes. Also on the left is the Dolmen de Arteixo, which is not easy to find despite the signs. Our advice is to leave your car and head for the refreshment stand and then follow the foot path which starts at the left of the asphalt roadway. The dolmen is surrounded by oak trees and is located to the right of the footpath some 100 meters along the way.
Once again on highway 550, the trip to Porto do Son crosses some almost entirely virgin landscape, and some lovely but solitary beaches are to be found all around. Fifteen kilometers along the way is the road which will take us to the Castro de Baroña, located beside the sea. The Castro was inhabited well into the last stages of the Roman epoch until the beginning of the 5th century but the arrival of the Suevians led to its abandonment.
Porto do Son is now very close by and it conserves in its old section a certain medieval air. The next stop is Noia (15 kms. away), one of the most interesting cities en this route. Its historic center has a considerable number of palaces and churches which reflect the historic importance of this community. However, perhaps the first visit to be made in Noia is to its beautiful cemetery which surrounds the Romanesque church of Santa María (of the 14th century) and which is located in the very heart of the city. The cemetery conserves a valuable collection of tombstones dating back to between the 10th and 16th centuries, most of which are marked with rough cut engravings reflecting the instruments of the trade of the deceased. A medieval cruceiro and an unusual temple or humilladoiro of the 16th century complete the archaeological repertoire of this cemetery which is at the same time well cared for with a touch of melancholy.
If we continue along the street leading to the Church of Santa María and the cemetery we soon come to the 16th century Church of San Francisco and the Town Council. We can see in the interior the coats of arms of the noble families which paid for the construction of the church. In the Town Hall, adjacent to the church, the traveller should be sure to visit the small Renaissance cloister.
Some excellent samples of civil Gothic architecture make up the surroundings of the Church of San Martín, proceded by a splendid 15th century facade conceived in principally Ogival terms but still very much in debt, as is the case in many structures throughout Galicia, to the Romanesque guidelines. We would like to call the traveller's attention to the series of sculptures which decorate the facade.
From here the highway skirts the rugged landscape around the mouth of the Noia ría. The traveller can see if the weather is good, the ever present popularity of the Noia hat, one of the best examples of the local basketweaving. The hat is made from straw which has carefully been braided and the top part has a wide black hand whose ends fall over the brim. We should also advise the traveller that he is approaching an area which is famous, among other things for the beauty of its typical stone hórreos or granaries, whose ashlars were carved with the same care as if they were intended for an important edifice. Interesting monuments appear along either side of the highway from here all the way to the Costa de la Muerte (Coast of Death).From Noia To Finisterre
Upon leaving Noia and the park we come to a small turn-off which descends to the sea. When we reach Barro and follow the shore-line, keeping the sea on our left, we come to the Cruceiro de Eiroa, a magnificent monument of the past century which represents the Descent of the Cross. Highway 550 crosses the ría by Ponte Nafosa, whose original structure was dated in the 14th century and which evolved among a series of legends. From here, until Muros, the itinerary cuts through some truly beautiful scenery such as the Freixo port and the Esteiro cove.
Muros, 35 kms. from Noia, deserves an unrushed visit not only because of its collection of monuments but because of the beauty of the town itself. Muros spreads out along its port, which is lined with a porticoed street of ancient homes. Behind these houses is a maze of narrow streets -some scarcely a meter wide- which are flanked with unmistakable seaboard constructions. The small square of the Pescadería Vella, decorated with an unusual fountain which is topped with a stone turtle, is one of the most popular corners. Dominating the town from on high is the parish church, a lovely Romanesque and Ogival building.
The highway continues to run along the coast until Corcubión and Finisterre, leaving magnificent beaches along the way. The Louro beach, just 3 kms. from Muros, has a smooth salt-water lagoon behind it. The Carnota beach, 10 kms. farther on, is an endless extension of very white sand which spreads out until it reaches the green valley. The longest hórreo in all Galicia -35 meters- is found in Carnota and it dates back to the 18th century.
Farther on, at El Pindo, we can find the Celtic Olyimpus on our right, a mountain whose crests and crags describe such capricious forms that they have been the object of many speculations on the part of archaeologists as to the more or less esoteric question of the Celts in Galicia. Though, there is no definite proof, it does seem that the Middle Ages must have witnessed the rites of many pagan cults.
The highway now enters the Corcubión ría and comes to Cée, about 12 kms. from El Pindo, an industrial village which still conserves an interesting 18th century pazo in its old quarter. Immediately on, we come to Corcubión with its lovely, water-front homes, with glass-enclosed facades and some stone balconies. Large coats of arms reflect the noble origin of this small town, as well as the parish church which was constructed in the 12th century and redone in the 14th.
The trip to Finisterre (Fisterra), about 14 kms. away, will furnish some excellent views of the ría and of the open sea as well. Finisterre has known how to preserve intact its sea-going atmosphere. The port and the 12th century church of Santa Maria are the main features of its landscape. The Finisterre lighthouse is a must for those travellers who seek rugged seascapes and impressive cliff scenery.La Costa De La Muerte (Coast Of Death)
From Finisterre to Cayón, we will have to take several turn-offs from Highway 552 in order not to miss the most important landmarks along the way. To begin with, we should back-track to Corcubión and then head in the direction of Vimianzo. Three kilometers along the way we will come to a turn-off on the left which leads to Muxia, the first stop on our way. Before we reach this town, however, the traveller will pass by an interesting concentration of hórreos in Molinos. In Moraime, we should stop before the Church of San Julián which is situated on a rise and is an excellent example of rural Romanesque style in Galicia. lt was constructed in the 12th century and has an excellent sculptural decoration which reflects the taste of the Jacobbean pilgrims. Muxia is a small town which has all the charm of the medieval villages in its ancient facades. Located near the Camariñas river, almost directly on the open sea and surrounded by forests, Muxía has become a symbol of the Galician seaboard, mixed with a distant druid memory. The parish church of Santa María surrounded by a tiny cemetery and preceded by a fine Romanesque front deserves a visit.
Continuing on our way to the lighthouse, the traveller will come to one of the most interesting sanctuaries in this area. The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Barca (Our Lady of the Ship) rises above the rocks which form the cape, entirely exposed to the ocean winds. Inside, some ship models of different epochs hang from the ceiling and some illuminating angels line the transept. Its interest centers not so much on its artistic values as the outstanding role it has played in the tradicional devotions of Galicia. Near the church is a huge rock which has always been attributed prophetic properties when prayers offered to the Virgen de la Barca were answered.
Returning to Molinos, we should continue in the same direction until we find the turn-off to Cereixo, located at the point where the Zas river joins the ría. In Cereixo, in addition to its small Romanesque church, there is a 17th century pazo of sturdy military appearance. Now there lies only nine kilometers from here to Camariñas.
Camariñas, in addition to being an important fishing port, has a truly exceptional source of wealth. The bobbin lace, made by the paililleras in the street before their own homes or in the shops which sell their work, have made this town a very necessary visit. The streets in the center of the town will also attract the traveller's interest: here the houses are white-washed and very well cared for, with pastel-painted socles, which add a very characteristic appearance to the town. Five kms. from Camariñas is the lighthouse of Cabo Vilano from which a splendid view can be had.
Once again we have to back-track until we come to the Ponte do Porto. From here we can go to Camelle (6 kms. away), a fishing village which is almost entirely isolated from the rest of the area. From Ponte do Porto we can also go to Vimianzo (farther inland and with a magnificent medieval castle) even though if we wish to continue along the coast we must take a small highway which is found four kms. ahead on the left and which heads to Laxe. Those who seek solitary landscape will enjoy the difficult but beautiful scenery between Camelle and Laxe, and the magnificent beach of Traba.
One must get to know the old part of town in Laxe and the Parish Church of Santiago, constructed in the 14th century in Ogival style. On the beach at the end of the town is the Geological Institute which attracts students and researchers from all over the world, interested in studying the complex Galician geology. Six kilometers farther on, near the narrow mouth of the Ponteceso ría, is the highway which leads to the Dombate dolmen. At the crossroads again, we should continue to Ponteceso, another 6 kms. away. The town, situated between the ría and the pine-covered mountains, is a fine example of this type of settlement which sprouted up in a well-protected bay and whose fishing fleet is sheltered against the Atlantic storms.
In order to reach Corme, we must take the local highway which cuts through some small villages until it reaches the ancient port. Some authors have located the limit of the «Costa de la Muerte» or Coast of Death, called thusly because of its long history of sea-wrecks. However, the characteristics of this section heading towards Malpica are very similar to what we have been able to admire from Finisterre onwards: open beaches, reefs and cliffs which produce the best percebes (barnacles) in all Galicia and generally speaking all of the characteristics of a romantic landscape which will continue for several more kilometers still. The legends which are still told in this area merely stress the vaguely magical air which floats over the tradicional culture of the Berganza Valley and its coast. There are those who still affirm today -with a slightly ironic tone- that certain surnames in the region originate from a special race which was the fruit of a love affair between an illustrious sailor and a mermaid. Unfortunately, we do not have enough space here in order to go into the beautiful fables which were born in this area. We might merely say that there is a whole series of formulas on how to distinguish a mermaid when she is trying to pass herself off as a real woman. The mermaids have very smooth soles at the bottom of their feet -Iike that of a newborn infant- and the absence of a belly button seems to be unmistakable proof that the creature in question belongs to Neptune's kingdom.
If we return to our itinerary, a highway leads from Ponteceso to Malpica (13 kms. away), an old city whose highest point is the church which is, nevertheless, not very far from the sea. The fact that the dikes trace a very irregular, zig-zag tine for the ships entering the port, gives us a good idea of the dangers which this sea represents under storm conditions. The rather big fishing fleet huddles together on one side of the mouth for safety purposes. The city, though it does not have any truly relevant monument, is nevertheless attractive. At the other side of the península from the city center is a fine beach area.
From Malpica it would be worth the traveller's while to visit the San Adrián cape, opposite Sisarge island and the two other neighboring islands. The area is highly attractive and it is scarcely populated by anything more than the flocks of seagulls.
In order to continue our journey to Cayón, we have to take the Carballo highway farther inland for about 20 kms., and then we should head towards A Coruña, turning left in the direction of the cape. After about 12 kms. we will discover Cayón, a small town surrounded almost entirely by the sea. The village square is presided over by a Renaissance church and an old mansion which is the best starting point for getting to know this small fishing nucleus.From A Coruña To Betanzos
This section of the coast is made up of Las Mariñas -the full rías of A Coruña, Betanzos and El Ferrol- and the rugged countryside in the North of the province. It covers many important cities, some of which are tradicional summer holiday resort areas, and the nearby monasteries of Monfero and Caaveiro, in addition to other lesser known corners which make up the outskirts of the Estaca de Bares. The traveller will see that a rather busy program of activities awaits him and he will discover places which are highly different from one another.
A Coruña is a city which possesses a very strong personality, and its profile is made up, in equal parts, of the port, the historic part of town and its literary and military past. Our advice upon arriving at A Coruña is to leave your car at the Dársena -an avenue lined with glass-enclosed facades which is the most representative view of the city- and begin the visit, calmly, on foot, through the narrow streets of the old part of town and the beautiful gardens of San Carlos. Behind the Dársena is the Puerta Real and the Plaza de María Pita. The Town Hall, a very important building of the beginning of the century, and the nearby Church of San Jorge, of the 18th century, are the first monuments we come to. Very close by, near the Plaza de la Harina is the parish church of Santiago, a Romanesque temple, with Ogival features and reflecting a clear Compostela influence. The building which houses the Capitanía General is a fine example of classic 18th century architecture. On the other side of the Plaza de la Harina, among streets of medieval design is the Pazo de Cornide (an 18th century house which belonged to an illustrious resident of A Coruña) and the 13th century Romanesque Collegiate Church.
We could not possibly mention all of the monumental landmarks and the interesting corners of A Coruña. The traveller could, however, discover on his own a good deal of what there is to see in this popular port city. There is still one visit which should in no way be missed: The Garden of San Carlos, enclosed in its medieval fortress, one of the most impressive spots and reflected in the writings of the Countess of Pardo Bazán.The house in which this writer was born has become a Museum and the headquarters for the Galician Academy is located at Rua de Tabernes, near the Puerta Real.
The Castle of San Antón and the Tower of Hércules are outside of the heart of the city but it is not a very long walk.The castle houses the Archaeological Museum, constructed in the 16th century to defend the port. lt once stood on a small island but it is now connected to the main land. The Tower of Hércules was erected during the Roman domination on one of the far ends of the peninsula. Though its origins have been enveloped in many more or less believable legends which links its construction to the Celtic leader Breogán, the truth of the matter is that we would have to catalogue it among the best monuments of Spain's classic legacy.
If we leave A Coruña in the direction of Betanzos, that is keeping the ría on our left, the traveller will soon come to a turnoff on the left which passes over the mouth of the Cambre. lt forks into National Highway VI and a local road which leads to Sada. Naturally we are interested in the latter, but we will still have to decide if we wish to continue directly to Sada passing by the Pazo de Meirás or if we will make a little circle in order to get to know the towns along the coast. In this last case, after about 5 kms., the traveller will find the turn-off to Mera, a beautiful summer resort area which dominates one of the best views of A Coruña and the Tower of Hércules. Once we are here, it will be worth our while to approach Seijo Blanco, a rocky hill near the Mera lighthouse. From Mera, the itinerary continues to Dexo where the Romanesque Church of Santa María and the Castro of Subiña should be visited. The local highways which join the small towns of the region to one another all lead to Sada in the end. Upon his arrival, the traveller will have the fishing port, which is noted for its excellent sardine catch, on the left and opposite, the only seaboard village which has become a popular summer resort. About 4 kms. from Sada and heading back to A Coruña is the Pazo de Meirás, built in the past century for the Countess of Pardo Bazán and at present the property of the heirs of Francisco Franco.
In Sada, the traveller has already seen the Betanzos ría. The road which we are proposing now heads towards the mouth of the Mandeo and the city which is also so named. We should take the Puente del Pedrido bridge in order to come once again to National Highway VI and Betanzos is just 8 kms. away -one of the most beautiful cities on the Galician coast.
We enter Betanzos through a monumental doorway which faces a very steep street. Heading up the street the traveller will come directly to the Plaza -o Campo- one of the most charming corners of the town. Almost the entire city is made up of glass-enclosed facades and old stone houses. The square, with its portico and out-door tables in fine weather, is of special interest. There is a fountain (a reproduction of the Fountain of Diana, of the French Palace of Versailles) and a monument which represents two eminent residents of Betanzos looking towards America. Opposite this statue is the Palace which houses the Archives of the Kingdom of Galicia, which has a fine Neo-classic facade dated in the 18th century. Very close by is the also eighteenth century building used as the Municipal Library. However the place of honor is held by the Church of the ancient Convent of Santo Domingo which was first built in the 16th century but it was redone two centuries later.
As we leave the square at the corner where the music bandstand is found we will soon come to the nucleus made up of the Churches of Santa María del Azoque and San Francisco, the latter of which is crowned by a wild boar which is the emblem of the Andrade family, one of whose members was responsable for the construction of the Monastery in the 14th century. Inside is a very valuable artistic collection, of which the tomb of Fernán Pérez de Andrade stands out. The Palace which houses the Town Council and the nearby church of Santiago have similar characteristics.
However for lovers of romantic settings, we suggest a detour of 24 kms. to the Monastery of Monfero, a building in ruins (only the church is currently in use) which was in its better times, a solitary but nevertheless wealthy enclave of the Cistercian Order. Here we will discover a fine Baroque temple with an interesting facade and two beautiful cloisters, one is Ogival and the other, Baroque. In any case, the melancholy attractiveness of this structure is enhanced by its state of abandon.From Betanzos To El Ferrol
Once again in Betanzos, the itinerary heads back to the coast until we come to the peaceful holiday resort of Miño and its magnificent beach. Just 7 kms. farther on, we come to a local highway on the right which leads to the Castle of Andrade, of the 14th century, of which the keep is still conserved.
Pontedeume is only 3 kms. beyond the crossroads which marked the turn-off to the Castle. Here again we are in a medieval village with steep narrow streets. Set at the mouth of the Eume and beside the no longer existent Palace of a member of the powerful Andrade family -a magnificent keep with a Gothic window and a huge coat of arms is all that remains-, this tiny village has all the flavour of days gone by. The best time to visit the streets of its old quarter is on Saturday afternoon when the famous 0 Feirón or market of vegetables and local produce is set up. The Pulpeiras cannot be lacking, those who cook the pulpo or fresh octopus in huge copper urns right before the public. The parish church stands out above the village and is adjacent to the remains of fortifications which afford a splendid view of the Ares ría. On the other side of the bridge is the Cabañas beach.
We must follow the course of the Eume upstream along a winding, narrow highway to come to the Monastery of Caaveiro. After 12 kms. of beautiful countryside we will have to leave the car to one side and continue our climb on foot. The Monastery was founded by San Rosendo in 934 and its ruins are impressive, inviting our imagination to reconstruct the structure and the solitary life of this Benedictine Convent, lost in the midst of a thick forest.
Back in Pontedeume, the traveller can take a short cut to El Ferrol along the bridge which begins at Fene or he can take his time driving through the small península of Ares and Mugardos. These two towns, facing the sea, have a very sea-going, peaceful air, despite their proximity to the major city of El Ferrol. Fene is, in fact, a busy industrial community with an important ship-building company.
We are now very close to El Ferrol, which is interesting to visit not because of any monument in particular but because of the fascinating lay-out of the city itself, a fine example of the Neo-classic urban development promoted by Carlos III during the second half of the 18th century. The history of El Ferrol is very closely linked to the shipbuilders and to the naval battles, resulting from its strategic location. lt seems that when a British squadron was defeated in 1800 by a far inferior local contingent, Napoleon supposedly drank to the health of those brave ferrolanos. This admiration did not, however, prevent the illustrious French general from invading the city nine years later. There is still evidence in the port area and the streets of the Magdalena quarter, of the industrious nature and the business conducted in this city during the 18th and especially the 19th centuries.
At this point, we can begin the second half of the journey, which will take us through more untouched landscape. A highway in El Ferrol will take us directly to Cedeira, Ortigueira and Estaca de Bares. Before we resume our journey, however, we recommend that the traveller take a short side-trip to the nearby Castle of San Felipe (6 kms. away) which was constructed in the middle of the 16th century to defend this ría. Not far is the Cabo Prior, a magnificent watchtower which rises above some very beautiful beaches.
A large proportion of the ingredients to be found in the local cooking of A Coruña come from the sea. Fish, seafood and shellfish help enrich many typical dishes which rely, first and foremost, on excellent quality for their fame. Accordingly, a good meal may start with goose barnacles, lobster, spider crabs, sea crabs, scampi, prawns, pilgrim scallops, oysters, clams, mussels, cockles, razor-clams, octopus and squid. Seafood and shellflsh are usually boiled but can also be enjoyed in soups, seafood cocktails, salads and omelettes.
Octopus is normally served in the style known as "a feira" (boiled, diced, sprinkled with paprika and usually served en wooden platters). As far as saltwater fish are concerned the list is almost endless: hake, cod, grouper, brill, turbot, sole, tunny fish, bass, angler, bib, whiting and sardines. In addition, the rivers provide such species as trout, salmon and lamprey. The different cooking styles for fish range from "a la gallega" to "en caldeirada" as well as the fish pie known as empanada. A range of sauces accompanies the nobler varieties of fish, while the humble sardine is typically served with cachelos (potatoes). As regards meat, it is veal which is outstanding. Lacón (shoulder of pork) is yet another typical dish, generally served with grelos (turnip greens).
Similar in taste to this dish and cocido gallego (Galician stew) is caldo gallego (Galician broth). One of the best-known crops are the pimientos (small, fiery, green peppers) from Padrón, whereas typical wines from the area include those from Ulla and Betanzos. The local grapes go to produce some excellent eau-de-vie-type liqueurs, which can be drunk neat or as a typical queimada at the end of a meal. Desserts include the cottage cheeses from Curtis and Arzúa, tarta de Compostela (almond cake) and melindres. During Camival time one rnay also try the typical confectionery that includes filhoas, orejas and flores. Those who enjoy fruit will find excellent pears, apples, strawberries, peaches and plums.
FiestasFestivities And Religious Gatherings
In A Coruña there are more festivities than there are towns and villages, since each and every hamlet holds several fiestas during the year. Hence, whatever the season or time of year, the visitor has a good chance of being able to attend such an event. lt is in the summer however when this kind of activity is at its height.
For instance, there are the typical waterborne processions in Muros, Corcubión and Camariñas held in honour of the Virgen del Carmen, with Laxe, Malpica and Rianxo providing further venues for similar displays of devotion to the Virgin Mary. In addition, there are tradifional sea battles at Muros, the sardine fesfival at Sada, the sinking and subsequent symbolic rescue of a boat and its crew in the Laxe ría, and the "abalar a pedra", the rocking and tipping of a stone boat opposite the Muxía sanctuary.
In August there are also excursions, known as "Jira de Os Caneiros", which depart from Betanzos and go up the Mandeo to mark the feast of San Roque.
On the religous side, mention must be made of the pilgrimages to San Andrés de Teixido, to which "vai de morto o que non foi de vivo' (he who never went alive goes as a corpse"), and the procession of Las Mortajas (the Shrouds) or El Nazareno at Pobra do Caramiñal, in which people who have been at death's door take part, accompanied by friends or relativas shouldering coffins. Typical local festivities of interest include those of María Pita in A Coruña, and those of San Roque in Betanzos. The latter take place on the night of August 16th when an enormous balloon decorated with different allegories is released. In Santiago de Compostela the festivities of El Apóstol reach a climax on July 24th with the setting alight of a firework castle erected in front of the Obradoiro façade, a vivid reminder of Baroque times.
Distinctive romerías (religious gatherings or excursions), typical dances and any number of activities that might conceivably be associated with fiestas await the traveller as he roams the highways and byways of this region ... wherever he goes, whatever the time of year.
The popular techniques have been kept alive in Galicia in almost every area. Basket-weaving, pottery-making, weaving, wood-working and, in general, all of those skills typical of a rural environment are present here with some very specific and personal characteristics which reflect their unmistakably autochtonous nature. The traveller will find (sometimes in their places of origin, but certainly in specialized shops of recognized quality) some examples which could certainly be part of important ethnological collections.
Galician basket-weaving involves the use of a wide range of materials: from objects made with strips of chestnut wood or wicker rods to delicate straw braidings, which are used on the famous Noya hats or the primitive corozas, which were typical of the Miño region.The corozas are unusual capes -with hoods and trousers included- and made from trusses of woven straw. Its use as rainwear does not really justify its rather awkward appearance and it is really only intended now for souvenirs and as collector's items. A similar but much more frequent case is that of the ollas, which are wicker jugs made with oak strips and which are covered on the inside with tar. They were used to decant the wine. The traveller will come across imitations, some of which are good, and which employ synthetic varnish instead of tar to line these narrow-necked and thick-based jugs.
Pottery work shares a place of honor with the basket-weaving. Buño, Niñodaguia, Bonxe and Dodró are just some of the major production centers. The black ceramic work of Buño and the varnished pieces with the earthy or green tones are found in any village fair and, of course, in many shops. The large bowls for the queimada, the typical Galician drink, are perhaps the most wellknown objects but they are not the only representative items of Galician pottery work. Purely ornamental pieces are made and even though they may not at times be all that tradicional, they are also very outstanding. Special mention should be made of the Sargadelos porcelain, whose factory was inaugurated in 1804. Today an important research and educational project is being carried out there.
The wood work continues to meet the needs which have always existed. Once again we can say that fine samples of the local work can always be found in any fair, where we can discover an enormous variety of dishware and the magnificent zuecos or wooden shoes which are used in the small towns during the rainy season.
The textile business is still very active but it never really exceeds the limits of a domestic production. The flax -rather rare now- and the wool are the primary materials of a production which continues to be highly tradicional. The lace of Camariñas, whose making should be witnessed directly by the traveller, is, without a doubt, the most exquisite aspect of the tradicional Galician weavings.
However, there are still more temptations for the capricious traveller: the votive offerings of the bread dough of San Andrés de Teixido, the figas, which protect against the evil eye (a closed fist, with the thumb poking out from between the index and middle finger). The Compostela silverware might be a bit more expensive but they are certainly worth the purchase.