Known to the Romans as the end of the world, Galicia is the north-westernmost community of Spain and has the status of a historic nationality. A mountainous, region, it has a jagged coastline formed by a succession of inlets, rias (rivers) and wide, rocky estuaries.
Inland there are many meadow and forests; the countryside is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The area has a farming, hunting and seafaring tradition.
Aside from its territory on the Spanish mainland, Galicia also covers the archipelagos of Cies, Ons, Salvora, the Malveiras and Sisargas Islands and Cortegada and Arousa Islands.
Galicia is made up of the provinces of A Coruña, Ourense, Lugo and Pontevedra and the main cities are Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña and Vigo, in total the community has 1.2 million inhabitants.
History & Culture
Galicia has a culture all its own and a rich tradition of folklore. The region also has it's own language, known as Galego.
The region descends from the one of the first tribes of Celtic heritage in Europe and Galicians consider themselves as having a Celtic identity and background, rather than the predominantly ‘Latin’ or ‘Hispanic’ culture, which identifies most of the Iberian peninsula.
Having said that, Galicians have no separatist intentions, they consider themselves very much Spanish, despite the poorer nation attitude from the wealthy heart of Spain.
And if you hear the doleful strain of the bagpipes, don’t think you've suddenly been transported magically to Scotland; this is the ‘national’ instrument of Galicia too. The festivals of the region are the best way to discover the marvellous inventiveness of the Galician people, in the costumes, music, food and folklore.
The Airport of A Coruña lies 8 kilometres from the centre of the city, and receives international flights from most busy international destinations.
Santiago de Compostela airport receives international flights from Dublin, London Stansted, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Zurich, as well as many domestic cities; and international flights to Vigo arrive from Brussels and Paris.
The area can be reached from pretty much anywhere in the world using the main hubs of Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Paris, London, and Amsterdam.
The region is connected to the motorway network of Spain and further afield in Europe.
The main cities of La Coruña, Vigo and Santiago de Compostela are all connected by rail to Madrid and beyond.
The beautiful and often rugged coastline of Galicia is the longest (when taking into account all the coves bays and inlets) of all the communities of Spain. The result is a seemingly never-ending series of picturesque beaches and coves. The coastline is dotted with many ports and seaside towns.
Galicia is known as the land of a thousand rivers. These flow into the sea at estuaries and bays, or inlets, known locally as ‘rias’, which translates to a river.
Geographically the rivers are split into upper and lower rivers. The mid-point between the two is the well-known port of Finisterre (from the seafarers weather report) and whose name means the end of the earth.
Finisterre signifies changes in both landscape and climate. The upper rivers are backed by sparsely vegetated rocky mountainous hillsides. Temperatures are also often lower in the north, and the wind blows with a little more force. Generally it is also a little wetter in the north.
South of Finisterre the gentler backdrop to the coastline features pine and eucalyptus woods, as well as fields of crops and meadows; its an overall much greener and more benign region. The hills too are more rounded as you travel further south.
Galicia is blessed with an astonishing variety of stunning beaches, which range from golden to white sand with seas that can be crashing rollers or almost lakeside calm. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which wash these spectacular shores of Galicia, are cooler than the Mediterranean.
The uniqueness of the Galician culture is demonstrated in the local gastronomy: you will not find so much rice or pasta in Galicia as you do elsewhere. Potatoes tend to be the accompaniment of choice for fish and meat dishes.
Shellfish is very popular in Galicia and seafood is considered the staple diet. Galicia harvests more fruits of the sea than anywhere else in Europe; the sand beds of the coastline, and the many fishing ports, make this possible.
The astonishing variety of fish species and crustaceans are prepared and cooked in a myriad of dishes depending on the region within Galicia. With the main cities being so close to the ports, freshness is always assured.
The Galician climate is generally quite temperate; in the winter it is not uncommon for strong winds to blow off the sea. Throughout the year there is quite a bit of rain. Spring and summers are warm. Weather here is often changeable and can have several faces in one day.