Discovering Mystic Northern Spain and Galicia

By: Scott James

Northern Spain and Galicia particularly has long been an undiscovered jewel in the whole of the Spanish tourism industry. All over Northern Spain the climate is much more moderate than the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and the autonomous regions that make up this area of the country have exactly what it takes to help visiting tourists have a good time.

The Atlantic coast of northern Spain boasts extremely attractive sandy beaches whilst inland the mountain ranges are criss-crossed by numerous foot paths.

If you look at all of the autonomous regions that make up modern day Spain, Galicia has to be the most remote. Found in the North West corner of Spain, Galicia as has been said is a region of vast contrasts.

Galicia is proud to be the home of one of the most visited religious pilgrimage sites in the world whilst of a more earthly nature the region is extremely famous for its excellent cuisine especially the seafood. Such is the nature of the pilgrimage site at Santiago de Compostela that it appears to have inspired a tourism industry of its own.

The Galicians, whose origins are Celtic, are fiercely proud of their culture and language.

Traditionally, Galicia was seen as a poor agricultural region, whose economy did not lend itself to modernisation. Galicia always seemed to be a very closed and inward looking area being fiercely resistant to any formal external invasion. For a region that was so proud of being fiercely independent Galicia only really had an independent monarchy during between the 10th and 11th centuries.

Bordering Portugal to the south and enclosed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the west Galicia could offer its inhabitants little in the way of new land for cultivation. As with a lot of the major Celtic communities in Western Europe after a while the major industry became emigration.

In what has been a mountain to climb slowly but surely Galicia is now trying to manage successfully the twin track of its regional lifestyle with a much more modern society.

Galicia has always maintained strong links with the sea and the port cities of Vigo and Corunna are centres of culture and industry. As befits a province that has such reliance on the sea, the seafood here is amongst the best in Spain and fishing is vital to the economy.

The small fishing villages dot the entire coastline. The coast which was devastated by the damage caused by the 2002 sinking of the oil tanker Prestige has now by almost recovered and in some cases is almost better than ever.

The most westerly point in Spain, Cabo Fisterra is situated in this rugged stretch of Galician coastline. Inland, the hillsides which are quite often shrouded in mist conceal the remains of Celtic settlements throughout the region. At road junctions and in towns throughout the region stand various old stone crosses and in the villages old stone granaries are quite commonplace.

There is a very strong connection in Galicia with the Celtic culture found there and also dominant in some of the north-western territories of Europe such as Ireland, Scotland and Wales (not to mention the Bretons in France and the Basques elsewhere in Spain) and one of these connections is the traditional language of Galicia known as Gallego.

The other way the Celtic tradition is also represented in Galicia is within the various art and Cultural forms. This is further exemplified with the slight theme of melancholy running through quite often the words and music of the region. With regards to Galicia (as with County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland), as anyone who has experienced some of the fierce storms coming in from the Atlantic perhaps this is understandable.

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