Vigo - a Tale of Two Cities

By: Scott James

With regards to the tourist industry within Spain, Northern Spain and in particular Galicia especially have been very much a hidden treasure and hidden within lies a further particular treasure called Vigo. Of all of the autonomous regions of Spain Galicia is considered the most remote and therein lies the charm of Vigo hidden away longing to be discovered.

Galicia has always been seen as a poor rural region, whose economy was dependent upon agriculture and fishing and did not lend itself to modernisation and yet as far as tourism is concerned it is this constant contact with the past that gives the region its appeal and charm.

The Galicians are fiercely proud of their culture and language and their Celtic heritage; it is what makes them unique (they feel) within modern day Spain.

Galicia always seemed to be a very closed and inward looking area being fiercely resistant to any formal external invasion and in many ways this degree of isolation was very much driven by the geographical location of the region.

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 and thankfully this appears to have had very positive results with regards to tourism with little sign of negative effects..

Vigo is the largest city in Galicia and is located on the western coast south of Pontevedra and west of Ourense. Vigo is immensely important with regards to the Spanish fishing industry and alongside Coruna is home to an industry that employs some 61,000 fishermen and 16,000 boats.

Vigo is a city that displays a rather remarkable and healthy geographical and sociological schizophrenia in that it very much falls into two halves. You have the old part of the town which is very much a working port, very down to earth and full of traffic problems, urban decay, poverty are all present and evident all over the place. However to counter this there are still memories of a golden heritage as an important port full of passengers all bound for London, South America and other parts of the New World. You have architecture and buildings that have obviously seen better days and down in the harbour you'll find fresh seafood available that is as good as any you'll find anywhere else in Europe. Contrast this with the new part of town around the Marina which is full of trendy restaurants and cafes and the difference is remarkable and you could very much think to yourself that you had possibly just walked into some extremely rare Space Time zone!

Vigo as a town is centred round a natural harbour and has existed for centuries. The harbour as we know it had been used by Phoenician and Celtic sailors long before the city as we know it was settled by the Romans. As a city Vigo's fortunes have waxed and waned to a variety of degrees depending on what was happening at the time, ranging from rapid expansion during the 18th and 19th centuries and corresponding stagnation during the "Franco years" when Spain as a whole became rather insular and isolationist.

A city very much full of contrast and another place are well worth a visit.

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