Visit Galicia - Visit Vigo

By: Stephen Stewart

Northern Spain and Galicia particularly has long been an undiscovered jewel in the whole of the Spanish tourism industry and within that undiscovered jewel in particular we are going to take a look at Vigo.

Overall of all of the autonomous regions of Spain possibly Galicia is the most remote and this makes Vigo even more of an undiscovered treasure.

Traditionally, Galicia was seen as a poor agricultural region, whose economy 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, whose origins are Celtic, are fiercely proud of their culture and language; it is what makes them unique (they feel) within modern day Spain.

It absorbed little in the way of outside influence being fiercely resistant to all forms of outside intervention (and we mean all forms of outside intervention), was never conquered by the Moors, and in the Middle Ages fell under the control of the kingdom of Asturias.

Thankfully slowly throughout the 20th century Galicia has begun to develop a way in which to manage the traditional lifestyles with a modern community to ensure that none of its rich history is lost and this is now starting to show very real and tangible benefits as far as the local tourism economy is concerned.

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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