Stay in Southern Galicia

By: Stephen Morgan

With regards to the entire Spanish tourist industry Northern Spain and Galicia especially have been very much a hidden treasure and hidden within lies a further particular treasure called Southern Galicia.

Of all of the autonomous regions of Spain it is understandable given its location that Galicia is considered the most remote and therein lies the charm of Southern Galicia hidden away longing to be discovered.

The traditional concept of Galicia was always that it was supposedly a poor agricultural region and as such the economy would not be the easiest to modernize yet one of the fasted growing sub sectors within the Galician Economy is tourism and it is this very real relationship with its historical past that give the region its particular appeal.

The cultural and language origins of Galicia are very much rooted within the Celtic family of communities found elsewhere in North West Europe and has led to Galicia always having a sense of looking outwards from their regional base as opposed to looking inwards towards the rest of Spain.

Because of its location and partisan traditions Galicia was always fairly inward looking having managed to survive throughout the centuries without ever really been conquered by anybody and this degree of fierce independence has lasted and developed down through the centuries.

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..

If you take a look at Galicia on a geographical basis and divide it into four quadrants or two halves then the southernmost part would be that area south of a line drawn between Santiago de Compostela in the west and possibly the Reserva Nacional de os Ancares in the east which as anyone who knows the area covers quite a wide area.

Included within this area is the major city of Vigo and just north is the provincial capital of Galicia's southern province, Pontevedra. Southern Galicia also includes further to the east Ribadevia, Ourense, Monasterio de Ribas de Sil and Monforte de Lemos. Further south almost on the Portuguese border you will find the Mino River Valley.

The Mino River is actually Galicia's longest river covering approximately 190 miles from its source high up in the Sierra de Mierra in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. On its way downstream it flows through the towns of Lugo and Ourense entering the Atlantic at A Guarda. The river valley is actually a beautiful landscape of steep valleys and extremely good agricultural land and the hidden jewel in all of this is that it is here where the best wines in Galicia are grown. The area produces nice crisp white wine called Ribeiro.

There is an interesting drive through the valley for a tourist that is approximately 47 miles and there are many interesting stopping off places along the route. To the south of the route you will find Salvaterra de Mino leading next to Arbo, Crescente and finally leading up to Melon. Here you will find the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Melon which once belonged to the Cistercians. Fragments of the original buildings dating back to the 12th Century have survived and make this an interesting site to walk around.

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