Galicia: A warm and natural paradise
During the last European Youth Voice Seminar which took place in Madrid, we had several interesting presentations about the hometowns of each European participant.
I would like to write this article about my hometown: Galicia, concretely the Galician area called Boiro, a seaside town located in The Rias Baixas (Lower Rias) a kind of sea inlet situated in the southwestern coast.
GALICIA: LOCATION AND HISTORY
- *Country: Spain
- *Capital (Political): Santiago de Compostela
- *Provinces: A Coruña, Lugo; Ourense and Pontevedra
- *Area Total: 29,574.4 Km2
- *Population: 2, 765, 940
- *Density: 94/Km2
- * Statute of Autonomy: 28 April 1981
Galicia is one of the seventeen communities of Spain. It is located in the Northwest, bordered by Portugal to the south and really close to the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, is divided in four provinces: A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra.
The history of this area is truly interesting in the sense that we have our own way in comparison to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.
One of the most important things regarding Galicia´s history is the Celtic Influence.
It was first occupied by Celtic People during the last millennium B.C
Celtic Culture had a big importance and influence in my hometown. We are still having some Celtic roads and constructions as the famous: Dólmenes or Castros (from latin Castrum, castle) a kind of forts located in the hills. Each year, lots of people came from all over the world to see the magic of Galicia`s Celtic Heritage.
One important thing to highlight regarding Galicia history is that, unlike the rest of Spain, Muslims never attended to have any power or control over here.
After being an independent kingdom: the Kingdom of Galicia, in the Middle Age, Galicia was incorporated to the Kingdom of Leon and later of the Kingdom of Castilla.
As a place which have official status of a historic nationality, people of Galicia have their own language: Galician language, a Romance language closely similar to Portuguese language.
Regarding the demography and lifestyle, nowadays it has approximately 2,765,940 habitants. Unfortunately, Galicia`ve lost a high number of habitants over the last years. We need to emphasize that this number is just the 6% of the population of Spain.
ECONOMY AND LIFESTYLE
Regarding lifestyle, Galician people usually work in the sea. The major economic benefit in Galicia is the Sea industry, concretely the Fishing Industry, especially in the western coast, like Rias Baixas. A lot of families work in fishing activities connected to get (from the sea) and sell (around the town markets) seafood like octopus, percebes (crustaceans) or clams.
While the Fish Industry is really important in the coast, Galician areas like Ourense and Lugo -the rural hinterland- are connected to a kind of traditional agriculture. It should be note that Galicia has a really big number of hills and rural areas. A very important Galician writer, Manuel Rivas, said that Galicia is the “land of one million cows”. We have a lot of meadows and family farms.
Galicia`s traditional agriculture is specially based on Minifundios and Latifundios (small landholdings). Furthermore, nowadays Organic Agriculture and Organic Food is one important issue in Galician economy.
Another important sector in the economy of Galicia is Manufacturing. This includes Textile Industry (like the world`s largest fashion retailer Inditex, a Galician brand), Granite work, Automobile Industry sector and Shipbuilding.
While Shipbuilding is located in Vigo and Ferrol, Textile and Granite Work Industry are particularly located in A Coruña and Vigo.
Regarding Tourism Industry, the most important areas for this sector are Rias Baixas and Santiago de Compostela.
The first one is really rich in seafood and awesome landscape where forest and the sea are together and coast tourism.
Meanwhile, Santiago de Compostela brings each year lots of people from all over the world to enjoy the Saint James`s Way and the magic of the historical city.
It should be noted that in 2006, The Sunday Times said that Galicia has the lowest cost of living of Spain.
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO (St. James`s Way)
The jewel in the crown of Galicia is the Saint James´s Way or Camino de Santiago.
St. James`s Way is the European`s oldest pilgrimage route and also the most travelled one. Each year, lots of people, we can say hundreds of thousands of people or Catholic pilgrims, come each year from all over the world to Santiago doing this special and magic way.
Some people do this particular route following some kind of religion issue: For catholic people, the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great is located inside Santiago`s Cathedral. Furthermore, people do the way to something connected to the Catholic faith.
Unlike this people, another people do the way just for the spirit of overcoming and to enjoy the greatness and realization of the arrival to Santiago after doing lots of miles walking, by bicycle or even by horse.
Whatever the reason, enjoying the St. James Way bring people the opportunity of enrichment with the landscape, meet new people and eat the wonderful food of the way. But, you need to know that doing The Way is not easy: you would need to be ready to walk a lot of miles, maybe sleep in the outdoors… the best advice is to do the way with someone you really know it and just enjoy the magic of the way.
The Council of Europe declared the way the first European Cultural Route, in October 1987. It was also named one of the Unesco´s World Heritage Site.
There are several routes to arrive with many different kinds of ways. The main area of route is The French Way and Via Regia.
Pilgrims could walk for days, weeks or years to arrive to Santiago de Compostela. They use to sleep in some kinds of refuge or hostel for pilgrims located in the middle of the different routes. They can also combine this option with sleep outdoors, in the forest or close to some beaches.
It should be noted that this special way stretches from different countries of Europe (even North Africa) on its way to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre.
Regarding Finisterre, we can say that this rock bound Peninsula is located on the west coast of Galicia, Spain and has a spectacular and famous lighthouse which attracts thousands of people each year. A big number of Saint James`s routes pass through this magic point close to the sea. In Roman times, people used to believe that Finisterre was the end of the known world.
Well, at this point, we are ready to introduce Boiro, my hometown.
Boiro is a municipality located in the south of A Coruña. It is situated among the Muros and Noia Inlet and the Arousa Inlet, on the Barbanza Peninsula. It has 86 km2 and it boast 37 km2 of coastline in the lower bays of Galicia.
Boiro is an awesome town to visit, specially by summer. We have lots of amazing places and landscapes such as rivers, beaches, mountains and also the picturesque and lovely towns which make up Boiro.
A special place to visit here is the higher mountain of Boiro: La Curota. There you can truly enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape.
HISTORY AND ARCHEOLOGY
Boiro, like the rest of Barbanza, is an archaeological site with a great amount of archaeological discoveries such as the Palaeolithic findings around the several mountains such as Iroite Mountain.
Throughout Boiro`s history there have been numerous Castros (pre-roman fortified villages). The coastal Castro of Baroña (a nearly place to Boiro) is an outstanding example.
These Celtic constructions could be seen as well in various bridges, cliffs or in some Dólmenes.
The majority of these constructions are dated 5.000 B.C and were used as funerary monuments. The biggest one is called “Arca do Barbanza” (Barbanza`s arc). Situated close to Barbanza`s River, it has 6 meters long and comes from the Neolithic Period.
We also have several engravings from the Bronze Age in outdoors rocks. The most important are petroglyphs shaped like circles or bowls. An important example of these engravings is San Ramón de Bealo Engravings and Laxe das Cabras Engravings.
When Roman people came to Galicia, several places started to be connected and communicated throughout roman streets. One example of this is Per Loca Marítima whose ruins are keep conserved in some Boiro places like Moimenta or Belles, however the most important remains are located in Vitres (Lampón). Here we can enjoy of this roman street around its 150 meters.
CIVIL AND POPULAR ARCHITECTURE: CHURCHS AND PAZOS(PALACE)
Although the majority of Boiro`s churches are from the XIII centurie, the design that they have is typical from the XVII-XVIII, because of remodeling and restoration issues.
Boiro`s architectonic heritage manifests itself in all its glory in the religious architecture. The eight parishes in which Boiro is divided are the outstanding sample of the different architectonical styles.
Romanic style is the most important architectonical style. We can see this sample in Boiro`s Church, called Santa Baia`s Church.
This main church of Boiro is located in the town center. The Romanic style is appreciated in its capitals which are enough blurred because of the constant restorations.
Inside this main church we can appreciate some pictures and sculptures from the Modern Age.
Another important churches around Boiro are:
San Andrés de Cures Church
Santiago de Lampón Church
San Vicente de Cespón Church
San Xoán de Maceira
Pazos are another monuments that make up Boiro`s Civil and Popular Architecture. These are big houses like small and civil palaces that important and noble people used to build around Middle Ages in Galicia.
These big houses are called pazos and were built by noble people and used to have defensive purpose in the popular uprisings against noble people.
Furthermore, noble people used to build these big houses to show their power and status in the town.
Inside Pazos, it used to be a little church and a horreo (typical Galician construction to keep the grain).
One of the most important Pazos in Boiro is Torre-Pazo de Goiáns.
Torre-Pazo de Goiáns was, at first, one old medieval fortress which was destroyed by some popular uprising known by Revoltas Irmandiñas. There, it would be rebuilt by Domingo de Andrade, a famous and important galicia architect from the Baroque Age.
Shaped in form of L, this pazo has one awesome rectangular tower in the lateral wich- at the same time- has a wonderful balustered viewpoint.
The first habitants of this pazo, the noble Fariño-Mariño family, built as well an own stone shipper located in the Coroño river, the channel most important of Boiro.
Another important Pazos that we can visit around Boiro are:
Pazo de Agüeiros
Pazo de Ribademar
Pazo de Caamaño o Sandrenzo
Pazo de Vimieiro
Like another seaside Galician town, in Boiro we celebrate several popular festivals , most of these in honor of its patron and with a religious issue. Another festivals could be carnival, Easter, sardine barbecues… In all of them the seafood has a really important role.
Video from The Telegraph journal.