The Coastal Portuguese Way in Galicia

Discover the dramatic coastal landscape of Galicia's best-kept secret along this modern route of the Camino de Santiago.

By Regional Government of Galicia

The mouth of the river Miño from Mount Santa Trega (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Stretching 100 miles (162 km) to Santiago de Compostela, the Galician part of this route runs parallel to the Atlantic coast in an extraordinary fusion of art, landscapes, traditions, and hidden secrets.

Castro de Santa Trega and A Guarda (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

A Guarda

At first, the route runs at a right angle to the Miño River, entering its estuary. It begins at Monte de Santa Trega (Mount St. Thecla), a Castro-culture hillfort from the fourth century AD which is considered one of Galicia's most important archeological sites. It also has spectacular views over the Atlantic, the Portuguese coast, and the fishing village of A Guarda.

Via Cruscis on Mount Santa Trega (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Over the centuries, all sorts of ancestral beliefs and forms of religious devotion have been associated with this place. It is the site of one of Galicia's most popular romería pilgrimages in honor of the Virgin of St. Thecla, the patron saint of A Guarda.

A Guarda and mount Santa Trega (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Life in A Guarda revolves around its busy port: a sheltered haven offering a welcome respite from one of the wildest stretches of Galicia's Atlantic coast. The town's seafaring spirit is apparent wherever you look, from the Museum of the Sea to the bustling market. A Guarda also has several splendidly beautiful late-19th century Indian houses (casas indianas) built by locals returning from the Americas, fortresses, churches, and country houses known as pazos.

Atlantic coast in the vicinity of A Guarda (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Leaving this magnificent border town, the route continues along the Atlantic coast, whose light, appearance, and beauty change with the weather, leaving unforgettable memories in its wake. This is unquestionably one of the most spectacular landscapes of all the routes leading to Santiago de Compostela.

Oia, panoramic view (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Oia

The next town of interest along the route is Oia, known for its Cistercian Monastery of Santa María. The monastery was previously a fortress which successfully prevented enemy attacks. It is one of a very small number of Galician monasteries built by the sea.

Monastery of Santa María de Oia, aerial view (12th-18th Centuries)Regional Government of Galicia

Its perilous location, right on the sea, resulted in the Cistercian monks becoming artillery experts who saw off cannon fire from a Turkish naval offensive in 1624. Looking at this peaceful corner of Galicia today, it is almost impossible to imagine its bellicose past!

Monastery of Santa María de Oia, aerial view (12th-18th Centuries)Regional Government of Galicia

The building's different architectural styles are easy to spot: the remarkable Baroque facade and bell tower, the Romanesque church, and the cloister, rebuilt in the Renaissance style during the 16th century.

Baiona, aerial view (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Baiona

The route leads to Cape Silleiro, from where the Vigo Estuary flows toward the historic town of Baiona. Baiona's small yet beautiful old town holds the status of a Site of Historic and Artistic Significance. A stroll through its narrow, cobbled streets, with their colonnaded buildings and tiny churches, is a delightful experience.

Monterreal fortress (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

The imposing fortress of Monterreal is surrounded by a defensive wall that is just under two miles (three kilometers) long. It was built in the 11th century to protect the town from attacks by sea. It was rebuilt in the 17th century by the Count of Gondemar, and this restoration is what visitors see today. The building is now used as a luxury hotel.

Replica of the caravel La Pinta (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Baiona was the first European port to receive the news of the discovery of America. On March 1, 1493, the caravel Pinta reached Baiona, and its inhabitants were the first Europeans to be treated to the sight of the treasures of the New World: gold, corn, tobacco, and yucca. The town commemorates this historic event every year with its Arrival Festival (Fiesta de la Arribada). This event has been awarded the status of International Tourist Interest.

Virgin of the Rock on the mount of San Roque (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

One of Baiona's most famous structures (and one of the best places for spectacular views over the region) is the Virgin of the Rock (Virxe de Rocha), at the summit of San Roque. Standing almost 50 feet (15 m) high, it was built in the early 20th century. Visitors can climb up the inside of the structure via a spiral staircase.

Mouth of the river Miñor (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Nigrán

Crossing the medieval bridge at A Ramallosa, pilgrims continue until they reach Nigrán. According to tradition, in the Middle Ages, St. Elmo himself ordered the building of the bridge to cross the estuary of the Miñor River, which is the area's main geographical feature.

Praia América is one of the most popular beaches in the area, located in the parish of Panxón. Panxón is also home to the Votive Temple, designed by the architect Antonio Palacios, as well as the site of the remains of one of Galicia's oldest churches, built in the sixth century.

Aerial view of the port and the city of Vigo (2012)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia

Vigo

The main stop-off point on this route is in Galicia's most densely populated city, and one of the largest urban areas along the routes of the Camino de Santiago in Spain: Vigo.

Rúa dos Cesteiros, in Vigo (2016)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia

The name Vigo, which is very common in Galicia, captures the very essence of this city, as it is derived from the Latin word vicus, meaning inhabited village or place. Vigo is also known as the Olive City. This name comes from an olive tree planted in the atrium of the temple of Santa María (St. Mary) as a symbol of eternal life, by the monks of the Knights Templar.

Co-Cathedral of Santa María de Vigo (2006)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia

The collegiate church of Santa María is the co-cathedral of the diocese of Tui and Vigo. The current 19th-century building, built when the city was becoming an economic and cultural epicenter, replaced the original medieval church. It is located in the heart of the bustling, lively old town: the perfect place to get a sense of the real Vigo.

As a coastal city with a seafaring and industrial tradition, Vigo is a dynamic, sprawling city which is welcoming of new, quirky forms of cultural expression. This estuary landscape, not dissimilar to the fjords of northern Europe, has also provided fertile ground for literary works. Even Captain Nemo (and his creator, Jules Verne) sailed around it.

Vigo and its estuary were also one of the birthplaces of the lyric poetry movement known as the Galician-Portuguese lyric, or trobadorismo. This magnificent landscape inspired the legendary 13th-century troubadour, Martín Codex, to compose his heartrending Cantigas de Amigo. These were medieval songs about lost lovers, told from a female perspective. With the discovery of the Vindel Parchment (Pergamino Vindel) in 1914, the musical notation for this music was preserved.

Redondela

Leaving Vigo from the north of the city, and passing several hiking trails, we reach Redondela. This lively town is known for its cuttlefish, the spring festival held in May called maios, and its Summer Carnival. The town has been a hub for travel and transport since its earliest days.

Ensenada de San Simón, in the Vigo estuary (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Pilgrims leave behind the Ensenada de San Simón (St. Simon's Cove) and the island of the same name, known for its spectacular views of the sea and mountains, and shrouded in a magical light. Although the route continues along the coast as far as the city of Pontevedra, the Coastal Camino Portugués ends here, merging with the main Camino Portugués.

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