A Quick Tour For The Highlights Of Galicia Spain
Our first stop in Spain on this trip was two days in Bilbao. The second stop was in Ferrol, Spain on our Oceania Cruises trip along Northern Europe. This port provided us with an opportunity to see some highlights of Galicia Spain.
The tour included three very different spots – Betanzos, Pazo De Marinan and Pontedume. We saw some common elements about the Galicia region as we toured the great sights along the sea coast.
Arriving In Ferrol
The sun was just coming up as we sailed into Ferrol. We watched the red sky and saw the convoy of fishing boats as they headed out. This was our first but not last sign that one of the highlights of Galicia Spain would be fresh seafood!
Galicia was called the “Green Spain”. About 60% of the region was covered with forest. There was a large amount of eucalyptus trees, brought to this region from New Zealand. We were surprised when we saw palm trees on our travels that day. They were brought back from the Americas and were considered a symbol of wealth.
Our guide said it was often damp and cloudy. So we were very lucky we had a sunny day to explore. The terrain was very mountainous. We travelled through long tunnels dug through mountains that connected this region with both Spain and Portugal.
On our route out, the bus travelled on the highway high above the coast. We saw the low tide in the morning with large stretches of mud and marsh. When we returned past the same spots in the afternoon, the tide was back in.
Strolling in Betanzos Was One Of The Highlights Of Galicia Spain
Our first stop was the small town of Betanzos. We took the switchbacks down to get to the water level. This used to be a major port but over the years the estuary filled with stones and sand.
The bus let us off in the Plaza Hermanos main square in town for a walking tour. We saw the statue of the two men who built the town after they returned from Argentina. There was also a water fountain (Fonte de Diana Cazadora). As was common in many European towns, this fountain had potable water. A woman filled up bottles with water.
Betanzos is on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim path. Our guide pointed out the sea shell sign with an arrow that showed the direction to Santiago. There were hostels in town for pilgrims. We saw modern pilgrims in town with their backpacks and walking sticks.
Much To See In Betanzos
As we walked up and down the cobblestone streets, we were intrigued with the variety and artistry in the balconies. We saw balconies decorated in tiles like we found in the Triana neighbourhood in Seville. The glass-enclosed balconies or “galerias” allowed the balconies to be enjoyed even on windy days and in cooler weather. We saw similar balconies when we stopped in La Oratava on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
Our guide stopped regularly and pointed out historic buildings and those built in traditional styles. The town of Betanzos was very similar to the other small towns in this region. It was one of the highlights of Galicia Spain we saw that day.
The Medieval Side Of Betanzos
We saw several remnants of medieval architecture in Betanzos. The Iglesia de San Francisco and the Iglesia de Santa Maria do Azogue sat beside each other. They were not open but we walked around the outside. Both churches were excellent examples of Galician architecture.
The Iglesia de Santa Maria do Azogue had an interesting rose window on the front and an intricately carved doorway and carved metal door. A stone cruceiro (stone cross) stood in front of the church. We were told that the cruceiros were “pardons from heaven”, built to obtain forgiveness for a sin.
On the roof of Iglesia de San Francisco we saw the first but not last statue of a pig. We knew that the Galicia region of Spain was the main producer of pork. But we could not remember if the pigs had another special meaning. It reminded us a bit of the boats we found in the churches in the Faroe Islands. Those boats were meant to protect the important fishing industry.
We stopped at the Santiago Church with its dual church steeples. The bell tower was an interesting piece of iron art. Similar to the Iglesia de Santa Maria do Azogue it had an interesting carved main door.
The medieval history of Betanzos and this region was one of the highlights of Galicia.
A Stop At Pazo De Marinan
The next stop on our tour of the highlights of Galicia was at Pazo de Marinan. This was an 18th-century country house. We walked through a gate and saw the front of the house first. Beside the house was a small chapel. The house design with the chapel reminded us of our visit to the Mateus Palace high in the Douro River Valley in Portugal. Our guide said there was much Portuguese influence in Galicia.
When we walked around the back we got another view of the vast size of the palace grounds. Pazo De Marinan was known for its spectacular gardens. There was a great view of the grounds when we went up on the patio. The main structured garden by the manor house was laid out in a geometric pattern of trimmed hedges. Our guide took us for a walk through the towering walnut trees, eucalyptus trees and flowering camellias.
The manor house was right on the river. It was low tide and we looked out over the vast stretch of mud. When we walked down to the river we saw the boat house that was used when guests arrived by water. With the tide low, we saw the whole house. When the tide came in, much of the house would be underwater.
A stop at Pazo De Marinan was another of the highlights of Galicia. It gave us a view of how nobility lived at one time in the past.
Lunch In Pontedume
Our final stop was in the small town of Pontedume. It was a traditional Galician town on the Eume River estuary.
Our guide promised us a short tour before a break for lunch. She marched us up and down the main streets of Pontedume. We saw the former palace. And again we saw an ancient pig statue. Above the town we saw the old tower. There were more of the balconies that were one of the highlights of Galicia that we found.
The guide finally freed us for lunch. We were told that the bars in town would be open for lunch. She explained that “tapas” were small portions and “racions” were larger portions meant to share. Unfortunately, most of the bars that people tried just served drinks. We finally found a very small bar that was serving food. We had tasty racions of both calamari and octopus.
This was my first serving of baked octopus. Fresh octopus and seafood was certainly one of the highlights of Galicia for us! We were headed back to Portugal and we knew we would find more of this lovely treat soon!
We Saw A Few Highlights Of Galacia Spain
It was early when we sailed into Ferrol and we did not see much of the transit. When we left, we chose to eat on the outside terrace and got a view as we left. There was lots to see in the narrow channel. As we sailed out past two forts that guarded the channel, we saw why this was once a major port.
It was a long day in the bus but we saw some of the highlights of Galicia Spain. We saw several small towns and the very distinctive balconies of the region. There was much to see as we strolled through the town of Betanzos. Time to stroll in the gardens at Pazo De Marinan provided a great relaxing break. Fresh local seafood was a perfect end and one of the highlights of Galicia for us.
We headed next to Porto on our cruise along the coast of Western Europe.
What is on your list for the highlights of Galicia Spain?
PIN To Pinterest: