Galicia in particular and Northern Spain in general have long been considered to be a hidden jewel in the entire Spanish tourist industry. All over Northern Spain the climate is much more moderate than the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and the autonomous regions that make up this area of the country have exactly what it takes to help visiting tourists have a good time.
The Galician coastline boasts two different features in that in certain places it is extremely rugged and in others it can boast some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain.
If you look at all of the autonomous regions that make up modern day Spain, Galicia has to be the most remote. Galicia is a region of contrasts in that in the one extreme you have a rugged beautiful coastline mixed with gorgeous beaches whilst inland you have beautiful mountain scenery.
The region is famous for its excellent cuisine and boasts one of the most visited religious pilgrimage sites in Western Europe after the Vatican in Santiago de Compostela. This particular pilgrimage site has actually generated a vast tourist industry all of its own that is vital to the economic viability of the region.
The cultural and language origins of Galicia are very much rooted within the Celtic family of communities found elsewhere in North West Europe.
Historically, always classed as the poorer cousin to some of the other richer regions Galicia had an economy that did not easily lend itself to modernisation. Galicia always seemed to be a very closed and inward looking area being fiercely resistant to any formal external invasion. For a region that was so proud of being fiercely independent Galicia only really had an independent monarchy during between the 10th and 11th centuries.
With the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Portugal bordering on the south opportunities for its inhabitants quite often were not that forthcoming. The result of this was that Galicia became very much like its Celtic cousins in the north such as Ireland and became a source of many waves of emigration.
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.
As you can imagine from a region where the coast plays such an important part, the major communities and cities lie on the coast at Vigo and Corunna. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the seafood cuisine is second to none as you would also expect from a region where fishing is one of the most vital sectors of the economy.
The coastline, cut with fjord like Rias is dotted with fishing villages. Galicia and its coastline like other parts of the Atlantic Coast was devastated in 2002 with the sinking of the oil tanker prestige however the coastline has appeared to make an outstanding comeback with a tremendous recovery and in some cases is almost as good as new.
Cape Finisterre, the most westerly part of the Spanish mainland is part of the Galician coast. Inland the region is dotted with ancient Celtic settlements which can be found in the often mist shrouded hillsides. As a further reminder of the traditional way of life still in existence in Galicia it is not uncommon to find various old stone crosses at crossroads and junctions throughout the region alongside old stone granaries found throughout the villages.
There is a very strong connection in Galicia with the Celtic culture found there and also dominant in some of the north-western territories of Europe such as Ireland, Scotland and Wales (not to mention the Bretons in France and the Basques elsewhere in Spain) and one of these connections is the traditional language of Galicia known as Gallego.
There are a great many similarities between Galicia and the other Celtic Countries and nowhere is this more evident with Art and Culture. With respect to the Galicians, there is a certain Melancholy to their traditional songs and poetry and this too they have in common with the Irish, Breton, Scottish, Welsh and other Celts. With regards to Galicia (as with County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland), as anyone who has experienced some of the fierce storms coming in from the Atlantic perhaps this is understandable.