Galicia – A Successful Marriage between the Old and the New

Northern Spain and Galicia particularly has long been an undiscovered jewel in the whole of the Spanish tourism 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.

With regards to Galicia you have a region where you have a rugged coastline with extremely attractive sandy beaches whilst inland the mountainous regions provide a completely different experience for the visitor.

Of all of the autonomous regions of Spain it is understandable given its location that Galicia is considered 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.

As well as beautiful scenery in Galicia you have excellent cuisine especially the seafood whilst at the same time you have right on your doorstep one of the most visited religious pilgrimage sites in the world at 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 Galicians, whose origins are Celtic, are fiercely proud of their culture and language.

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. It absorbed little in the way of outside influence being fiercely resistant to all forms of outside intervention, was never conquered by the Moors, and in the Middle Ages fell under the control of the kingdom of Asturias. Apart from a brief interlude in the 11th and 10th centuries when Galicia fell briefly under the rule of the kingdom of Asturias, Galicia has always been an independent region.

One of the problems with Galicia as with some of the other remote communities in Western Europe lies within its geographical constraints. As with a lot of the major Celtic communities in Western Europe after a while the major industry became 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.

The port cities of and Corunna which are widely appreciated to be centres of culture and industry within Galicia. As befits a province that has such reliance on the sea, the seafood here is amongst the best in Spain and fishing is vital to the economy.

As well as the major ports the coastline of Galicia is dotted with tiny little fishing villages. The coast which was devastated by the damage caused by the 2002 sinking of the oil tanker Prestige has now by almost recovered and in some cases is almost better than ever.

The major geographical point on the Galician coastline is probably Cape Finisterre which is the westernmost part of the Spanish mainland. Inland the region is dotted with ancient Celtic settlements which can be found in the often mist shrouded hillsides. At road junctions and in towns throughout the region stand various old stone crosses and in the villages old stone granaries are quite commonplace.

The whole Celtic culture in Galicia is completed by the sound of the favourite instrument of Galicia, the bag pipes and their language, Gallego, is an amalgam almost of Portuguese and the various other Gaelic tongues and there is an extremely strong link between Galicia and some of the other Celtic Countries of North Western Europe.

Again this love of the arts and culture is very similar with other Celtic regions. This is further exemplified with the slight theme of melancholy running through quite often the words and music of the region. For those who find this a concept difficult to understand and view it as being purely depressing and boring then you have to try and understand the traditional background to the entire region and realize the centuries of hardship that these communities have had to withstand and as a result have manifested themselves in their traditional words music.