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Galicia is located right in the top western corner of Spain, right above Portugal. A unique part of the country, it has its own customs, culture, food and even language. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the region.
Forget the Costa del Sol or the Costa Dorada; Galicia is home to some of Spain’s best beaches. Galicia borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea, meaning that it has around 1,200 kilometres (746 miles) of coastline, and is home to many spectacular beaches. Playa de Rodas, in the Islas Cies, is one of the most picturesque.
Located in the province of A Coruña, along the Coasta da Morte (Coast of Death) you’ll find Finisterre, which means ‘the end of the Earth’. The westernmost point in Spain, it was once thought to be the end of the world, but the Azores Islands in Portugal are now known to be Europe’s westernmost point.
Galicia is dotted with many natural swimming pools, heated by thermal waters. Mostly situated in the Ourense province, they are perfect places to stay toasty and warm during Galicia’s cold winters. One of the best outdoor spas is Termas Prexigueiro, where you can enjoy a thermal circuit of five different hot pools.
Galicia may not be internationally renowned for its food, in the same way as Valencia is famous for its paellas, or the Basque Country for its pintxos, but it is home to some unique and tasty cuisine. Check out our top dishes from Galicia you should try, from Galician-style octopus to tarta de Santiago made from almonds. The portions here are absolutely huge, so you won’t go hungry.
Many areas in Spain have their own language. In Catalonia they speak Catalan, while in the Basque Country, they speak Basque. In Galicia they speak Gallego. It is an official language here, along with Spanish, and is spoken by around 2.4 million people. A Romanesque language, it has a lot in common with both Spanish and Portuguese.
Galicia has a lot in common with other Celtic lands such as Brittany, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Galicians even have their own local form of bagpipes, which they play on special occasions, such as festivals.
Galicia’s most famous drink is queimada, often served at fiestas and special events. It’s made from Aguadiente liquor, sugar, coffee beans, lemon peel and cinnamon sticks, and is set on fire and stirred until all the sugar has melted into the mixture. Often referred to as witches’ brew, it’s a potent concoction.
Bordering both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea, Galicia is one of Spain’s top seafood regions, and many of its most famous dishes are based on fish or shellfish. The region even celebrates seafood at the famous O Grove Seafood Festival. You’ll find everything here from oysters and mussels to octopus, spider crabs and even goose barnacles, a local delicacy.
Galicia, like many areas in Spain, celebrates many festivals throughout the year. The Os Peliqueiros Carnival in Laza is unique, featuring characters with huge masks and colourful uniforms parading through the streets with whips. Another notable festival is the Rapa das Bestas (literally ‘capture of the wild beasts’), which takes place in the village of Sabucedo and involves the capture of wild mountain horses.
Don’t imagine that Galicia has the same hot and sunny weather as the rest of Spain. It doesn’t. Galicia is famous for its rainy and chilly weather, and it can be pretty unpredictable, even in summer. Don’t worry though; just remember to bring a few extra layers and a rain jacket, as well as your bathing suit, and you’ll be prepared for every eventuality. Galicia’s wet weather is exactly what makes it so beautiful. Part of the region known as ‘green Spain’, it’s filled with verdant rolling hills and leafy forests.