Nothing is more hidden than those times during which we didn't live.

Through this journey through the deepest recesses of the treasures of Arousa, we'll get a close-hand look at the modus vivendi of the ancient civilizations that left their mark on the finest spots of our land.

The old folks say that between the Dolmen de Axeitos and the natural rock formation known as the Pía do Frade (Friar's Sink) is a putlog made of gold, a mythical construction in which legends claim there are valuable treasures.  Each year, thousands of people pack this space to witness the landing of the Vikings. Aboard a draka, sporting horned helmets, the new Vikings act out the attack made the Nordic peoples over a millennium ago.

Other information of interest...
- Centro Arqueolóxico do Barbanza: Open Thursday to Sunday. Contact: 981 843 810. (www.centroarqueoloxicodobarbanza.org).
- Muíño de mareas da Seca: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 2:00 pm and from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. More information at  www.cambados.es.
- Museo Etnográfico e do Viño: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 2:00 pm and from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. More information at  www.cambados.es.
- Parque Arqueolóxico de Campo Barroso: Information and reservations, phone 981 69 60 66 or via  reservas@paar.es. More info en www.paar.es

Day 1

With the town of Ribeira as our starting point, our foray into Neolithic architecture begins with a visit to the dolmen de Axeitos, also known as the Pedra do Mouro (Moor's Stone). Walking along a tree-lined path steeped in silence, we find this prehistoric communal grave.

It looks regal despite dating back to between 4000 and 3600 BC and being one of the oldest megalithic funerary monuments in Galicia. The old folks say that between this dolmen and the natural rock formation known as the Pía do Frade (Friar's Sink) is a putlog made of gold, a mythical construction in which legends claim there are valuable treasures..

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Taking a jump in the history of our evolution, we direct our steps towards the fortified pre-Roman Iron Age village of Neixón Grande e Pequeno, in the town of Boiro. Descending towards the estuary, we are following a path that goes directly to the Neixón peninsula, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Arousa. The hillforts of Neixón sprang up between the eighth and seventh centuries BC on the rocky tip of this peninsula, protected by rocks and strong embankments. Walk on this piece of history and take all the time you need to appreciate the grandeur of the enclave. It almost seems like we can still hear the cries of our ancestors warning us of the Roman invasions. Beside the forts, in an enclave surrounded by nature, we come upon the Centro Arqueológico do Barbanza (O Barbanza Archaeological Centre) where we'll find a lot of information on the archaeological heritage of the region. 

It's time to get to know the town of Rianxo. We'll make a small detour on our way there and take a walk round the promenade on the shore and its port, with views of the great Serra do Barbanza. Take advantage of this stop along the way to sample some delicious Rianxo "xoubiñas" (little sardines) or some good mussels from the Arousa estuary, while you regain enough strength to continue on your journey.

Continuing on in the municipality of Rianxo – specifically, in the village of Araño – our curiosity about its hidden architectural gems will be satisfied with a construction that is newer than those we've visited so far. This is the granery of Araño – one of the largest in Galicia –, part of a remarkable architectural ensemble comprising the church of Santa Baia and the chapel dedicated to Nosa Señora dos Milagres (Our Lady of Miracles). This time, you won't be able to count the granary's feet because the base is enclosed by a wall. The alternative is to walk its 37-metre length and imagine all that that could have been stored inside it in the seventeenth century, when it was built. Many have pointed out that it was an example of the Church's actual power during that century, as the harvest of the people – who had to give a part of it of the clergy –  was stored here.

Continuing on the path of our ancestors, our next stop will be the granaries of Imo, in the municipality of Dodro. The gourd-shaped structures of the picturesque village of Imo are located at the highest part of its centre. This place was once a communal threshing floor. As you approach among the small houses separated by narrow streets, you'll see the complex of granaries made of wooden walls and stone.

The town of Catoira awaits us just across the River Ulla. On the way, we'll find the famous bridge over the river with the Torres de Oeste (Western Towers), where the Romaría Viquinga (Viking Pilgrimage) is celebrated the first Sunday of August, bringing international fame to this village. Each year, thousands of people pack this space to witness the landing. Aboard a draka, sporting horned helmets, the new Vikings act out the attack made the Nordic peoples over a millennium ago.  

But Catoira is also known for its windmills in Abalo, unique in Europe with its double blade system. You'll reach the windmills after a short uphill hike among small shrubs. From the summit, you'll feel the same breeze that moves the blades while you take in one of the best views of the estuary. Sit down next to the thick stone walls – willing to share with you the heat accumulated during the day – and drink in the sight of the sunset as the grand finale of the first day.

Day 2

Our journey continues on to the town of Cambados, which hosts the oldest wine festival in Galicia. This festival began in 1953 as the result of a meeting by several friends who wanted to choose which of their albariños was the best. Before discovering the mysteries of Bacchus, we'll visit the Museo do Muíño de Mareas da Seca (Seca Tidemill Museum) right in the Arousa estuary, between the tips of Tragove and Fefiñáns. This mill's system is very different to the one we've seen so far, as it takes advantage of the movement of the tides for grinding.

During the three hours of low tide, up to 200 kilograms of flour were ground in two shifts, day and night. They say that this mill was built in the seventeenth century at the best of the lord of the Manor of Fefiñáns, to which belonged until the nineteenth century and to which came the farmworkers of much of O Salnés. The mill began operation in 1622 and continued on until the 1970s, when the last miller retired. You'll have the opportunity to tour the facilities of the museum, which still holds the machinery used for milling. After visiting the museum, which still holds the machinery, you can "walk" on the river. That is to say, on the 50-metre walkway of the dam they call "a Seca" ("the Dry Dam"). This is because at low tide the inside becomes dry and then is filled once again with the rising tide.

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Still in Cambados, next we'll head to the town's highest part. Next to the Miradoiro da Pastora (Shepherdess's Viewpoint), we'll pay a visit the church of Santa Mariña de Dozo – or rather what remains of this beautiful late-fifteenth-century Gothic church built over a Romanesque hermitage. This is a single-nave building criss-crossed by several transverse arches, with side chapels. Currently, the site and its surroundings form a breathtaking cemetery where the church's arches still remain. These buttresses that give the place an air of mystery and theatricality.

Very near the church of Santa Mariña, we'll find the Museo do Viño de Cambados (Cambados Wine Museum) comprising a former rectory and a new building connected by a walkway. Go on inside the museum and get ready to take a tour of history, geography, popular culture and all the ins and outs of the wine with the Rías Baixas Denomination of Origin. Do not forget that the best tribute you can pay to this country is to enjoy its magnificent wines, accompanied by local culinary delight, like a good pie, grilled scallops or delicious Padrón peppers.

After a day of cultural and ethnographic activity, we'll dive right into Nature in the town of Meis, home to the rebuilt mills of Serén. Located on a spectacular site, the best way to discover them is to walk the well-known Ruta da Auga (Water Route). Following the river along the beautifully kept hiking trail and cross wooden bridges that will take you from one to another. Right in the middle of the route, stop to catch your breath in the sculptured ensemble that reconstructs the Aldea Labrega (Farmers' Village). As a kind of summary of the whole trip, before you will appear a selection of Galician architectural symbols: the granary, the laundry, the mills, the oven, the well, crosses and even a small chapel. Don't let the hike – which is a bit intense due to its slope – tire you; when you reach the summit,  you'll enjoy amazing views. Once back, sit down and relax in one of the bars located along the route where you can sample a delicious corn pie.

In the adjoining town of Barro, you'll find another not-to-be-missed gem: the waterfalls of Río Barosa. There is still so much to see, so we'll focus our foray on the mills and their spectacular waterfall. We retake our journey along the bank of the river, among a lush river landscape that filters the last light of day. This time the waterfall will welcome us, along with the first mills. In the first section, the force of the water is impressive; as you ascend, the views will encourage you to continue. Have a seat on one of the wooden benches – strategically placed to so you can get your breath back – while the sound of the nearby water murmuring mixes with the smell of wet earth.

After foray into nature, we'll have a change of scenery and visit another park – this time, less leafy: the Parque Arqueológico de Campo Lameiro (Archaeological Park of Campo Lameiro). This outdoor complex with rock art includes nearly a hundred stones and rocks with petroglyphs of great archaeological and historical value. In these mountains of Campo Lameiro is located one of the largest concentrations – in term of both quality and quantity – of rock carvings. The archaeological area, which we can stroll through and see an exceptional collection of rock art sites – has a landscape very similar to that of its original context, and features a recreation of a small town that represents aspects of the daily lives of our Bronze Age ancestors. For a closer look, visit the Interpretation Centre, which has screening rooms, exhibitions and a library.

Arriba