Despite its name of "Costa da Morte" (Coast of Death) this section of the Galician coastline offers lessons on life, history and tradition in every village we visit.

Blessed by its share of lush nature, the Costa Verdescente (Verdant Coast) of Eduardo Pondal invites you to surrender yourself to its charms.

My mother thinks I'm /  fishing in the oak grove; / I'm in San Fins do Castro / dancing a muñeira. / My mother, because she could, / built a house on the island, / to see how the people from Neaño / fish for sardines. / The priest in Corme is a tailor / a native of Malpica de Arba and a sailor. / The priest from Paxos is a ploughman / and the one from Cesullas is a piper. 
     Bagpipe-accompanied song sung en Cabana de Bergantiños

Other information of interest:
- Muíño do Forno do Forte: 981 711 520 www.concellomalpica.com/fornodoforte
- Interpretation Center of Dolmen de Dombate: Teléfono de atención a visitantes > 669 611 993.
- Torres do Allo: 981 706 028.
- Batáns de Mosquetín: 981 706 028.

 

Day 1

We'll begin our first foray into the lands of the Costa da Morte in the Bergantiños orchard, as the Refuxio de Verdes is known, in the town of Coristanco.

Even the voluptuous trees freely invade everything with their vine-covered branches, and the rocks scattered along the River Anllón interfere with the continuous flow of water, creating rapids, waterfalls and pools at will.

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But this former fishing preserve hides some secrets you'll be able to discover only if you hike the leaf-blanketed trails. Verdes is, without a doubt, a great place to relax and disconnect that allows us to spend an enjoyable day of swimming, as long as we are careful with the strong current in the river known as the “Pozo do Inferno" (Well from Hell).

We'll leave behind this little piece of paradise and head off to Malpica de Bergantiños, specifically the Ecomuseo Muíño de Forno do Forte (Muíño de Forno do Forte Ecomuseum) in Buño. This aim of this ethnographic complex is to show what life was like for the day labourers who combined their daily work in the fields with the production of pottery. According to linguists, the name of this town derives from the Latin buda, a kind of free-growing rush that grows in clay-rich soils like those found here. The abundance of this raw material was essential for the development of its most characteristic industry – pottery – which brought Buño international recognition. During the Mostra de Olaría, held in mid-August, you'll have the opportunity to see the old community kiln working.

Following the course of the River Anllóns, we arrive at Cabana de Bergantiños, where you can hike a rather gentle and well-marked trail through the Rego dos Muíños, or do Roncaduiro. It was precisely the roar of the water descending from waterfall to waterfall that triggered the construction the 24 mills that are preserved here and gave its name to this brook. With this sound still ringing in our ears, we finally reach the fortified pre-Roman Iron Age village in Borneiro known as A Cibdá ("the City" in Old Spanish) which was inhabited between the sixth century BC and the first century AD. In the Castle of Santo Antón (Castle of Saint Anthony) in A Coruña you can visit most of the remains found here. The hillfort is surrounded by a moat and two defensive walls along its perimeter, except for the eastern side, where the slope itself acts as a natural defence. From here, you can observe – just as its inhabitants used to – all of the surrounding territory.

Still in Cabana de Bergantiños, we leave A Cibdá to pay a visit to the "cathedral of Galician megalithic" the Dombate dolmen and its interpretation centre. This approximately 6,000-year-old funerary monument consists of a mass of earth partially covered by a stony shell with horizontal flat stones on the outside, while the inside has been constructed of closely fitted stones.

After this immersion in megalithic culture, next we head to Zas to visit the Torres do Allo. The shadow of the narrow, oak-lined road seems to create a time warp tunnel that transports us straight to the manor house, one of the oldest in Galicia. This building – one of the best examples of Galician civil architecture – now houses the Centro de Interpretación dos Recursos Turísticos e Patrimoniais do Territorio de Costa da Morte (Interpretation Centre for Tourist and Heritage Resources of the Territory of the Costa da Morte). Of a clearly Renaissance style, the most interesting architectural motifs are found at the top of the towers, round the windows, which are decorated with late Gothic elements.

In August, Zas becomes the folk music capital as it hosts a long-running festival in the "carballeira" (oak grove) which gives its name to this celebration.

To end the day, nothing beats a good "caldeirada" (stew) made of skate, conger eel or pollack, a dish that you simply cannot pass up all along the Costa da Morte.

Day 2

From Zas we head off to Vimianzo to discover another megalithic marvel: the dolmen de Pedra Cuberta (Rock Cover dolmen). This is the only anta-cap in Galicia with pictorial remains. It was discovered by the German archaeologists Georg and Vera Leisner in the 1930s, which brought it international fame. It has black and red paintings on a white background with wavy and serpentine motifs, the figure of an idol and a decorated plinth. These representations have been described as being among the most important of European megalithic art. Pedra Cuberta is large, with an entrance corridor measuring more than six metres long and with a height of nearly two metres.

In Vimianzo, you can also visit the batáns de Mosquetín. This is an ethnographic museum consisting of two buildings that house the peculiar structures of three fulling machines – devices used to scour and thicken wool – and seven mills. Take the opportunity to discover this living hidden secret of Rio Grande. Revel in the sound of water as it flows through the canals, and walk on the numerous rocks, washed and polished by the stream. The trees will provide you with shade while you can almost hear the muffled, rhythmic echo of the wooden mallets that developed an important textile industry in this region. Every Easter and every summer, the nearby Castelo de Vimianzo hosts a Live Crafts Festival that brings back what was, in times past, a source of wealth, among other crafts.

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From Vimianzo we head towards Camariñas and, at the Ponte do Porto, we take the road that leads to Muxía. On the way, we'll come upon the church of Santiago de Cereixo. This small twelfth-century church is one of the most outstanding examples of rural Romanesque architecture on the Costa da Morte. It was a stopping point for pilgrims arriving by sea to the Ponte do Porto, who later went on to Muxía and Santiago de Compostela. Take a close look at its two beautiful porticos. On one of them, you'll find the tympanum with the first Romanesque depiction of the traslatio of the body of St. James in a stone boat. This church has a strong Jacobean air. Some say a road to Compostela began here as well for people who landed at the Port of Cereixo.

Next, we head to the coast to pay a visit to the granary of Ozón, in the town of Muxía. Count the 21 pairs of feet of this giant gourd-shaped eighteenth-century granite construction yourself, before heading to the church of San Xián de Moraime. Upon your arrival, you'll be received by a holy site in which you will find traces of a bright and glorious past. Built in the Middle Ages, the twelfth-century church was integrated into the only historical monastery on the Costa da Morte, long since abandoned. Its portico, with features of the Cathedral of Santiago, is beautiful. Moraime was linked to the priory of San Martiño Pinario de Santiago, which is a testimony to its importance. In the shadow-filled interior that invites meditation, you'll find paintings depicting the seven deadly sins and death. And, if you have a walk round the cemetery, you'll discover the excavations of a Roman-Christian necropolis.

The Muxía Sea is quite close. Back in the village, a magical end to the second day would be a visit to one of the most iconic Marian shrines of the entire Costa da Morte and Galicia: the church da Nosa Señora da Barca. This sober church, built at the behest of the Counts of Monforte, marks the place where the Virgin arrived in a stone boat with the aim of encouraging St. James to continue with his preaching. In this great natural stone atrium overlooking the sea, you can reach out and touch the sacred relics from this appearance: the pedra dos cadrís (stone of the hips), which is identified with the boat; the pedra de abalar (rocking stone) – symbolizing the sail; and the pedra do timón (rudder stone). All of these are magical stones from the ancient boat to which are attributed powers of healing and divination that will work only if certain rituals are followed...

To finish of this half-historical/half-magical journey, don't leave the Costa da Morte without sampling some of its delicious seafood in one of Muxía's restaurants: O Roncudo barnacles or grilled razor clams are just a tasty starter to the variety on offer.

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