The Costa da Morte stretches over tens of kilometres along the north-western coast of Galicia within the province of A Coruña. On this coast, we find deserted beaches, coves and cliffs. Its capes, such as those of Fisterra, Touriñán and Vilán, jut out into a wild ocean of constantly choppy waters.

All of this creates an unmistakable landscape, which is the area's identifying mark.

Its villages invite quiet walks with time to sit and watch the men and women who live off the sea as they carry out their daily tasks. It is a land of mystery, of legends and myths. Its beautiful scenery and cultural interest make it a unique area that holds a special charm for visitors.

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Due to its high ecological value, this part of Galicia contains two Sites of Community Importance (almost the entire "A Costa da Morte" and the River Anllóns), a Specially Protected Birdlife Reserve (Sisargas Islands) and a Protected Landscape (Penedos de Pasarela e Traba). Inland, the land forms gentle hills, carpeted with fields of corn, pastures and forests.

The character of the Coast of Death has been marked by the fact that it constitutes Europe's western frontier. Since ancient times, humans have believed this place to be Finisterrae – the end of the world – the gate to the afterlife. After their arrival, the Romans witnessed and described the spectacle offered by the sun sinking into the Atlantic Ocean, a scene that has stayed in the collective imagination of ancient civilisations from way back in history.

It is one of the European areas with the largest wealth of megalithic remains. A visit to the Dombate Dolmen or the Borneiro Castro (Celtic settlement), both sites of great value, will take us back thousands of years in time and give us some idea of the life our ancestors led. With the arrival of Christianity, many of the sacred places of the first settlers of these lands adapted to the new beliefs.

Even in the religious ceremonies of today one can still perceive traces of an ancestral pantheism and paganism. At the Shrine of the Virxe da Barca (Virgin of the Boat), thousands of devotees gather every year to participate in one of the most important pilgrimages in Galicia.

A large portion of the North Atlantic maritime traffic passes in front of these coasts. Taking into account the jagged coastline and the numerous storms that the area suffers during the winter months, it is not surprising that the Costa da Morte was the scene of a great many shipwrecks and all along the coast crosses have been placed in memory of the victims.   The "Cemiterio de los Ingleses" (English Cemetery) is thus named in memory of the many who drowned when the English ship, the Serpent, went down in 1880.

The lifestyle of the inhabitants of the Costa da Morte is closely linked to the sea. Their economy is based on fishing and shellfishing. One of the most representative images in this area is that of the "percebeiros", barnacle collectors who jump from rock to rock as they dodge the incoming waves. Logically, these villages' gastronomy takes advantage of the great quality and variety of fish and seafood available here.

On the "Costa da Morte" the traditions of its old trades and crafts are still maintained today. Bobbin lace, particularly that from Camariñas, as well as from other towns, received international recognition. Moreover, Buño has been famous for centuries for its important pottery industry.

Route

We propose a route that is low in difficulty. With the help of a vehicle, we walk short distances that are suitable for all ages and ideal for families. It takes approximately three days. The time distribution should be taken just as an example, as it can be varied according to individual preference.

Day 1

The itinerary for the first day begins at Buño, a town renowned for its pottery.  Visitors should not miss the opportunity to acquire a piece of pottery. The sales shops are usually set up in the workshops themselves, so that we will be able to watch as the potters of Buño create the pieces.

We leave Buño in the direction of Malpica. The journey – about 9.5 km – will take us but a few minutes. Once at Malpica, the first place to visit is the port, a good place to breathe in the fishing village atmosphere and view the curious make-up of the town. The houses "hang" over the rocks, facing the port and the waters of the Atlantic. After a pleasant stroll around the narrow streets of the old quarter, we can climb up the path to the high part of the town. From there, we will enjoy some lovely views.

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Leaving Malpica, the route continues towards Cape San Adrián, situated only four km away. Close by we will find the Shrine to San Adrián do Mar (Saint Adrian of the Sea). Each June, a devout pilgrimage is held here. Innumerable pilgrims come to request favours from the Saint or to give thanks for favours received. The shrine constitutes a privileged natural viewpoint over Malpica and the Sisargas Islands, which lie directly off Cape San Adrián.

From there, we return to Malpica and continue on to Ponteceso, which is 13.2 km away. We take a local road that goes through the towns of Beo, Mens, Cores and Nemeño. We should stop off at Mens to see the ancient castle of the same name. The Towers of Mens, which is the name of the fortress, were built in the 14th century and restored, conserving much of its original structure. The castle is visible from the road; visits by the public are not allowed, as it is private property. The 12th-century Romanesque church of Santiago, next to the tower, can be visited. It is best to confirm the opening hours and availability by calling 981 714 588.

Minutes later we Ponteceso, birthplace of the great writer Eduardo Pondal Galicia, one of the key characters "Rexurdimento" (rebirth of culture and literature during the nineteenth century Galician). As we walk through its streets and parks we will see several tokens of Ponteceso's gratitude towards its most illustrious son. Outside the city centre we can go up Mount Branco, the region's most emblematic geographical feature. If we take the road that goes to Balarés beach, whichis quite beautiful beach and just a few kilometres away, we will see on the horizon the towns of Corme, Laxe, Cabana and Ponteceso itself. From the heights we can enjoy a spectacular view over the estuary formed by the River Anllóns as it flows into the sea. This natural area provides the habitat for a large variety of species of flora and fauna.

Continuing along the AC-424, without taking the turnoff for Balarés beach, we go towards O Porto de Corme, another of the typical fishing villages in this area. A short distance away, jutting out into the dangerous waters of the Atlantic Ocean, lies Roncudo Point. The barnacles that coat its rocks are considered the best to be found on the entire Galician coast. However, apart from the exceptional harvest they provide, the cliffs of O Roncudo are also renowned for their danger. Many "percebeiros" were killed in this wild place. In memory of these people, many crosses were placed on the rocks over the years.

O Porto de Corme is about eight km from Ponteceso. Before we arrive, on the mountain peak, we can see the monument to the Virxe do Faro (Virgin of the Lighthouse). Here we will obtain an incomparable view of the entire coastline. Very close to the chapel there is a large monument in the form of a lighthouse.

From O Porto de Corme we return to Ponteceso on the same road. From Ponteceso, we travel 8.4 km to the town of Borneiro. Close by, we will find the A Cibdá Castro (Celtic settlement) and the famous Dombate Dolmen, two of Galicia's most valuable archaeological ensembles. The latter is located a few metres from the road, taking a turnoff to the right. Recently, the dolmen was protected with an attractive wood and glass building that helps to better see the monument, along with an interpretation centre for a better understanding of the megaliths on the Costa da Morte.

From Borneiro, a round-trip route takes us to the Torres do Allo, a few miles from Baio, in the hamlet of O Allo. A 17th-century manor house, an interpretation centre and a great opportunity to learn more about the Costa da Morte, on the one hand, and the "pacega" style of life in rural Galicia. Not to mention the Church of San Pedro, a curious cemetery and three magnificent hórroes typical of local construction styles.

Backtracking towards the town of Cabana, we make our way to Laxe. This fishing village has a beautiful beach with serene waters that is perfect for children to have a dip. As regards its cultural heritage, it has a Romanesque church and a chapel built in honour of Saint Rosa of Lima, situated on a mountain peak. Near Laxe, one should visit the beautiful wild beach in Soesto. The distance between Ponteceso and Laxe is 11.5 km along the AC-431 road.

Day 2

The second day of the route begins in Laxe, where we take the road to Ponte do Porto, which lies 27.2 km away.

We return to the road that brought us from Laxe and continue towards Ponte do Porto. Upon reaching this town, we cross the bridge over the River Grande to go to Porto de Cereixo and visit the lovely Cereixo Towers and Santiago Church complex, built in the 12th century.

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Later, we depart in the direction of Camelle, a small town located about 5 km away. The route continues in the direction of Camelle, a village located about 5 km away, where we can see the Mann House-Museum. Manfred was a German who lived for decades in complete harmony with Galician nature. Next to the sea, he set up a collection of sculptures he himself had created from different materials in front of the sea, arranged in all sorts of shapes and painted in as many different colours.

At this point we have two options. The first one is to return to Ponte do Porto and from there head to Camariñas and Cape Vilán. The second is to travel about 18 km along the coast through the village of Arou through a dirt track that will lead us first to Cape Vilán and then to Camariñas. This last option is only advisable if we have the appropriate type of vehicle. An SUV is the recommended option. If we choose the second option, we will be able to visit Trece Cove with the Cementerio de los Ingleses (English Cemetery) and Foxo do Lobo, before reaching Cape Vilán and enjoying some splendid views of the coast.

Whichever route we take, we will stop off at Camariñas. This town is where the prestigious bobbin lace comes from, made by the local "palilleiras" (bobbin lacemakers) for centuries. Apart from the value of the articles themselves, watching how these women skilfully handle the threads and hearing their characteristic sound, is in itself a spectacular sight.

Day 3

To begin our third day on the Costa da Morte, we will depart Camariñas, heading towards Ponte do Porto; from here, and after driving another 9.7 km, we reach will reach Vimianzo. Here, we will be able to see the Vimianzo Castle or Towers.

Our next destination will be Muxía, situated 22.4 km away. To get there we need to take the right-hand turnoff at the town of Berdoias to get onto the AC-440 road. Before reaching Muxía we will pass through the village of Ozón, which is on The Way of St. James. The rectory of the Romanesque church of San Martiño de Ozón has the largest hórreo in the region, only bested in all of Galicia by the ones in Araño, Lira and Carnota.

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Leaving Ozón, we find the Moraime rectory, built on the remains of an ancient monastery, which soon will house a Monument Hotel. Its church is still well preserved and can be visited during the hours of worship.

From here, there are but a few kilometres to the village of Muxía. The most interesting feature to be seen in this town (one could almost say a mandatory visit) is the Shrine to the Virxe da Barca (Virgin of the Boat) and the famous miraculous rocks.

We will return to Berdoias along the AC-440, and from there we will continue for 18.7 km to Corcubión. Here, the San Marcos Parish Church, the Castelo do Cardeal (Cardeal Castle) and the Pazo (manor house) of the Counts of Altamira are well worth a visit.

Leaving Corcubión, and after 11.8 km along the AC-445, we will reach Fisterra. Fisterra has all the magnetism of the mythical places of Antiquity. The inhabitants of Europe considered this place as the point where the known world ended, the gate to the afterlife. The image of the sun as it sets over the Atlantic Ocean and landed equally terrified and fascinated anyone who approached the western end of the continent. Without a doubt, the rocky cliffs that surround Fisterra, in constant battle with the ocean, contributed even more to creating this place's legendary aura. On the Cape, about 3 km from the village, the lighthouse is open to the public. We are in the mythical place where the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago arrived so they could burn their personal belongings.

In this town we will also be able to visit the Sacred Christ of Fisterra, a figure that is kept in the 12th century Santa María das Areas church. We will find the church on the right of the road, just as it starts to climb towards the lighthouse. Access to the inside is from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm, in the summer months, and during worship hours in the winter.

We will also be able to stop at the port of the town and a short stroll to San Carlos Castle. We should also not miss the many beautiful beaches in the area, such as Mar de Fóra, Langosteira, O Rostro, etc.

At Fisterra the route along the Costa da Morte comes to an end.

Arriba