Throughout this journey along the northern part of the estuary of Arousa, we will discover incredible magical and spiritual places. Many were the birth place of great Galician literary figures. Following the trail of the Apostle Saint James, we will reach these lands with the urge to become imbued with literature, legends and miracles.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
when she walks along the shores
barefoot on the sand
she looks like a woman from Rianxo.

Gentle waves roll
to and fro
don't go on board, woman from Rianxo
or you will get seasick.
   Fragment from the popular song A Rianxeira

Dates of the religious pilgrimages:
- Santiaguiño do Monte: 25th July.
- Nosa Señora de Guadalupe: Sunday after 8th September.
- Divino Nazareno: Third Sunday of September.

Other important information:
- Fundación Camilo José Cela: Contact: 981 812 424/5. (www.fundacioncela.com).
- Casa-Museo Rosalía de Castro: Cierra los lunes. Contacto: 981 811 204. (www.rosaliadecastro.org).     
- Centro Arqueolóxico do Barbanza: Opens from Thursday to Sunday. Contact: 981 843 810. (www.centroarqueoloxicodobarbanza.org).
- Museo Valle-Inclán: Closes on Mondays. Contact: 981 831 662 (www.apobra.org/es/turismo/museovalle-inclan ).

 

Day 1

We begin the first day of this itinerary at the santuary of Escravitude, an 18th century church visited by many who are drawn by the miraculous waters of its fountain. The church stands, majestic and imposing, by the main street. Once there, don't miss the opportunity of drinking from the spring, or of entering to see the Baroque altarpiece, or of taking a stroll through the woods behind the sanctuary. Then get ready to leave for Padrón, the place where, according to the tradition, the remains of the Apostle St. James arrived.

 

Near Padrón it is worth going up to visit the chapel of Santiaguiño do Monte. The path and stairs that lead to the church crosses lush vegetation that lends a magical aura to the setting that the legends describe as the last place where the saint preached to the pagans before returning to Palestine. After years of unsuccessful preaching, the Virgin Mary appeared to him at this very place to encourage him. The rocks and the fountain that are preserved here are considered miraculous by their devotees, because it was Saint James himself who made the water flow by beating the rocks with his staff, after one pagan questioned the power of God. On the days of religious pilgrimage, it was customary to climb the steps and rocks one one's knees and pass through the two holes that should be crossed in one's lifetime, or after death. If you are not out of breath, you should try it. 

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Moreover, Padrón also offers us the opportunity of discovering two of the essential figures of Galician literature, such as the Nobel Literature Prize (1989) Camilo José Cela, who has a foundation near the coleggiate church of Iria Flavia, and the illustrious poetess of the Galician Rexurdimento (19th century period of Galician revival and revitalisation, especially of the language), Rosalía de Castro, who spent the final years of her life at the Casa da Matanza. This stone manor house, today a house-museum, still preserves the bench where the she sat to write or waited for inspiration to arrive. It was after her death when the beautiful camellias were planted, among which there is a variety with the poetess' name, and that can be seen in full bloom in the Spring.

After leaving Padrón, don't miss the opportunity of taking a walk along the Espolón (breakwater) by the river Sar, which leads us to the parish church of Santiago. Inside is the famous “pedrón” (rock) where the Apostle's boat moored. And, of course, do not leave without tasting the famous green peppers that have given the town worldwide fame, and that, as they say around here after each helping, “uns pican e outros non” (some are spicy and others are not).

Continuing southwest, following the literary path, we reach the fishing village of Rianxo, land of other illustrious Galician writers such as Castelao, Rafael Dieste and the one known as the “poet of the seaManuel Antonio. In the main square, or Praza Maior de Rianxo, the 17th century sanctuary of Nosa Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) awaits us, affectionately nicknamed by the people of Rianxo as the “Virxe Moreniña” (Dark Virgin). This Virgin is the main figure of one of the major festivities of the region held early in September. At that time, covered in flower petals, A Moreniña is taken on a marine procession accompanied by the whole fleet along the inlet of Rianxo. As a grand finale to the festivities, the most vibrant moment is yet to come, when, at dusk, the town is only illuminated by the thousands of sparklers carried by locals and visitors. Immersed in this magical atmosphere, it is impossible not to be overcome by emotion when singing over and over again the popular song “Rianxeira” (a Rianxeira is a woman from Rianxo who works in the sea).

Without a doubt, the best way to end this day is to taste some savoury sardines from Rianxo or mussels from the estuary of Arousa at one of the local taverns, with the backdrop of the setting sun and the interesting stories told by seamen.

Day 2

On the second day of our journey, still humming “Ondiñas veñen, ondiñas veñen, ondiñas veñen e van” (gentle waves roll to and fro), we continue towards Boiro and make our first stop at the archaeological site of Castros de Neixón (Iron Age settlements). Located on a small peninsula, at the end of the estuary of Arousa, this is one of the most important sites in northwest mainland Spain. Walk around the small peninsula and enjoy the spectacle that nature and the estuary have in store. From here you have a spectacular view, both of the estuary as of the fishing village of Rianxo. Near the settlements you will find the Archaeological Centre of O Barbanza Archaelogical Centre of Barbanza where you can find out a little bit more about the traces left by the first inhabitants in these lands.

We continue our route along the coast towards A Pobra do Caramiñal. There we find the image of the Divino Nazareno (Divine Nazarene), at the church of Santiago do Deán. The religious pilgirmage of Nazarene, or of As Mortallas (of the shrouds), on the third Sunday of September, is a procession that has been celebrated since the 15th century. Thousands of devotees participate with great fervour accompanying the procession of empty coffins that lead the devotees who survived a near-death experience thanks to the intervention of the Nazarene. The family members of the offered person, wearing a purple habit, carry the coffin and large candles with wax votive offerings tied to them. This is an amazing image, even for the most sceptical, where one can see how life prevails over death. If you are not able to make it on the days of religious pilgrimage, you should still visit the church, at the hour of evening mass. In addition to lighting a candle for the Nazarene so that he will hear your petitions, make sure you visit the capela da Alba  (chapel of Dawn), one of the oldest in the church and important because seamen went there to listen to mass when returning from sea, for they returned at dawn, and that is the reason for its name.

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The best way to continue our visit is to take a walk through the centre of the town: seeing its jetties, where vessels rest until the next long fishing day, crossing its lovely promenade, or even enjoying a snack at one of the sidewalk cafés could make you stop longer than you intended, but don't miss the opportunity of experiencing or living this quiet seaside town.

We lengthen our walk to the tower of Bermúdez, that houses the Museum of Valle-Inclán, to continue with the magical-literary theme. Good proof of this is the fact that the religiousus pilgrimage of the Nazareno was already attended by the writer known as the father of the esperpento (Theatre of the Grotesque), Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, who lived in the town for several years. The Renaissance-style building is another of the symbols of A Pobra do Caramiñal. There you may enter the always unusual atmosphere of Valle-Inclán, see the various personal objects that belonged to the writer, as well as the impeccable first editions of his works, many of them written or set in the town, such as Sonata de Otoño or Divinas Palabras.

The perfect end for this itinerary is to climb up to the observation point of A Curotiña. When you take the access road, don't miss the stone cross of Moldes. There the Virgin Mary, with her back to the stormy sea, bears witness to the legend that says that long ago, nearby there was a prosperous town known as Valverde and of how the greed of its inhabitants caused a terrible curse to fall on them. According to the legend, when the Virgin Mary shed a tear because of their bad behaviour, the wind began to blow with such force that it swept everything in its path until the town was buried under a colossal mountain of sand. This is the place that today is known as the dunes of Corrubedo, which forms part of one of the most spectacular natural areas of northwest mainland Spain, the Natural Park formed by the Dunes of Corrubedo and the Lagoons of Carregal and Vixán.

At the summit, surrounded by wild horses and vegetation that is typical of these heights, while leaning on the stone railing, our eyes rest on the horizon of the powerful Atlantic Ocean. If it is a clear day, you can see Fisterra and even the Cíes Islands. The climb to A Curotiña is worthwhile, even if it is towards the end of the day, to enjoy the colours of the sunset reflected on the calm waters of the estuary of Arousa.

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