The Romans thought that this was the earth's westernmost point and therefore that the world ended here. It was the finisterrae, or land's end. Why would someone want to go to the end of the world?

 

Perhaps it is because the Cabo Fisterra cape hides the true secret of the Costa da Morte: wild rough landscapes and amazing beaches, some (protected by the cape) with calm waters and others with strong waves like that of Mar de Fóra, one of Galicia's wildest beaches. And the greatest attraction of all times: the sunset over the enormity of the ocean, the sea of the end of the world.

Either out of curiosity or to live an adventure, the Cabo Fisterra cape has been a magnet since ancient times, attracting travellers from distant countries and, with less luck, the many ships that shipwrecked in its waters.

Today, with its powerful lighthouse, Cabo Fisterra still has a special attraction for Way of St. James pilgrims, whose journey does not end until they get here. There must be a reason.

Cape Fisterra

For centuries it marked the end of known land,
the gates to the Afterlife, that is, the End of the World.

The rock-bound peninsula rises up from the feared small islands of O Petonciño and A Centola to the O Facho (242 m) mountain, location of the Ara Solis of antiquity where rites in honour of the sun were carried out.  Traditionally, it is regarded as the continent’s most western point, although strictly speaking this is not so. The Way of Saint James extends to here, where, according to tradition, pilgrims burnt their clothes on the seashore before beginning their homeward journey.

The most visited point is the lighthouse lookout point where the light at dusk irradiates the horizon.

Since the beginning of time Fisterra has evoked a profound sense of mystery in the souls of mankind. The roots of the legendary aura of this site, open to the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean, can be found in the mythology of the first European inhabitants. They believed that, after death, the earthly life was replaced by another existence on an island situated to the west, where the sun set. In Celtic legends it is frequent to find images of heroes making their final journey to this paradise in a stone vessel. This merging of stone, sea and spiritual life is still present in different forms along the Costa da Morte.

When the Romans came, they contemplated, for the first time, the imposing spectacle of the sun disappearing into the ocean waters. They found an altar dedicated to the Sun, the Ara Solis, built by Celtic tribes in the area. Various sources see a direct parallelism between the image of the sun setting into the sea and the host and chalice on Galicia's coat of arms. Today there is still a square in the village that carries the name Ara Solis.

Before the arrival of Christianity, the Europeans already treated Fisterra as a mandatory place of pilgrimage. However, it was following the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle when the western Atlantic route reached its maximum splendour. The Road to Santiago, guided by the stars of the Milky Way, finishes here, in front of the Ocean. Thus, the visitor who looks out from this promontory will not only contemplate the beauty of the magnificent views, but will also be participating in a myth that has both terrified and drawn mankind for thousands of years.

The lighthouse is reached through a small road from the village of Fisterra. On the way we will enjoy impressive views of the coastline and the Corcubión Estuary. Near the lighthouse we can visit the municipal cemetery, an innovative construction designed by architect César Portela. Moving away from traditional concepts, this cemetery is formed by cubic shapes located on the edge of the coast. It is worth continuing the climb up Mount Facho, as on its peak we will find the remains of the shrine dedicated to Saint William. Of particular interest is the place known as "Cama de San Guillermo" (Saint William's Bed), a pit excavated in the rock, about the size of a human body. According to local legend, the women of the area came to this place to beg the Saint for fertility.

Lighthouse at Cape Fisterra

It is probably the most visited in Europe, and the nearest to America.

Built in 1853, 138 above sea level. Considered to be the cape at the end of the world - "Finis Terrae". For thousands of years, it was thought that beyond it there only existed a watery chasm where the sun went out every night, and which led to a region of darkness inhabited by sea monsters.

It is the lighthouse located furthest to the west in Europe, with an octagonal tower, the keeper´s house and a square of homage dedicated to General San Martín, known as Plaza de la República Argentina.

It is said that, on clear days, the line of Portugal can be seen. It is well-known to sailors from all over the world, thanks to its importance as a warning of the proximity of a highly hazardous coastline (its light reaches as far as 65 Km away), and for its renown as treacherous in this sea-going zone.

There are superb panoramic views from here, over the infinity of the ocean and the Corcubión Ria and the Carnota coast, with the granite mountains of O Pindo rising above them.
 

The End of the Road

Its setting as being “the end of the earth”, is also an incentive to set off on the Road to Santiago, since all travelers always want to go that much further, to the end of the road.

History...

Thus the Roman historian Lucius Florus told of how the legionnaires of Rome watched in holy terror as the sun set over the ocean, when it reached the Finis Terrae, in the XII century BC. The Finis Terrae, Finisterre, or Fisterra as it is called in Galicia, became, from that time onwards, an obligatory spot to visit for all those who had taken part in the Saint James Way.

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Route...

If the route from Santiago to Fisterra is made along the coast, the traveler will find a Compostela in miniature in Noia. It was the French archbishop, Berenguel de Landoire, who, after being made to feel unwelcome by the Santiago people, established his residence there, building churches and palaces. At the mouth of the estuary, the rooftops of the fishing village of Muros are grouped together, immediately followed by the open coast towards Fisterra. This is a coastline with wide stretches of sand open to the ocean and high mountains behind them. The most impressive of its elevated and mysterious pink rocky granite crags is Monte Pindo, the Celtic Olympus of the Galicians. And finally, the town of Fisterra, surrounding its central Plaza del Ara Solis, a nostalgic reminder of the altar raised by the Romans to worship the setting sun.

The road leading to the end of the headland starts next to the Romanesque church of Santa María das Areas, where the sculpture of Santo Cristo da Barba Dourada, the source of numerous legends, is preserved. In the highest reaches of the mountain, there was a hermitage and some carved stones that gave the spot a sacred character.

Today a lighthouse guides the incessant parade of ships along one of the busiest maritime stretches in the world. We are now no longer at the end of the world, but at the end of the Road to Santiago. All that remains is to return, to return to Santiago happy and satisfied. Having completed the Road to Santiago is a medal that can always be worn with pride. If you have reached Fisterra, even more so.

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