The geo-destination, Ancares-Courel, contains the municipalities of A Fonsagrada, As Nogais, Baleira, Becerreá, Cervantes, Folgoso do Courel, Navia de Suarna, Negueira de Muñiz, O Incio, Pedrafita do Cebreiro, Ribeira de Piquín, Triacastela and Samos.

The mountain ranges of Os Ancares and O Courel extend through Lugo, on the border with Asturias and León. They are the largest natural area in Galicia. The green reserve. Oak, chestnut, beech and hazelnut trees. A mountain landscape that – due to difficulty in accessing it in the past – has preserved the beauty of the authentic. This is the territory of the wolf, the wild mountain cat, wild boar, roe deer... And the last redoubt of brown bears in Galicia.

Inhabited since ancient times but isolated for centuries, these lands boast landscapes that seem to be from another time, fairy tale villages. Such as O Cebreiro, gateway to the Way of St James in Galicia. In Os Ancares, the "pallozas" – huts with thatched roofs – are still preserved and where until relatively recently people and domestic animals lived together. Fortunately today the pallozas are a museum piece. And a delightful architectural surprise: the Church de Hospital do Incio, the only marble Romanesque church in Spain.

Heritage

Ancares-Courel is home to unique settlements typical of the mountains of Lugo. Examples of the traditional life of these districts are villages such as Froxán in Folgoso do Courel, whose architecture and popular architectural constructions, along with the preservation of their traditions and customs made it a Heritage Element of Cultural Interest . Another ethnographic relic of this area is the village of Seceda – also located in the same municipality – which is a veritable living museum located very close to the Castro da Torre de Sobredo , one of the best-preserved forts in the area whose nature setting transforms it into an ethnographic gem.

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The religious heritage of this land causes wonders made of stone to spring forth among the lush vegetation. In Becerreá, it's a must to visit the Church of Santa María de Penamaior , in O Incio, the parish's Church of San Pedro Fiz do Hospital (the only marble Romanesque church in the Peninsula), in As Nogais, the Church of Santo André , with interesting painted  murals.

Fortified architecture is also represented in the area. Admirable examples of defensive buildings are the Castle-Fortress in Burón (in A Proba de Burón-A Fonsagrada), the Castle of Navia de Suarna or the Tower of Doncos and Fortress of Torés in As Nogais.

The setting of the realm of the Counts of Trastámara, of the Counts of Altamira and also of the Irmandiños Wars, this area in the province of Lugo still conserves a number of mámoas or medorras (burial mounds), including one of the most importantt concentrations of tumuli in the northwest of the Peninsula: the Santa Mariña necropolis , where the municipalities of O Incio, Samos and Sarria meet. Also of significant importance are the burial mounds in the parish of San Salvador in Negueira de Muñiz. The area also contains preserved remains from the Castro and pre-Romanesque periods, such as pallozas (traditional constructions) in O Piornedo and in O Cebreiro (some of these latter converted into ethnographic museums), and the beautiful Church of Santa María A Real do Cebreiro , the oldest pre-Romanesque church on the French Way, as well as heritage elements from the period of Romanisation.

The Alto do Cebreiro is the entry point of the Way of St. James into Galicia and the Chalice of the Miracle of O Cebreiro (which is preserved in the shrine and is linked to the legend of the Holy Grail). The French Way continues on its way from O Cebreiro to Triacastela, but the route will not leave this geodestination until it has revealed one of its most precious treasures, the Benedictine monastery in Samos , considered one of the oldest in the West and the unique Chapel del Salvador also known as the Chapel of the Cypress because of the 1000-year-old cypress tree standing its sides.  
 
Pilgrims on the Primitive Way enter Galicia through the Porto do Acevedo in A Fonsagrada. Tradition says that the place name ' Fonsagrada ' (which means 'sacred spring') his its origins in a fountain in the town linked to a miracle by St. James. Treated hospitably by a poor widow, as a way of thanking her, the Apostle turned the water in a fountain into fresh milk for the woman's children. This is a magical land of legends and tales, of miracles and wonders. El Primitive Way leaves Ancares-Courel in the lands of the municipality of Baleira.

Nature reserves

With respect to the nature reserves in this geodestination – which is in itself nature in its purest state – it should be noted that Ancares-Courel is considered to be a Site of Community Importance in the Natura 2000 network, both for its geological interest as well as due to it being considered Galicia's large green reserve (Os Ancares is also a Special Protection Area for Birds and National Hunting Reserve as well as a Special Protection Area for the Brown Bear).

With respect to the nature reserves in this geodestination – which is in itself nature in its purest state – it should be noted that Ancares-Courel is considered to be a Site of Community Importance in the Natura 2000 network, both for its geological interest as well as due to it being considered Galicia's large green reserve (Os Ancares is also a Special Protection Area for Birds and National Hunting Reserve as well as a Special Protection Area for the Brown Bear). Included in this network of nature reserves are several areas such as the Carballido and A Marronda Forests, the area of Negueira with rugged terrain and beautiful contrasts of nature and the beginnings of the River Cabe. Not to mention the Cruzul-Agüeira area formed by forests of holm oak, oak, and chestnut trees, depending on the altitude.

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There are two Biosphere Reserves in this geodestination. It includes all of the Os Ancares Reserve and the mountains of Navia, Cervantes and Becerreá, and four of its municipalities belong to the Río Eo, Oscos and Terras de Burón Reserve.

The spectacular mountainous nature of the Ancares-Courel geodestination is part of the hidden treasures Galicia is hiding to be discovered by curious travellers. No one better than the poet Uxío Novoneyra to draw with words that which is his homeland:

Courel dos tesos cumes que ollan de lonxe!
Eiquí síntese ben o pouco que é un home...

 
"Courel of the high peaks that look on from afar!
Here how little a man is can be clearly felt...
"

Festivals and gastronomy

Among the folk traditions of this land, one of the most notable is the Filandón de Músicas do Courel, which is an official Galician Tourist Event.

And among the local culinary traditions – besides the exquisite mountain-style cuisine –  one that stands out is the new brand new Protected Designation of Origin of the Queixo do Cebreiro, cheese of the highest quality made from cow's milk, all natural and with no preservatives or additives.

HIGHLIGHT: "Pallozas" and forests

Located at 1,200 metres above sea level, the village of Piornedo, in the midst of the Serra dos Ancares, is one of the ethnographic treasures of this geodestination. The ancient appearance of the fourteen stone pallozas with plant-based roofs takes visitors back to pre-Roman Galicia, revealing to them that which is most authentic of Galicia and the best preserved village of that long-ago time.

Nature also remains intact in these lands. The Devesa da Rogueira is the ecological jewel of the Serra do Courel, with 30 square kilometres of old-growth forest and an impressive diversity of trees. Landscapes such as those of the Avesedo de Donís and the Cabana Vella holly forest in Os Ancares are characterised by their high biodiversity.

Arriba