Noia-Castro Baroña-Dunas Corrubedo-Curota-Pobra do Caramiñal-Padrón
The district of Barbanza is a land of strong contrasts divided by the Sierra de O Barbanza mountain range, an enormous granite hulk that dives into the sea separating the Rías Baixas of Muros-Noia from that of Arousa. Within a relatively small area, its natural environment includes landscapes, natural features and archaeological sites of the greatest importance.
The landscape, with the untamed beauty of its features and hills which are like privileged balconies over the Rías Baixas, opens up to extensive white sandbanks and lagoons on the coast. One of the most remarkable features here is the dune complex of Corrubedo, which includes the lagoons of Carregal and Vixán. The area is also rich in megalithic and prehistoric monuments such as the spectacular Castro de Baroña, as well as in fishing villages with a past reaching back to the Middle Ages. In the Sierra de O Barbanza, thousands of horses and cows live in complete freedom, in touch with nature, among hills swept by the wind from the sea.
This is the same scenery featured in the film ‘The Sea Inside’, which won the 2005 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, by the director Alejandro Amenábar. It is based on the true story of Ramón Sampedro, who was paralysed from the neck down during 28 years after an accident among the extraordinary rocky cavities on As Furnas beach.
Ría de Muros and Noia
Granite rocks define most of the natural landscapes of this ría, as can be well appreciated in the cliff-covered shores of the peninsula where the Castro de Baroña stands, on the ría’s southern bank, and in Monte Louro on the northern bank, one of the most beautiful mountains in Galicia, a mountain which towers over the transparent waters and large sandbanks of the ría, seeming to protect them.
Ría of Arousa
The largest of the Rías Baixas is limited to the north by the abrupt Sierra de O Barbanza, while its southern bank is bordered by the softer profile of the Salnés peninsula. It is sprinkled with many islands and small rocky isles of extraordinary beauty, among which we can mention Sálvora island at its entrance from the sea, Arousa in its central section and Cortegada deeper within it, almost where the Ulla river meets the sea.
This ría has a winding contour with many bays, coves and small penínsulas, a favorable setting for the rosary of fishing villages all around it. The width of the ría made of it a route open to commerce since the most ancient of times, but also invited the invasions of both Norsemen and Arabs, to whose presence the defensive towers bear witness, the Torres del Oeste, in Catoira. According to legend, the boat transporting the remains of the Apostle Saint James sailed up this ría and through it reached the town of Padrón, located at its apex.
Located well within the ría of Muros and Noia, this town is important in Galician history, and still retains an interesting old town of medieval origin. Two of the town’s temples figure among the most relevant in Galician architecture: Santa María la Nueva (14th century), which contains interesting guild-related headstones with inscriptions, and San Martiño (15th century). Also important is San Francisco, and as for relevant urban environments, the Rúa do Curro, with the house containing the Grammar School.
The Baroña Castro
‘Castro’ (akin to the English ‘Chester’) is the name of a certain form of settlement, one characteristically defended by parapets and ditches, which became common in the northwest of the Iberian Península, and particularly in Galicia, from the Iron Age until well into the times of Roman occupation. The dwellings most commonly related to castros are of a typical circular shape, similar to the famous pallozas.
The Baroña Castro is spectacular for the way it juts into the sea. Situated on a peninsula connected to the mainland only by a small sandy isthmus, its location and its good state of preservation make of it one of the most beautiful and striking witnesses of the so-called castrexa culture. The Castro has been declared National Artistic Patrimony.
The Axeitos Dolmen
The Axeitos Dolmen, popularly known as Pedra do Mouro (‘the Moor’s Stone’) has existed for 4.000 years. It was a monument of a funerary nature, as were all the megalithic monuments of its kind. The dolmen was hidden under a mound of earth and had an entrance hall, now disappeared, oriented towards the rising sun.
The Corrubedo Dunes
The giant moving dune of Corrubedo beach, constituted by a number of dunes which are being constantly remodeled by the wind, is unique among the coasts of Spain for its size – it is 2,5 km long and can reach a height of 15 m- and for its being accompanied by two lagoons: one sweet water lagoon (Vixán) and a salt water lagoon the other (Carregal), which constitute a marsh area of great environmental interest. (Next to the nearby beach of O Vilar, there is an interpretation center that offers abundant information on this protected natural environment).
Santa Uxía de Ribeira, an outstandingly enterprising town thanks to the importance of its fishing port, still preserves some remains of the old fishing town that it used to be.
At a height of 368 m over the sea level, Curotiña peak is the best place to have an almost aerial perspective of the Rías Baixas and, on clear days, even of Portugal. From there, one can admire the characteristic serenity of the rías while at our feet ships, bateas (floating wooden platforms from which mussels are farmed) and whole fishing villages appear as figures of a huge scale model. Grazing here and there, the wild horses of the Barbanza are the true lords of the landscape.
A Pobra do Caramiñal
An aristocratic town that resulted from the union of two previously existing ones, the names of which have both survived in its present name. It boasts emblazoned houses and castles such as the Torres de A Xunqueira. Over this town hangs the shadow of Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936), a Galician and one of the most distinguished authors ever to have written in Spain –the author of works such as Tirano Banderas, the Sonatas, Luces de Bohemia or Divinas Palabras- his museum is to be found here. A Pobra is very quaint, especially its Alameda park, the pride of its inhabitants.
Padrón is the first place name that appears in Galicia’s most important legend, the Jacobean legend, since that is where the boat carrying the Apostle James´ remains arrived. In Padrón’s old town, it is worth visiting –apart from its ‘rúas’ or streets- the ‘Pedrón’ -large stone- that is mentioned in the legend, the Convent of El Carmen, with a viewpoint overlooking the town, and the house of the Romantic poetess Rosalía de Castro. The route is marked by two rivers, the Sar and the Ulla, and by its pleasant and productive ‘vegas’ or meadows, where the famous ‘Padrón’ peppers are cultivated.