About Galicia


title barMap of Galicia

Galicia is situated in the Northwest section of Spain, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Cantabric Sea, Portugal, Asturias (Spain), and Leon (Spain).  Galicia covers an area approximately 11,534 square miles. 

With an average density of 240 inhabitants per square mile, Galicia’s population is very widely spread.  It is more concentrated in coastal areas, especially in the strip formed by Ferrol, La Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, and Vigo where the largest towns have the highest population growth.   It is comprised of four major provinces: La Coruña, Lugo, Orense, and Pontevedra.  It’s capital is Santiago de Compostela in the province of La Coruña.  This city is mostly known for the religious pilgrimage of called Road To Santiago. The region is mainly agricultural; fishing and timber.

History TitleHistory

Megalithic culture

This was the first great culture to appear in Galicia. From this era there remain thousands of mámoas or medorras (a type of tomb or sepulchre) throughout the entire territory.

The Bronze Age

This was the time when great developments in metallurgy were being achieved as a result of intense mining activity that started way before.

Celtic Influence

The Celts brought new varieties of livestock such as the tamed horse, and probably rye bread.  They brought castros which were described as circular fortified areas, each possessing one or several concentric walls, preceded generally by their corresponding moat (or defensive ditch) and situated, mainly, on the top of hillocks or mountains.

Roman Occupation

The Romans conquered Galicia in order to take advantage of the rich mining resources.With time they were to transform it into a province of the Empire and would recognize its personality, calling it Gallaecia. With their presence, the castros were to lose their defensive worth. They introduced new techniques, new means of communication, new ways of organizing property and their own language, but always showed tolerance of the existing culture.

Language Title BarLanguage

Most of the people in Galicia speak Galician (or “Gallego”), a language related to Portuguese.  However, Castilian is still spoken by everyone.  During the time of General Franco (dictator that ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975) “Gallego” was a dialect and you would find it difficult to find anything written in the language, since Franco (Galician born) did not approve of the language; he wanted people to speak castilian.

In several different areas in this Autonomous Community, there are many variations that contribute to enrich this language. In 1981 it officially became a language.  Currently there is a push to have it be the main language throughout Galicia. Now legal documents, signs, books, and websites are done mostly in “Gallego”.

Galician PeopleGalicians

Rey Cela           Fernando Rey               Camilo Jose Cela
           Born A Coruña, Galicia    Born Padron, Galicia

           Paulina Rubio          Julio Iglesias
           Father Galician          Father Galician

Sheen and Garcia           Martin Sheen          Jerry Garcia
           Father Galician          Father Galician

Climate Title BarClimate

The climate of Galicia is tempered, specially in winter, with minimal temperatures of about 40 degrees F, and rainy. During the summer season, maximum temperatures are around 20 degrees C. At the area of Rias Altas you will find magnificent beaches, impressive towns and beautiful fishing villages. Rías Baixas are worth a visit for their natural preserves . The inland shows green landscapes and romantic villages.

The locals have a saying that Galicia has four seasons: fall, winter, train, and bus.  The English translation does not make sense until you realize that season is “estacion” and that is also the same word for stations.  This statement means that they rarely see the sun and are mostly inundated with rain year around.  Snow occurs on rare occasions.

ArtArt

Dance & Music

Galicia is famous for its folk dance groups, which are accompanied by the skirl of Galician bagpipes (gaitas). Various vocal and instrumental groups (some even cranking medieval hurdy-gurdies) sing and play popular Galician music. Thriving groups of artisans produce works in silver and gold, ceramics, fine porcelain, jet (azabache), lace, wood, and stone.

Ceramics

One of the most popular ceramics in Galicia are called Sargadelos.  They are porcelain dinnerware in a variety of styles and designs. All pieces are handcrafted with contemporary and traditional designs.  The patterns are varied with few colors namely blue, red and white.  They can be seen in different regions throughout Galicia.

Museum of Galician People

One of the best places to see Galician art and learn more about their culture is the Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of Galician People) in Santiago de Compostela. The pieces on display help us understand the different aspects which define Galician culture. It has different rooms dedicated to the sea, trades, the land, clothes, music, the living environment and architecture. It also possesses two sections dedicated to archaeology, and painting and sculpture.