13.3.09

GALICIA

If you missed it on the home page, here's a link to what George Borrow wrote about Galicia in the 1830s

If you aren't very familiar with Galicia, don't flagellate yourself on this score. Until relatively recently, not many Spaniards knew much about it either. As John Hooper put it in his book The Spaniards, ‘In modern times, Galicia has been among the least-known parts of Western Europe’.

In truth, Galicia is almost nobody's idea of Spain. For a start, it is as green as anything you will find in Britain or Ireland. And just as beautiful. In addition, it has wonderful seafood, great wines and spectacular beaches. Plus fjords, mountains, immense forests, dozens of rivers, awesome valleys and architectural wonders aplenty. Oh yes, and a lot more sun.

Located up in the north west corner of Spain – above Portugal – Galicia is separated from the rest of the country by extensive mountain ranges on all sides. To the south, though, only the river Miño separates it from Portugal. For hundreds of years Galicians looked west for the solutions to their problems - to the New World – rather than to the rest of Spain. In its turn, Spain regarded Galicia as a poor - and not-too-bright - relative and treated it rather shabbily. Until recently, the roads through the mountains were less than adequate and the journey from say, Vigo, to Madrid took 10 to 12 hours. With the opening of the A52 and A6 autopistas, this can now be done in less than 5 hours. Possibly even 4 if you drive at the sort of (illegal) speeds which are quite commonplace on Spanish motorways

So things have now changed and Galicia is an increasingly popular destination for those Spaniards (and a few smart foreigners) who don't want the heat of the Andalucian, Murcian or Valencian summer but do want the scenic beauty and culinary delights in which Galicia abounds. As a result, while Galicia still lags behind the rest of Spain in most things, along the coast at least it has a flourishing economy. Most impressively, this tourism-driven development of the last 15 to 20 years has not turned the coast into a replica of the high-rise concrete hells of other Spanish costas. It is still a place in which you can enjoy Spain at its simplest and its best. And where any foreigners you bump into are likely to be looking for the same things as you – beauty, serenity, culture and good living. Not packed beaches and restaurants which open at 5, close at 7 and serve only local variants of British ‘staples’. If this is what you want, stop reading now; you are wasting your time. Galicia is decidedly not for you.

If, on the other hand, Galicia sounds as if it might be what you are looking for, then read on. If you are reading this because you are interested in looking at property in Galicia, then I refer you back to the introductory paragraph on my home page, which gives contact details for people who may help.

For those with other specific queries, there is a FAQS section at the end of this page. This is being expanded as questions are raised with me. So please don't hesitate to email me if you want to know something that you feel others would like to know as well.

At the end of this section there is a Glossary of words you may come across elsewhere, especially if you read my section on Pontevedra. Some of the words are Gallego versions of place names and common geographical terms. The Spanish equivalent is given to reduce/increase your confusion.

Geography

As already noted, Galicia is Spain's north west corner. Actually, it is Europe's western-most region. West and north it faces the sea. East, it faces the mountains shared with Asturias and Castile y Leon. And south, it faces Portugal. In effect, it is somewhat hemmed in. In large part, this has determined its history and its alienation from the rest of Spain.

Like much of Spain, Galicia had a mountainous interior. Its coastline is perhaps the most spectacular in the peninsula, featuring many fjords and numerous outstanding beaches. For the purists, there are ‘1,200km of winding coastline, 750 beaches and 275km of fine, white sand’.

Politics

Briefly, Galicia is one of Spain's 17 Autonomous Communities. It has four provinces:-

Lugo Capital - Lugo
La Coruña Capital - Santiago de Compostela
Pontevedra  Capital - Pontevedra
Ourense Capital - Ourense

Responsibility for managing the Community is delegated to the Xunta (Junta) of Galicia, which sits in Santiago and, as of June 2005, is run by a Socialist/Nationalist coalition, after 15 years of rule by the PP party under it founder, 'Don' Manuel Fraga. Fraga who was one of Franco’s ministers in his last administration of the early to mid 70s.

Galicia long had the status of a ‘kingdom’ but lost it in the 1830s. In 1936 it was on the verge of getting the same degree of independence as that already granted by the central government to both Catalunia and the Basque Country when the Civil War broke out and put the kibosh on that. It does have a ‘nationalist’ element but this is nowhere near as strong and as active as similar movements in Catalunia and, especially, the Basque Country. Terrorist activities, for example, are unknown. By and large, nationalist policies and gestures were the preserve of local councils but with their arrival in power in June 2005, the Nationalist party [the BNG] have started to make the sort of demands which routinely come out of Catalunia and the Basque Country.

History

An Englishman more famous among Spaniards than Brits – Gerald Brenan – wrote something along the lines (I think) that the history of a people is a history of its land law.

In Spain, the greatest contrast is between the vast estates of Andalucia and the microscopic plots of rural Galicia. The latifundios and the minifundios. Whereas the former are enough to provide owners who never visit them with a lifestyle beyond the imagination, the latter are frequently just about enough to provide a hard-working peasant family with sufficient to live off. Needless to say, there is no place for modern machinery, which would be both difficult and thoroughly uneconomic to use on tiny plots, many of them clinging to the hillside. Ox-drawn carts can still be seen in the interior. As can the circular stone houses which until recently were shared by both humans and animals.

These small plots are the result of constant division and sub-division on death, there being no law of primogeniture in Galicia. They also reflect the inability of landowners to enlarge their holdings by moving north, south, east or west. It's hard to plough in the Atlantic, the Bay of Biscay, barren mountains or a foreign country. As a result – as John Hooper puts it – ‘Galicia’s agriculture is woefully backward. What you see in Galicia today is not far removed from strip-farming in the Middle Ages’.

Galicia has had its fair share of invasions – the Celts around 600BC, the Romans around 50AD, the Visigoths around 400AD, the Normans during the Middle Ages and the French in 1808. Then, of course, she was ‘visited’ from time to time by Francis Drake in the 16th. century. Interestingly, though, the region was largely unaffected by the occupation of Spain by the Moors from the 8th. century onwards. True, the Arabian hordes sacked Santiago de Compostela in 977 but they didn't hang around much after that, perhaps finding the mountains and the winter rains too much to bear. Galicians like to see the Celtic legacy as being the most enduring but spoilsport sceptics insist that this is a 19th century invention of nationalists in search of an identity different from that of any in the rest of Spain. Nonetheless, disregarding the Latin legacy of the language, the cultural message that Galicia now sends out is one of strong Celtic connections. Like Ireland but with sun. As yet, though, the Galicians haven't managed to turn their country into one huge theme park. Or to convince a gullible international public that Galicia is the best place to go to learn Spanish, while savouring the local 'crack'.

Language

In Galicia, more than 80% of the people speak Galician well, though nearly all of them will also speak Castellano (which is what they call Spanish) and may even choose to use it most of the time. Galician is known as Galego in the local language and Gallego in Castellano.

It is a major faux pas to refer to Gallego as a dialect of Spanish since it isn't. It is one of the five Iberian languages into which Latin transmuted itself. The other four are Spanish (Castellano), Catalan, Asturian and Portuguese. In addition, there is, of course, Basque, which bears no relation to either any of these or to Latin. Truth to tell, both Galician and Portuguese developed from the same parent language but began to vary once Portugal become a separate political entity. They now differ considerably, though the people of Galicia and north Portugal can still understand each other reasonably well. Try to avoid getting into discussion of this subject on either side of the border as both the Galicians and the Portuguese fervently believe that their ['original']  language is superior to its sister. The Portuguese adduce in evidence that their language has a past historic tense, whereas Gallego doesn't.

In a nice touch, Franco banned the use of Gallego in public despite having been born in Ferrol in north Galicia. Perhaps he had a repressive father who shouted at him in the local tongue.

It sometimes occurs to me that, when Gallego was codified in the 19th century, all possible steps were taken to differentiate it from Castellano. So, when one language uses ñ, the other doesn't. And vice versa. Camino and camiño are two good examples. As are vino and viño. The best/worst example I have come across is the difference between the Spanish and Galician words for rain - lluvia and choiva. As you can see, all three syllables are different. It's a nice coincidence that a word which is used so often in Galicia should give us the best example of this practice. Most recently the Galician Academy has announced that 'Thank-you' in Galician will no longer be Gracias or Graciñas but a new word, Grazas. So far, this is only heard on TV News programs.

People and Culture

The are 2.7 million people in Galicia and they are widely dispersed. 40% of them live in the major cities and a further 30% live close to these. The rural uplands of Galicia - particularly in Lugo and Ourense provinces - are being slowly depopulated as the people leave the land [see below]. If it takes your fancy, you can buy a whole village up there these days. Though it may only comprise 3 or 4 houses.

The Galicians are well aware that they have a reputation for being not just backward and conservative but also mistrustful, cunning and dishonest. In fact, the word ‘galleguismo’ is used in the rest of Spain to mean ‘ambiguous' or 'crafty'. They are also aware that they are the butt of many jokes, as the Irish are to the English. Of course, the main factor behind all of this has simply been the poverty of Galicia. When Spain itself was still pretty poor in the 1960s, Galicia was even poorer. And now that Spain is up there with the rest of Europe and still motoring, Galicia still seems relatively worse off. Mainly because it is. Things certainly are cheaper here, though there are naturally pockets of great wealth and it is not too hard to find expensive places and things in and on which to spend your surplus cash. If you must.

As for the cunning and the dishonesty, suffice to say that it isn't any more in evidence than it is in any of the other six countries in which I have lived. And I very much doubt that it is greater than in any other part of Spain. Like so much to do with Galicia, it ranks as folklore now.

Galicia is home to numerous myths and superstitions. Its root cause is probably centuries of poverty but who can really say. The mist on the mountains may well have been a factor. Here's a few samples, starting with the two that have brought millions of people to Santiago since the 11th century and led to a vast pilgrimage industry which is now almost as strong as ever.

By about 250BC, the Celts had spread from central Europe to the British Isles in the north and to the Atlantic coast of Iberia in the west. Whatever they left behind in Spain, it didn't include any vocabulary. There is nothing like Gaelic, Welsh or Breton spoken either in Galicia or anywhere else in Spain. Nonetheless the Galicians like to think of themselves as having deep Celtic roots and affinities with Ireland, in particular. In fact, another local myth is that Galicia was ‘colonised’ by settlers from Ireland and Scotland in the 3rd century BC. This, of course, would make the Galicians different from the rest of Spain. Whatever the validity of this belief, there is no gainsaying that the Galicians both love singing rather morbid songs and enjoy listening to bagpipe music. More impressively, they have a long literary tradition in their own language. Indeed, one of their most famous writers was a Nobel Prize winner.

As for superstitions - legends of werewolves persist and witches, goblins and fairies continue to feature in the lives of many. Most visibly, fortune-telling is a widespread activity in Galicia. Its most modern form is TV phone-in programmes which allow gullible souls to see and hear the Tarot cards being read while their phone bills rack up offscreen.

Whether Celtic or not, the Galicians certainly do uphold one Spanish tradition – they throw fiestas whenever they can. During the summer months, there is bound to one somewhere near wherever you are, on whatever day. Many of these have a gastronomic theme and provide an excellent excuse to imbibe, if you are sad enough to need one.

Relevant web sites

Most of these are in Spanish but the ones in English should bring an occasional smile to your face.

 Tur Galicia turgalicia.es
 The Spanish Tourist Office tourspain.es
Galinor galinor.es/galicia
The Galician Xunta/Junta site xunta.es
The Rias Baixas Tourist Organisation riasbaixas.org
Directory/Guide galice.net
Guide of the Costa de la Muerte area costameiga.com
Guide from the Diputation of La Coruna dicoruna.es
Directory/Guide galiciacity.com
Directory/Guide galiciadigital.com
Directory/Guide guiadelmundo.com
Guide from the Pontevedra town council, with English version [in theory] concellopontevedra.es
Guide from the Poio town council, with English version [Ditto] concellodepoio.es
Guide to a coastal town/region on the Morrazo peninsula bueu.com
Comprehensive guide [in Spanish] to Galicia galiciaparaelmundo.com
Information on education, schools plus links spainexchange.com
Galician Radio and TV crtvg.es
Comprehensive tourist guide [in English] about Galicia galiciaguide.com

The site of the Rias Baixas Tourist Organisation is said to have more than 1300 pictures and descriptions of 250 monuments, 194 beaches and 150 fiestas. Plus details of 623 places in which you can stay and 1050 bars, cafés and restaurants. This should be enough for anybody. The information is organised in separate guides for each of 62 municipalities, together with a 'magazine' covering cultural activities. All this is only available only in Spanish but, as I have said elsewhere, you can always ask Google to give you a machine-driven translation. If nothing else, this is good for a few laughs.

The Galician radio and TV channel's site contains - among other things - several live webcams dotted around Galicia, including various tourist spots. You can  navigate this site in English. The camera for Pontevedra is actually situated on a radio mast close to my house in the hills. So the view it gives of the town is similar to the one I have from my sitting room, except that mine is much higher and wider and includes the mountainous backdrop to the city. Not to mention the sky. I should stress that my house is not a tourist spot. Though, if you are female, beautiful, clever and funny, tickets are available on request. OK, pretty will do. Attractive, even.
 

Some bits of Galician history (from Richard Fletcher’s Moorish Spain)

Astonishing though this may seem, the mountainous zone stretching along the Pyrenees and westward through Cantabria into Galicia was probably more densely populated in the tenth century than ever before or since

In 997, the Moors - under Almanzor – sacked the city of Santiago de Compostela and carried off the bells of the church of St James [Sant Iago] to Córdoba. There they remained until the Christian conqueror of Córdoba, king Fernando III of Castile, sent them back to Compostela in 1236.

Slavery was the lot of many Muslims who fell into Christian hands, just as it was of many Christians who fell into Muslim hands. Muslim prisoners-of-war were employed as slave labour on the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the twelfth century.

Some odd facts about Galicia

Some random statistics that may interest someone

FAQS

What can you tell us about flights to Galicia?

Airports:

Your options are:

Santiago: This airport has traditionally been best served by direct flights [Iberia, BA, TAP and others] from, e. g., Heathrow and Gatwick. However, things are now in a bit of flux, following strange decisions on the part of Iberia. 

Ryanair have been flying into Santiago from Stanstead for some time now and, as of October 2006, will also be flying from Liverpool. In high dudgeon, Iberia have responded to this local treachery by routing their flights to the La Coruña airport, further north. If you are coming to the south of Galicia, you should look at the Porto/Oporto options.

Vigo. This is the closest airport to Pontevedra but direct international flights are rare. You will usually need to change in another Spanish city such as Madrid or Barcelona. If you don’t leave a good margin, your luggage will probably not make it to Vigo with you but will always be delivered to your door soon after the next flight. 

La Coruña: As indicated, Iberia now use this as their Galician hub. Not very convenient for passengers but what the hell. And note that Iberia, at least, no longer serve free food and drinks on international flights to this airport. And the prices for sandwiches are said to be exorbitant.

Oporto: [or just Porto] in North Portugal. This is an excellent alternative if you are going to hire a car as the drive from Oporto to Pontevedra is door-to-door motorway and you can make it to Pontevedra in an hour and a half, even if you are one of the few to obey the speed limit. On the other hand, if you are in no particular hurry, it also affords you the chance to see some of North Portugal, which is at least as pretty as Galicia. And has more flowers.

Low-cost Flights:

Ryanair:  Fly from Stanstead into Valladollid, Santander and Santiago. As of October 2006, they will also be flying into Santiago from Liverpool. They also fly to Oporto.

EasyJet: Regularly rumoured to be looking at flying into Oporto, La Coruña and Vigo but, as of July 2006, negotiations seem to have stalled. Failing this, Oviedo in Asturias is the nearest they currently get.

What is the weather like in Galicia?

If you're thinking of coming for a holiday, the answer to this question is quite simple and brief – the weather is good to very good between May and September. There will be plenty of sun and temperatures will be in the 20’s most days. There may well be some rain but this will rarely last for more than a day or two. This is particularly true if you take your holiday in the lower half of Galicia, especially in the Rias Baixas. Or along the banks of the river Miño.

If you're thinking of coming to live here, then things get more complex, as generalisations are not much use. This is because, firstly, there are significant differences between the different micro-climates of Galicia in any one year and, secondly, there can be vast changes from year to year. For example,  2004 was the sunniest and driest year for at least 50 years. The winter of 2003/4 was in complete contrast to my first winter here [2000/1] when it rained non-stop from November to April. And the winter of 2004/5 has been even sunnier and drier than 2003/4.

So, if you are serious about possibly living here, take a look at this personal view of the weather here.  If you'd like to do some prior research, here are a couple of web sites:-  The Spanish meteorological office - www.inm.es    WorldClimate - worldclimate.com

Finally, a word of warning - you need to be careful about rain statistics. It's not enough just to know that there are x litres per year. There's a big difference between a place where this falls in torrents on 45 days a year and another place where it falls as a steady drizzle on 300 days a year. Most of us would find the former a better place to live in!

Is there a list of places to stay in Galicia?

Yes. The Galician tourist organisation – Turgalicia – publishes a wide range of guides and these include a Guide to Hotel, Pension and Camping Accommodation and, as I have mentioned, a Guide to Turismo Rural Accommodation. Both of these have English and Spanish translations of the Galician text.

If you are planning to be in the Rias Baixas and are looking for a very pleasant and convenient place from which to tour the area along the Spanish-Portuguese border – and perhaps down into north Portugal – then I recommend O Buxo. This casa rural is signposted from the main road from Tui to La Guardia and can be reached within only 5-10 minutes of either Tui or the N550. The email address of the  house is – obuxo@mundofree.com. You can also get information from the Turgalicia website – www. turgalicia..es

What are the sea temperatures like?

The English Speaking Society of Pontevedra has an in-house expert who has measured the temperature daily – during the summer at least – for many years. This he has done at a beach (Arenas) near the major resort of Sanxenxo (Sanjenjo) but I guess there won’t be too much differentiation along the coast.

     Summer - range of 15-23C, with an average of 19C. Once in 35 years the temperature has reached 25C but I think we can ignore this

     Winter – range of 12-18C

What are the prices of summer properties?

The first thing to note is that the vast majority of properties are rented to Spanish tourists and these tend to book for a month at a time, either mid-July to mid-August or for the whole of August. If you want to book something for only two weeks, then you are better off going through a travel agent in your country of origin.

Prices naturally vary according to:-
- The fashionability of the location - La Toxa and Sanxenxo (‘La Marbella Gallega’) are premium places, for example.
- The month – July is cheaper than August
- The distance from the sea - The properties nearest the sea are said to be in the ‘primera linéa’, the ‘first line’.
- Whether the furniture is new or not

In Mid 2003, these were said to be the sort of prices you could expect to pay. All of them are in Euros and are for a month’s rental of a flat:-
 Noia: 420 (beach 2km away)
 Outes: 600
 Muros: 750-1000
 Portosín: 600-900. 1200 for a duplex/semi-detached or a house with a garden
 Vilagarcia: 1000-1200
 O Grove: Very little below 1200
 Sanxenxo: 1300-2000 for a one-bedroom flat. 1800-3000 for a two-bedroom flat
 La Toxa/Toja : 2700-3600
 Foz: 300-1800
 Bayona/Baiona: 1200-1400
 Ribeira: 900

Are there any international schools in Galicia?

‘The International Schools Directory’, available from the European Council of International Schools, should provide up-to-date information.

I know that there is one in Santiago – Chester College – and there may be one in La Coruña. Chester College has its own website – chestercollege.org  This is what one directory has to say about the college, doubtless written by the college itself:-   

Chester College International School is a private co-educational day and boarding school which offers an educational programme from kindergarten to grade 12 to students of any nationality between the ages of 3 and 18. The courses offered are co-validated in Spain and in the United States of America. Intensive Spanish and English classes are organised for those students who are not bilingual. Chester College offers its students a complete education, which will help them to develop their potential and prepare them intellectually for higher study and future careers.

There are private schools such as Los Sauces and SEC Atlantico and these claim to give a high proportion of their lessons in English. However, I have not found anyone who regards this claim as credible. From what I have been told, private schools here are not comparable with British private schools. There are a number of reasons why one might send one’s children to one but academic excellence does not appear to be among these

What can you tell us about local schools?

For a general overview of education in Spain, see the relevant bits in John Hooper’s book, ‘The Modern Spaniards’.

Primary schools offer 25 hours of teaching a week and this normally means 5 mornings a week from 9 to 2 or 2.30. In secondary schools, the total is 30 hours a week and this is given via a split day. The morning session is 9 to 2 or 2.30 and the afternoon session is 4 to 6 or 6.30.

'Subvencional' [or concertada] schools are ex-religious schools where the parents pay a contribution, towards materials, etc.. Hours are similar.

There are private schools in most large towns and cities. These do not have the reputation for educational excellence of private schools in the UK, for instance, but they do offer a degree of social cachet. And possibly better discipline.

40% of teaching must be done in Galician. This naturally includes lessons in the language itself, to ensure the children can make sense of the balance of the 40%.

Is it possible to receive UK TV channels?

Yes, it is possible to receive BBC, ITV and Sky programmes from the Astra2 satellites, plus dozens of other free channels. But the size of your dish is critical and this will need to get bigger the further south you are. The LNB may also be important. And you need to buy a BBC/ITV card from Sky, for which they will require a UK address.

Here's a very helpful site which will help those with a keen interest in this subject - www.astra2d.co.uk

Where can we buy furniture?

There are any number of furniture shops in and around all towns and cities. The following may appeal more to foreigners coming to live in Spain:-

Vigo: Corte Inglés department store, on Gran Via. They have a large discount outlet near Porriño, alongside the main highway to Portugal

Pontevedra: Casa, in the old quarter. Rather like Habitat.

Pontevedra: Abeto, in Calle Cruz Gallastegui. Small shop with high quality furniture, managed by our friend Amparo. This could well be the only place where you can converse in English. At least in Galicia.

Pontevedra: Pórtico. Small shop in Pontevedra but they have a large discount outlet on the main Bayona road out of Vigo [not the coast road]. Plenty of stuff from the Far East.  www.portico-sa.es

Vigo: Merka Mueble. They have outlets all over Galicia. Avendida de Madrid, Vigo.  www.merkamueble.com

Madrid: IKEA

What are the golf facilities in Galicia?

Take a look at an article in Golf International Approach of September or October 2003.

What brought you to Galicia?

Accident, really. Or Fate, if you like. My second wife, who was English, had married a Spaniard and had lived in both O Grove and Pontevedra. After we had visited friends of hers and I had stumbled on the numerous charms of the place, Galicia more or less chose itself as the place for a holiday/retirement home. I did try North Portugal but decided that, pretty as it was, it was - shall we say - quieter than Spain. Previous to all this, I had been one of the millions of Brits who had been utterly ignorant of the verdant nature of the northern third of Spain.

Are you a property agent?

No. 

GLOSSARY

The column on the left contains Gallego names and words you may come across. The italicised word is the Spanish equivalent you will find in your dictionary. And on some maps.

A: Feminine ‘the’ in Gallego (= La)
A rapa das bestas: The round-up of wild horses for mane and tail docking
Al paso: On foot
Alameda: Promenade. In Pontevedra,  it is opposite the town hall. And is the site of the August fairground
Albariño: The grape which gives the (white) wine its name
Alta: High(er)
Amandi: A very pleasant red wine from the Ribera Sagrada area, east of Ourense
Arribada de Carabela Pinta   Arrival of the ‘Pinta’ galleon [Columbus’ ship]
Autopista: Motorway, with charges
Autovía: Motorway, free
Ayuntamiento: The town hall, in Praza España
Bajas: Low(er)
Balneario: A town with thermal baths
Baroque : ‘Florid style of late Renaissance architecture, common in the 18th century’
Barrio: Quarter. Suburb.
Biblioteca: Library
Bodega: Inn, wine cellar
Bruxa: Bruja. Witch
Cañon: Canyon
Carnaval: Carnival
Carretera: Road
Casa: House
Casco antiguo: The old quarter
Castro: Fortified village, normally on a hill top
Centro comercial: Shopping mall
Churrasquería: A restaurant specialising in grilled/barbecued dishes
Corrida: Set of 6 bullfights, usually from 7 to 9pm
Costa da morte: Costa de la muerte. The coast of death
Dolmen: French name for ‘cromlech’ – flat stones on upright stones. Prehistoric
Dos giras: Two tours
Entierro de Ravachol: The burning and burial of Ravachol – a large effigy of a parrot. Don’t ask.
Estrada: Road
Eventos: Events
Farmácia: Pharmacy, Chemists
Feria: Feira. Fair or exhibition [ground]
Galiza: Galicia
Gaita: Galician bagpipe
Galerías: Balconies framed by windows, for sitting in during the rain
Gothic: 12-15th century architecture of western Europe. Main feature is pointed arches.
Guía: Guide
Hórreo: The little grain stores on legs that look like tiny chapels. The rings at the top of the legs are to stop rodents climbing up
Meixa: Meiga. Witch.
Mercado: Market
Mirador: Look-out point
Mosteiro: Monastero. Monastery
Movida: The (nocturnal) ‘action’
Municipal: Municipal!
Neoclassical: Late 18th to mid 19th century. Based on Roman and Greek architectural styles
O: Masculine ‘the’ in Gallego (= ‘El’)
País: ‘Country’. Any wine given this title should be approached with great caution. And a strong throat.
Parador: Mansion. Usually old. Now one of the government’s imposing hotel chain
Parque: Park
Pasado: ‘Walking’
Pazo: Mansion
Peña: A group of (heavily drinking) bullfight fans. Or opponents.
Peregrina: Pilgrim, wanderer
Petroglifo: Petroglyph. Rock carving
Platteresque: Like silverwork. Plata is Spanish for silver
Playa fluvial: Beach along the bank of a river
Pórtico: Gateway
Praia: Playa. Beach
Praza: Plaza. Square
Recinto ferial: Fair/exhibition grounds
Ría: Estuary/fjord/firth
Rias baixas: Rias Bajas The ‘lower estuaries of the NW coast, near Vigo and Pontevedra. Pronounced ‘ree-ass bye-shass’ and ‘ree-ass ba-hass’
Ribeiro: The grape which gives its  name to this white wine from the Ourense area
Río: River
Romanesque: Built in the Roman style that predominated before the Gothic period began in the mid-12th century. Thick walls, simple vaults.
Romería: Religious procession - usually of the Virgin Mary; often down to the sea
Ruta: Route
Sanxenxo: Sanjenjo. Pronounced ‘sanshensho’ and ‘sankhenkho’
Tres Reyes Magos: The Three Kings/Wise Men. The feast of the Epiphany on 6 Jan.
Turismo: The local tourist information office
Viaxa: Viaje’. Tour, trip, voyage
Virxen: 'Virgen'. Virgin
Xaobeo/a: Jacobeo/a. Associated with Saint Jacob/Sant Iago
Xunta: 'Junta'. Ruling body. The government of the Autonomous Community of Galicia
Zona monumental: Zone of monuments. The old quarter

Appendix: Comparable English Myths

In AD61, St. Philip sent Joseph of Arimethaea - he who had laid Christ in his tomb - to spread the gospel in England. Joseph took with him several missionaries and the chalice used at the Last Supper, full of Christ's blood from the cross. And in Glastonbury they built possibly the first ever above-ground Christian church. For centuries, Glastonbury was the English Jerusalem and one of the holiest places on earth. Pilgrims came from all corners of the earth to collect a sprig of the Holy Thorn Bush so that it could later be interred alongside them. Here were buried the remains of various saints and of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. And here, in the wondrous mineral water spring, still lies hidden the Holy Grail.

When Nazareth fell into the hands of the infidels, the monks at a small shrine in Walsingham announced that, fortuitously for them, the Mother of God had left Palestine and moved to Walsingham. The shrine at this place, they said, was actually the Sancta Casa from Nazareth. So the pilgrims duly came, to see - amongst other things - the Virgin's milk and one of St Peter's fingers. And still they come, both Catholic and Protestant.