CASTROS de BAROÑA: Celtic Origins of Galicia

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Staying in Porto do Son is the perfect opportunity to investigate the roots of Galicia’s intriguing Celtic heritage. During my pilgrimage across Northern Spain last year, I passed through a small village O Cebreiro, consisting of very cute circular stone huts (castros) set on top of a mountain overlooking spectacular countryside. It was unfortunately very touristy, so I did not linger for long. When I discovered what these circular buildings were and that there were ruins of a similar settlement near Porto do Son. The Castros de Barona was one of our first destinations in the area.

Hill Forts sketch castros drawing art travel
Sketch of Castros “hill forts”

Castros (hill forts) were fortified enclosures surrounded by ditches and walls in which circular stone buildings with thatched roofs were constructed in settlements along the coastal areas of Galicia. Usually located on mountains and elevated coastal positions for defence purposes, they also have breathtaking views. The location of the Castros de Barona seemed like a fantastic excuse for a Sunday walk from our new home town. We ambled along our favourite coastal walk, checking if the surf was beckoning……….no, still too cold! Venturing around the next bay and down someone’s driveway, which thankfully led down a goat’s track into the bush, we climbed up and down rocky paths passing more barking German Shepherds and were beginning to wonder if we should have followed the road. Luckily John enjoys adventures as much as I do. About two hours later, we stumbled down another very steep and rocky (bouldery) path and we had our fort in sight….

Castro de Barona hill forts Porto do Son Galicia seascapes celtic photo art travel
Castro de Barona

This ancient Celtic village was built approximately 2500 years ago, however was apparently not discovered until 1993 due its isolated position. We took the time to wander around the constructions and take in the stormy ocean views. John paid close attention to the basic cooking facilities to determine whether they would be adequate for making his tortillas…..

Johns cocina hill fort castros de Barona Galicia Porto do Son photo art travel
Johns new kitchen
View from Castros hilll forts Porto do son seascapes atlantic photo art travel
View from Castros

Visiting such ancient places reminds me of how easy life is today and yet people complain more than ever before. Imagine having to hunt for your food every day, while also defending yourself from the enemy, not to mention bracing yourself from the harsh elements of the Atlantic. The housework would be easy though……….I would be a good housewife and stay at home by the fire, while John did the ‘hunting and gathering’ in his fox skin attire. A sight to see!

DESASTRE DEL PRESTIGE 2002

Since the weather has been warming up, we have loved an after-dinner walk along the headland to absorb the sunset. We noticed an interesting modern stone sculpture and kept wondering what it was about. Finally, I searched the internet and sadly discovered it was in memory of Spain’s biggest ever ecological disaster.

Monument Desastre del Prestige Porto do Son Galicia disaster photo art travel
Monument Desastre del Prestige

In 2002, a single hulled tanker, larger than 2 football fields, loaded with 77,000 tons of oil sank 250km off the Coast of the Costa da Morte, with lethal effects on birds and the marine ecosystems. Thousands of volunteers dressed in protective clothing and masks cleaned up the coast numerous times over subsequent years. While the long term effects on the environment and local people are unknown, the memories of such a tragic event for one of the best preserved coasts of Europe will remain forever.

Seeing the Castros and then reading about the ecological disaster was a reminder to work harder on reducing our environmental footprint. A simple life is the only way.

On a lighter note, we are very lucky to be experiencing such a pristine area at its very best; sunny skies, white sandy beaches, enveloped with crystal clear turquoise water.

 

RIO TAMBRE AREA

We have enjoyed many walks and country drives around Porto do Son. Close to the gorgeous town of Noia, the Rio Tambre feeds into the large Ria and flows past old villages built amongst luscious green mountains. We found a large dam on the map, and decided to head into the mountains in search of another adventure. After winding around steep narrow roads for half an hour we ended up back where we started………I was navigating again! Second attempt, we climbed steadily in a large circle looking down into the abyss for two hours without seeing another car. We couldn’t believe that we had such stunning rural scenery all to ourselves. Eventually returning back in the vicinity of Noia, we couldn’t resist taking photos of this amazing Roman bridge, Ponte Nafonso. Although the true antiquity of the bridge is unknown, it is thought to be of around the 12th century and previously the only way to cross the estuary.

Ponte Nafonso Noia Ria Muros roman bridge photo Galicia art travel
Ponte Nafonso

FOODIES SPOT

Trying to think of new ways to use our very large bag of white beans, inspired these vegan patties:

Mix together all the following ingredients; mashed white beans (2 hours cooking), chopped onion, garlic, peppers, grated ginger and zucchini, pinch of rosemary and thyme, sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Bake in hot oven until brown on top.

Optional: add a tin of chopped chicharrillos or sardines

They were delicious with salad, but John (master chef) thought a bit of jamon would have made them even better!

vegan patties white bean zucchini food Galicia photo art travel
Vegan white bean patties (before cooking)