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SECRETARÍA XERAL PARA O TURISMO

The General Secretary for Tourism belongs to the Department of Culture and Tourism of Xunta de Galicia (Autonomous Government). The main functions which are carried out by this institution are the following:
a) Planning and coordination, encouragement and promotion of tourism within Galicia, determining the adopted measures of the region’s tourist policy.
b) Direction and coordination of action of the Department of Culture and Tourism concerning tourism.
c) Implementation of effective channels of communications with other local and provincial organisms and the central administration and other administrations, as well as in the private sector.
d) Exploitation and promoting of Galicia’s tourist resources, directly or by means of Turgalicia, through promotion, advertising, public relations and another significant action, both within Galicia and the rest of Spain and abroad, without prejudice of the responsibilities of the Central Administration of the Spanish State.
e) Management and coordination of the action of the Department of Culture and Tourism directly or by means of the Anonymous Society of Management of Xacobeo Plan, related to the cultural and tourist appreciation of the Way to Santiago, its promotion, the management of the corporate image of Xacobeo and the network of youth hostels, as well as another action which benefits the Way to Santiago.
f) Implementation of the necessary tools to improve structures and tourist formation without prejudice of the responsibilities corresponding to other organizations.


GALICIA: ATLANTIC DESTINATION

San Andrés de Teixido y Punta Valteira [Archivo Turgalicia]

Galicia is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and is two thousand years old. Exploring this land in the Northwest of Spain permits to live a fine adventure full of tradition, lavish landscapes and unique towns. Galicia is multicolour, its landscape changes not only in each season but also if we travel from the coast towards inland, from the North to the South, from the East to the West. The existence of an Atlantic wide coastline and continental areas, as well as the big contrasts and the important climatic and geographical differences, allows us to understand the natural variety of Galicia. The length of Galician coast line and its winding profile marked by its “Rías” (inlets), capes, beaches, lagoons, cliffs... make Galicia a unique region where it is also possible to enjoy paradisic turquoise waters and fine sands just next to the Atlantic Ocean.
In Galicia each visitor can remember the enigmatic “castros” (fortified settlements) and maybe discover the Celtic. He can also travel to Gallaecia, the Roman Galicia, always present in its towns and villages, with historical centres perfectly preserved which take us to those period which everybody comes from and to which these cities give us the possibility to return.
Galicia is also the land of the one thousand rivers. The father of all of them, the Miño River, crosses Galicia from the Northwest to the Southeast touching both regions at the end of its route: the Galician and the Portuguese one, in order to end quietly flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.
In Galicia, the visitor can enjoy, according to their needs, a wide variety of types of Tourism: Pilgrimage Tourism, Water Tourism, Sailing Tourism, Rural Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Urban Tourism, Sand and Sun Tourism, Congress Tourism, Business and Incentive Tourism, Gastronomic Tourism, Oenologist Tourism, Thermal Tourism, Leisure and Sports Tourism and Snow Tourism.

Gastronomía gallega  [Archivo Turgalicia]

Galicia boasts its own lifestyle: the Atlantic lifestyle, marked by a high-quality standard of life, defined by factors like welcoming human relationships, a quiet lifestyle, the special relationship between Galicia’s people with the water, and the influence of the Atlantic ocean, what defines a unique culture and lifestyle.
Galicia boasts an attractive gastronomy coming from the Atlantic cuisine, familiar, friendly and traditional. This style became the Atlantic diet, typical of Galicia and based on a high quality basic raw which is cooked simply and in endless ways providing varied flavours and mouthwatering tastes. A traditional cuisine but at the same time very creative and renowned prestige; where seafood (fish and shellfish), vegetables and meat are prepared in countless ways and which mean the best sample of the Atlantic gastronomy. Wine must not be forgotten, the world’s best white wines, which are elaborated in this region. The red ones have already been deservedly appreciated beyond the Galician frontiers.
Galicia takes care of itself and takes care of you; health, welfare, feeling good with oneself is tradition; this is the reason why in this region you can care your body and your mind. The Roman legacy gave us their passion for medicinal water springs among other customs, and a good sample of it are the spas; some of them date back to that period of time and others date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Nowadays, besides the thermal centres or spas (salut per acqua) you can also care yourself in Thalasotherapy centres with sea water properties.
Galicia is tradition, is party. Being traditional, gastronomic... Galicia parties take place throughout the year, and it is difficult to find an excuse in order not to enjoy your leisure time in Galicia, a region where nobody gets bored.

Pazo de Santa María [Archivo Turgalicia]

Galicia is fun... there is a real wide offer of leisure activities waiting for you to enjoy this region: sea, air, land, rivers, trekking, fishing, scuba-diving, horse-riding, paragliding, rafting, climbing, surfing, wind-surfing,... and much more.
In Galicia, there is a wide accommodation network of different styles: hotels, hostels, campsites, rural tourism houses, ... many of them situated in historical buildings where you will experience to live other periods again; situated in unique landscape backdrop, where once you try it you will need to return here some moment of the year.
In Galicia you will feel good as at home, or better, you will sleep as at home... or better... you will eat as at home... or better...; for its accommodation, for its gastronomy, for its people... in Galicia... as at home... or better...

THE WAY TO SANTIAGO

Peregrinos en el Camino de Santiago  [Archivo Xacobeo]

The Way to Santiago has been declared the First European Cultural Itinerary by Europe’s Council in 1987 and Worldwide Heritage Site by the Unesco in 1993; later on, it was awarded with the Prize Principe de Asturias to the Concorde in 2004, what makes it a reference all around Europe. Moreover, the Way to Santiago is a European historical itinerary which is extended throughout the continent, joining its routes while it is approaching Compostela.
According to some old documents, the Iberian Peninsula (today Spain and Portugal) were part of those lands where the apostle Saint James preached the Christendom. After dying beheaded in Palestine, around 44 d.c., his disciples took his body on a boat towards Galicia, one of the Hispanic lands included in his preaching.
Since the first years of the 9th century (year 820) when the tomb of Saint James was discovered, endless numbers of people have gone on pilgrimage to Compostela and made true those words which, according to the Calixtine Code, the apostle told Carlomagno in his sleep “after you all people will go on pilgrimage until the end of the centuries”. This caused a great number of pilgrimages until the site he is buried. This influx formed a wide network of itineraries from different points in Europe, which is known as the Way to Santiago or Jacob Route.
During its twelves centuries of history, the Way to Santiago has generated an extraordinary spiritual, cultural and social vitality due to the meeting of people from such different places that this route caused based on the open exchange of ideas and artistic and social currents as well as a socioeconomic dynamism which favored the development of different areas in Europe.
Without any doubt, the Way to Santiago has always been the oldest and the most popular rout of the old continent. For two centuries, Jerusalem and Rome were the two attraction poles for European pilgrims and travellers, but they did not make a way. Santiago has also shared with them the attraction of the walkers from all the times, but it has also created a route, it has made a Way.

Peregrinos en el Camino de Santiago  [Archivo Xacobeo]

In the 11th century, the first pilgrims only went from inland Galicia and Asturian Kingdoms. However, Compostela soon started to attract pilgrims from other Christian Kingdoms, even beyond our borders. There are many reason by which historians explain that willingness of those pilgrims: curiosity, adventure... Many times they are commercial interests or cultural exchanges, some times pillage and exploitation of the defenseless walkers. However, there is not any doubt in that, in almost all cases, there is also a religions interest.
In the Middle Ages the pilgrimage was a symbol of life for the Christian, an insured walking toward the eternal moral. The 15th century knights came to take part in tournaments and knew other lands, although always showing mercy. Painters, sailors, noblemen, all of them expressed in different ways their veneration to the rest of Christ disciple, before finishing the 15th century.
One of the most medieval pilgrims towards Compostela is the French Aymeric Picaud, author of “Guide of the pilgrim towards Santiago de Compostela” about the French Way, recognized as the first travel guide in the history.
Everybody knows that the Ways to Santiago are art, history, culture and religion. However, there is another very significant aspect: the great ecological value it has. Because it is not only about landscape, the pilgrim’s inseparable partner, but also it is about the whole atmosphere, the natural treasure which crosses or lines the routes towards Compostela.
Galicia can be reached by many ways, but the best one is coming by completing the Way to Santiago, and there are many ways. A good sample of this are the following 11 official Ways with their respective itineraries:

-French Way: O Cebreiro-Triacastela-Sarria-Portomarín-Palas de Rei-Melide-Arzúa-Santiago de Compostela.

-North Way: Ribadeo-Vilanova de Lourenzá-Mondoñedo-Vilalba-Sobrado-Arzúa-Santiago de Compostela.

-South-east Way - Silver Route:
Starting Point:
A Canda- A Gudiña
Variation Laza:
A Gudiña-Laza-Vilar de Barrio-Xunqueira de Ambía-
Variation Monterrei:
A Gudiña-Verín-Monterrei-Trasmirás-Xinzo de Limia-Allariz
Continuation:
-Ourense-Cea-Dozón-Lalín-Silleda-Santiago de Compostela.

-Portuguese Way: Tui - O Porriño - Mos - Redondela - Pontevedra - Caldas de Reis - Pontecesures - Padrón - Santiago de Compostela

-Portuguese Way along the coastline: A Guarda - O Rosal - Oia - Baiona - Nigrán - Vigo - Redondela - Pontevedra - Caldas de Reis - Pontecesures - Padrón - Santiago de Compostela.

-English Way: Ferrol-Neda-Miño-Bruma-Santiago de Compostela.

-Primitive Way: O Acebo-Paradavella-O Cávado-Castroverde-Lugo-Melide-Arzúa-Santiago de Compostela.

-Fisterra-Muxía Way: Santiago de Compostela-Ames-Negreira-Fisterra

-Route of Arousa Sea and Ulla: In this itinerary the pilgrim goes up the Arousa Stuary where he can find the following ports: O Grove, Cambados, Vilagarcía, Pobra do Caramiñal y Ribeira; until its arrival in Pontecesures going up the Ulla River. Once you arrive in Pontecesrures, the Way is complete by going through Padrón towards Santigo de Compostela.

+Information: http://www.xacobeo.es/


SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA: FINAL POINT OF THE WAY

Fachada Catedral de Santiago [Archivo Turgalicia]

The city of Santiago de Compostela was born in the 9th century, in the Libredón Mountain, around the recent discovery of the Apostle’s remains in a Roman burial place; it is the place where the first temple to worship and protect it was built. The development of the Middle Ages is spectacular thanks to the European popularity of the pilgrimages, which becomes it one of the 3 centres for Christendom, together with Jerusalem and Rome. In 997 this worship to Santiago made Almanzor destroy and burn Compostela, taking the bells to Cordoba. In 1705, the King Alfonso II ordered to have the Romanesque Cathedral built.
In this way, Compostela started being a simple sanctuary to become a city due to the fast dynamism generated by the pilgrimages. Therefore, its current monumental and symbolic splendour comes from this direct relationship with the jacob world. With the time, it became one of the 3 big Holy cities for the Christendom, together with Jerusalem and Rome. In fact, all people who visit Santiago agree in thinking that it is a city with a great magic and special spirituality, which marks you and where you need to come back. Walking along its historical centre, its narrow and cobbled streets, living the multicultural lifestyle of its inhabitants and also of people’s different nationalities who complete the Way, is a real experience. And of course one of the most important work of art of all times: the set formed by the cathedral and its squares: Obradoiro - Quintana - Platería and Azabachería. It is one of Europe’s big historical cities, and this is why it was declared as a Worldwide Heritage Site in 1985.


THE CATHEDRAL

When you arrived in Obradoiro square and you are just opposite the majestic cathedral, you look at it and feel a breathtaking experience. Many people lie down in the square to look at it from the floor and dream hanging from the sky. It is one of the most important Romanesque temples in all the times, although some Baroque elements were added later, both outside and inside, making the temple a great structure as well.
Another important factor for the faithful is entering the cathedral through the Holy Door, which is only open along the Holy Year.
The visitor of the Cathedral of Santiago finds a ritual which has been practiced by pilgrims for more than one thousand years. The route starts in the Gate of Glory, one of the most valued Romanesque sculptural sets, built by Master Mateo for twenty years and finished in 1188. The next step is “hugging the Apostle” situated in the High Altar. Finally the narrow stair behind the golden statue representing the apostle leads to a tiny golden crypt under the High Altar which keeps the apostle’s remains.

THE BOTAFUMEIRO (The huge censer)

Botafumeiro [Archivo Xacobeo]

At midday hour in liturgical special celebrations and everyday in Holy years, the visitors will have the occasion of seeing and enjoying one of the most exciting moments of the Way to Santiago and which takes place inside the cathedral, The Botafumeiro. It is a spectacular silver censer which weighs eighty kilos, whose original mission has been freshened the temple. It hangs from a rope from the high arquit transept, and with and push it is driven, turning off and rising 21 metres high with an arch of 65 metres, almost touching the floor at 68 kilometres per hour, leaving a smoked and incense .
Simply breathtaking, something that you cannot miss if you decide to complete the Way or visit Santiago de Compostela.

THE COMPOSTELA

This document dates back to the 14th century and it is the only one which certificates someone has completed the Way to Santiago. The Compostela is written in Latin and it is given by the Cabildo of the Cathedral of Santiago through its Pilgrim Office to those who can proves having completed at least the last 100km in any of the historical itineraries eon foot or 200km. by bicycle or on horse and also sailing. Without any doubt, going back to home with the Compostela is an amazing memory for an unforgettable and unique route which marks many people for the rest of their lifes.

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