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The Region

Extending above Portugal in the northwest corner of Spain, Galicia is a rain swept land of grass and granite, much of its coastline gouged by fjord-like inlets. It is a land steeped in Celtic tradition - in many areas its citizens, called Gallegos, speak their own language (not a dialect of Spanish but a separate language, Gallego). Galicia consists of four provinces: La Coruña (including Santiago de Compostela), Pontevedra, Lugo, and Orense.

The Romans made quite an impression on the region. The Roman walls around the city of Lugo and the Tower of Hercules at La Coruña are part of the legacy. The Moors came this way, too, and did a lot of damage along the way. But finding the natives none too friendly and other battlefields more promising, they moved on.

Nothing did more to put Galicia on the tourist map than the Camino de Santiago, the Pilgrims' Route. It is the oldest, most traveled, and most famous route on the old continent. To guarantee a place in heaven, pilgrims journeyed to the supposed tomb of Santiago (St. James), patron saint of Spain. They trekked across the Pyrenees by the thousands, risking their lives in transit. The Camino de Santiago contributed to the development and spread of Romanesque art and architecture across Spain. Pilgrimages to the shrine lessened as medieval culture itself began its decline.