The cultural and language origins of
Galicia are very much rooted within the Celtic family of communities found
elsewhere in North West Europe and has led to Galicia always having a sense
of looking outwards from their regional base as opposed to looking inwards
towards the rest of Spain.
Because of its location and partisan
traditions Galicia was always fairly inward looking having managed to survive
throughout the centuries without ever really been conquered by anybody
and this degree of fierce independence has lasted and developed down through
In what has been a mountain to climb
slowly but surely Galicia is now trying to manage successfully the twin
track of its regional lifestyle with a much more modern society and thankfully
this appears to have had very positive results with regards to tourism
with little sign of negative effects..
If you take a look at Galicia on
a geographical basis and divide it into four quadrants or two halves then
the southernmost part would be that area south of a line drawn between
Santiago de Compostela in the west and possibly the Reserva Nacional de
os Ancares in the east which as anyone who knows the area covers quite
a wide area.
Included within this area is the
major city of Vigo and just north is the provincial capital of Galicia's
southern province, Pontevedra. Southern Galicia also includes further to
the east Ribadevia, Ourense, Monasterio de Ribas de Sil and Monforte de
Lemos. Further south almost on the Portuguese border you will find the
Mino River Valley.
The Mino River is actually Galicia's
longest river covering approximately 190 miles from its source high up
in the Sierra de Mierra in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
On its way downstream it flows through the towns of Lugo and Ourense entering
the Atlantic at A Guarda. The river valley is actually a beautiful landscape
of steep valleys and extremely good agricultural land and the hidden jewel
in all of this is that it is here where the best wines in Galicia are grown.
The area produces nice crisp white wine called Ribeiro.
There is an interesting drive through
the valley for a tourist that is approximately 47 miles and there are many
interesting stopping off places along the route. To the south of the route
you will find Salvaterra de Mino leading next to Arbo, Crescente and finally
leading up to Melon. Here you will find the Monasterio de Santa Maria de
Melon which once belonged to the Cistercians. Fragments of the original
buildings dating back to the 12th Century have survived and make this an
interesting site to walk around.