Scenic landscapes, blue seas, regional foods, religious landmarks, and tremendous historical heritage, you’ll find that and so much more as you visit the cities and towns of Spain’s Northern Coastline.
After taking a train from Madrid to the tip of Northern Spain, we arrive at La Coruña in Galicia. This port city is the birthplace of my paternal Grandparents. The Tower of Hercules, is an ancient Roman lighthouse in La Coruña, it’s the oldest known still-functioning Roman lighthouse in the world, the rectangular tower sits alone on a windy and hilly peninsula. The city’s main square is the Maria Pita Plaza, named after the heroine of a battle in 1589, against English forces.
We took a day train trip to the other outstanding city in the province, Santiago de Compostela. A beautiful town which welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year. The city’s cathedral is the destination of a famous medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St James (in Spanish the Camino de Santiago). Recognized through legend as the final resting-place of the Apostle James – the first of the Twelve Apostles to suffer martyrdom at the hands of Herod. When we visited, the massive Baroque cathedrals numerous priests were holding mass in several languages.
From La Coruña we drove east to the lovely city of Oviedo. Just south of the coast it is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias. The city has many medieval churches in a historic part of town, and many modern apartments in the surrounding area. We stayed in an incredibly modern building that houses the Ayre Hotel as well as Congress and a large shopping mall. Once the site of a soccer stadium, this alien looking white structure is surrounded by greenery, parks and the a colorful mid century apartment neighborhood.
From Oviedo we continue to drive east on some very modern and very lightly travelled expressways to the coastal area of Llanes. We stopped at a little village called Naves from which my maternal grandfather’s family was from and named after. It was once voted the prettiest town in Asturias. Just 12 miles south of the coast we witness the “Picos de Europa”, a tall range of mountain peaks which also boast the largest national park and some incredible caves. Snow covers the tips in winter.
We continue east to the port city of Santander, the capital of Cantabria. We stayed by the beautiful beach cove El Sardinero on the northeastern part of the city by the peninsula de la Magdalena and it’s lovely palace.
Our last stop on this part of the trip was in Bilbao, the center of Basque country. The jewel one must witness is the Guggenheim Museum. This Frank Gehry 1997 designed architectural wonder of limestone, glass, and titanium was once hailed as “the greatest building of our time” and sits along the curvy Nervión River.
An outstanding trip and visit to my family’s birthplace!