Galicia has many success stories to offer OneEurope
A Coruña - balconies

Galicia, an autonomous community in the northwestern part of Spain, is not connected with Galicia located in Poland and Ukraine. The Latin origin of the name «Gallaecia» (Celtic peoples living north of the Douro river) reminds the historical fact that this territory was for a short period a part of Roman Empire, when Roman legions came here in the 2nd century B.C. There are many evidences concerning Roman tracks in Galicia; for example, the Tower of Hercules (Torre de Hércules) an ancient Roman lighthouse in A Coruña and the Roman Bridge in Ponte Vella.

Galician people could also succeed in maintaining their identity and preserve their own language – Galician (Galego). It has common origin with Portuguese language as Galician takes part from the same family of languages. Besides, in the basic institutional norm of Galicia Estatuto de Autonomía de Galicia (The Galicia Statute of Autonomy of 1981) is fixed the preservation of Galician language on the same level with Spanish.

For many people around the world Galicia is connected with the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which is the burial-place of the apostle St. James the Great shrine. This is the reason why the capital of Galicia is considered a holy city that became a leading Catholic pilgrimage route the Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago) since 9th century. According to the legend the shrine of St. James were transported by boat from Jerusalem to Santiago de Compostela and buried in the main cathedral. In the today’s city we can see, especially in the summer time, thousands of tourists and pilgrims attracted by the spiritual adventure and the wish to try their strength during an exhausting way on foot. Many pilgrims are wearing a scallop-shell on their clothes and in every souvenir shop in Santiago de Compostela we can find shells, t-shirts and magnets with it. In German language this sort of shell has even the name Jakobsmuschel which reminds about the apostle James (Apostels Jakobus). In the Middle Ages pilgrims wore the shell on their robe or on their walking stick and it was a mark which kept pilgrims safe during their journey. The shell is also placed on signs and posts along the route that helps pilgrims find their way. In 1986 Paulo Coelho, famous Brazilian author, walked as a pilgrim the Way of St. James. He shared his experience in the autobiographical novel “The Pilgrimage”, besides he told that this long spiritual route served him as turning point in his life. Other cities in Galicia are probably not as popular around the world as its capital Santiago de Compostela, but anyway every year they attract more and more tourists.

Second biggest city in Galicia after Vigo located on a peninsula, A Coruña, is a busy port city surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. What can seem special A Coruña is a peculiar architectural feature in constructing balconies - the "galeria" - an enclosed glass paneled balcony. This type of balcony is connected with the naval architectural option for marine cities that have windy and unpredictable weather during all year round. A big part of A Coruna was built between the 19th and early 20th century, when houses with “galleria” were extremely popular. Besides, “galleria” design the city has to offer tourists a combination of sightseeing and superb hospitality of Galician people. The historical part of the city which is called traditionally “Old Town” includes A Coruna’s main square “Plaza de Maria Pita” where are located the Town Hall and Council building. The churches build in the Middle Ages take part from old part of the city and represent examples of the gothic design from the 12th and 15th century (the Church of Santiago, the church of Iglesia de Santa Maria del Campo).

Galicia is distinguished from other regions of Spain by dense forests with the eucalyptus and pine trees. Besides, it has a large coastline which helps Galicia maintain the image of the “sea food” capital of Spain. Even favorite Spanish tapas (wide variety of snacks or finger food in Spanish cuisine served usually with glass of beer or for tourists with a jar of sangria) can contain more options with seafood in Galicia than in the rest of Spain. Speaking about traditional Galician dishes it is important to mention empanada and Tarta de Santiago. Empanada is a traditional Galician pie with a filling of vegetables, fish (tuna or cod), seafood or meat, although it is possible to find it throughout Spain. Tarta de Santiago is an almond cake from Galicia meaning exactly the cake of St. James and that’s why it is decorated in the middle with an imprinted cross with the sugar powder (cruz de Santiago). In many Galician cafés and restaurants we can taste also churros (fried-dough pastry cut into strips and served with very thick hot chocolate), chorizo (special type of pork sausages with paprika), famous paella which is in general original from Valencia, but it is also served in Galician restaurants as well and many other dishes famous throughout Spain. 

People in Galicia succeed in harvesting grapes and produce some well-known regional wines as Albarino and Ribeiro. Besides, they prepare at home different types of liqueurs which they usually drink with coffee after lunch. The whole region can be mysterious not only for foreigners, but even people from other parts of Spain can find Galicians enigmatic. This is probably due to rumors about meigas who  live in Galicia and represent old women with knowledge in magic and obscure, they can also tell the future or even cure from some deceases. The traditional alcoholic beverage Queimada (“fire drink”) created also some peculiar legends due to the special process of its preparation. It should be made usually in a hollow pumpkin or in a large terracotta pot with Galician sort of alcohol similar to brandy called augardente or orujo. People while preparing the drink usually utter an incantation and add to augardente such ingredients as herbs or coffee, sugar, lemon peels, coffee beans and cinnamon. Then the mixture is lighted on fire with the help of orujo and sugare and the flames spread across the surface. Queimada is ready when the flames totally fade away and the drink should be consumed hot.

Many fans of fashion and especially fans of best-known Massimo Dutti or Zara brands were informed that these brands are part of the biggest Spanish fashion group Inditex. But not all of us could have known that the homeland and the head-quarter of Inditex is Arteixo, an municipality in the A Coruña metropolitan area of Galicia. The founder of Inditex Amancio Ortega Gaona, the richest person in Spain and the 4th richest person in the world according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index from March 2014, chose A Coruña as his residence that attracted attention to the city from the media all round the world.

Galicia has many success stories to offer: Galicians could not only preserve their identity and language within Spain, but also create a prosperous autonomous community in the part of Europe with a challenging climate and a faraway location from the capital of the country and other important business centers.