Filed under: cap finisterre, lighthouses galicia, top-feature
An emotional event in Cap Finisterre/Galicia
The Camino de Santiago, one of the world’s longest pilgrimages, officially ends when the wanderers reach the cathedral of the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela/Galicia. However, many decide to continue on to Cap Finisterre, the End of the World and to burn their boots and travel clothes in a symbolic ceremony to mark the beginning of a new, better life.
For me, it’s one of the most fascinating places to visit in Galicia, Spain’s north/western province. Cap Finisterre is located on the Atlantic coast and although it is not the most western point of Europe, which actually is to be found in Portugal, it was already known as the end of the world in Roman times.
Standing on the steep rocks, just below the lighthouse and looking out over the vast expanse of the churning Atlantic Ocean below, you can easily imagine why the place came by that name.
Cap Finisterre is also the beginning of Galicia’s Coast of Death which stretches along the ocean further north to Camarinas and beyond. The coast got its name from the many ship wrecks and sea catastrophes which occurred over the centuries.
The lighthouse itself cannot be visited, but you can walk around it and, with utter care, climb over the rocks.
And then there is the boot! It’s a sculpture of a bronze boot, standing outlines against the blue sky on a rock. When I visited, I happened upon a group of pilgrims who had just completed the last leg of their journey and were actually burning their hiking boots. It was all very emotional and they did not want to be photographed, which I of course respected.
You can do a little pilgrimage yourself by covering the last 2 miles from the town of Finisterre to Cap Finisterre on foot. It’s uphill, but not too steep and the views along the way are marvellous. You’ll also find the statue of a female pilgrim by the wayside, who is always carrying a bunch a fresh flowers.
The town itself is worth a visit too. It’s mainly a fishing village but the pilgrims bring a lot of tourism business. Visit the Lonxa (live fish market and auction hall) and then walk on to a small castle, the Castillo de San Carlos, which contains a museum documenting anything to do with fishing and ship wrecks in Galicia. Admission is €5 ($6.50) and opening hours are from 9am to 12 noon and 3pm to 6pm. Bear in mind that all over Spain, the siesta hours which generally last from 2pm to 5pm are taken seriously and many museums close during ‘siesta’ too. Weather permitting, you can walk along the road in the direction of Cee and after a mile or so you come upon an incredibly wide, white beach which is mostly visited by locals, so you can easily find a peaceful spot all to yourself.
How to get there
I took a coach from Santiago de Compostela. It runs three times a day and the journey takes 5-6 hours. Ticket is €50 ($65). Following advice of fellow travellers, I stayed in Finisterre in the Hotel Ancora.
Carretera del faro 16
Fisterra (Finisterre in Gallego is spelt: Fisterra)
Tel: 981 740 68
The hotel is open year around and a spacious single room with en suite bath costs €20 ($26) which is very reasonable. Double rooms in low season are €36 ($47) and in high season €42 ($55) The restaurant is famous for sea food and the owners are a never ending fountain of local stories and folklore which they are happy to share with anyone who shows an interest.
Photographs are authors own.
AInsula FinisterraeView Details and Book