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10 curious things that maybe you did not know about the Atlantic Islands of Galicia

If there’s something we at Nabia know about, it’s the islands. We travel to them and we always get a kick out of discovering new things about them! Specifically, today we want to talk to you about the Cíes Islands, Ons Island and Sálvora Island which are part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park.

Despite our in-depth knowledge of them, they have so much to offer that we learn something new every time we pay them a visit. We see how the landscape changes depending on the season of year; we see the stories that children imagine; we see them with the same eyes as someone seeing the sea for the first time; or all of a sudden, we see a Northern gannet flying a few metres above us as we take a stroll.

This is why we wanted to share ten legends, facts and trivia about these islands with you today, which you probably didn’t know about.

  • There has been speculation that Ons Island and the Cíes Islands were part of the Cassiterides which the ancient Greeks talked about. The name “Kassiteros” means tin producers, which is what the Greeks called a group of islands from where they supposedly got their tin. The exact location of these islands remains a complete mystery and they referred to some point between Galicia, Brittany and Great Britain. In the islands, there is no evidence whatsoever of any tin mines, which means that they were an exchange point along the trade route.
  • The legend goes that the Cíes Islands served as a refuge for the Irminones, as if they were the last Gallic village. The Irminones were a Celtic tribe from the north of Portugal; a group of these warriors managed to escape the Romans by hiding out in the Cíes Islands. Finally, after the siege of Julius Caesar and his troops on Faro Island, the Irminones had to surrender to the Romans.
  • The Cíes Lighthouse is the lighthouse in Galicia with the highest light, standing at 187 metres above sea level. Our visitors are well aware of this as the path to the lighthouse is one of the busiest and most popular for its climb up in a zig-zag pattern, requiring great effort before reaching the highest point in the islands.
  • The Cíes served as a temporary health checkpoint before the leper hospital of San Simón was built in 1842. At that time, one health deputy, two maritime pilots and four sailors lived in the islands. They would go out to meet all the boats that were going to the port of Vigo to find out where they came from and their state of health. If they suspected that the ship’s crew might be infected with any disease, they would be escorted to the port.
  • The Ons Lighthouse is one of the lighthouses with the longest range in Galicia and in Spain. Its light beam has a range of 25 miles, which is equivalent to about 46 km. What’s more, the Ons Lighthouse continues to be manned by a lighthouse keeper—one of the few remaining in Spain today.
  • Sálvora Island can boast its very own mermaid: Mariña. A mute mermaid who was found on the beach by the gallant Don Froilaz. Don Froilaz married the mermaid and Mariño was born of this relationship. In order to make Mariña speak, the noble decided to give her a fright and brought his son to a bonfire, pretending to throw him into the fire. Such was her shock that the mermaid made her first sound. Such were the beginnings of the Mariño family, the island’s first owners.
  • Ons is the island with the most furnas (sea caves) in the Park, with around 30. The furnas are caves created by erosion of the cliffs and fracturing of rocks. The most visited of all is Buraco do Inferno, a furna whose roof caved in, creating a pit 43 metres deep.
  • Galician horses live on Sálvora Island. Grazing has always been a traditional activity on Sálvora Island and nowadays, nearly ten horses graze to their heart’s content there, contributing towards the conservation of the landscape.
  • There are fish salting factories in the Cíes, on Ons and on Sálvora. The islands’ nature and the ties their inhabitants have to the sea have always been important: proof of this is how their economies are inextricably linked to fishing activities.
  • The famous microclimate that we often speak of is not just an urban legend. The climate in the islands is not the same as the oceanic climate we have on the mainland, since the scarcity of rainfall in summer gives rise to a period of drought. This is more characteristic of a Mediterranean climate.

These are just some facts about the islands. Come and discover more with us ( https://www.piratasdenabia.com/comprar-billetes ) and see how they bring us different stories: everything depends on what colour your looking-glass is.

Customer Service

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(+34) 986 320 048

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Our Activities

Vigo-Costa-a-Costa

Ría de Vigo Costa a Costa (con visita a Baiona)

Lágrimas de San Lorenzo (Perseidas)

Ferry to San Simón

POSTER-SAN-SIMON

San Simón – OrientaAventura

Sálvora and Ons

Isla de Sálvora

Cíes desde el mar

pulpo-fauna-submarina-cies

Ruta del Pulpo

ria_vigo_baiona

Ruta Bahía de Baiona (con degustación de mejillones)

ruta del marisco

Ruta del Marisco

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