Camariñas

Sea Foam, Rocks, and Lace

Camariñas is a village on Cape Vilan. A poet called it “Pombiña do Vilán.” This poet used the word “pombiña” (dove) because of the color white that is associated with the animal. In Camariñas, there are many elements of the color white: the whitewashed houses, the lace that is characteristic of this town, and even the sea foam.

Located on the Costa de La Muerte in the province of Coruña, or “Costa da Morte,” its turbulent coast contrasts with the tranquility of its estuary. To experience its traditional dishes and find the best place to stay, visit our pages for Eating and Staying in Camariñas.

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In Camariñas live the remains of two castles: that of Mourin in the Mount Da Croa, and that of A Punta dos Castro. These castles serve as proof that this beautiful landscape attracted ancient inhabitants. There are also the remains of a causeway built by the Romans, who always took advantage of a good natural port. During the Middle Ages, a sailor introduced the lace industry to the village. The lace has since been perfected by the “palilleiras” of Camariñas.

During the reign of Carlos III, the Fuerte del Soberano was constructed. The same structure was assaulted in 1809 by Bonaparte’s soldiers, who then looted the city and killed a large part of its inhabitants.

The Costa da Morte has earned its nickname due to the many shipwrecks it has seen, and Camariñas is in one of its most dangerous sections. On November 10th, 1890, the war ship HMS Serpent was struck against the Punta do Boi, and only three of the 175 sailors survived. The population aided in the salvage and the recovery of the bodies, which are buried Cementerio de los Ingleses. Because of this incident, a lighthouse was constructed with a 24-meter-tall tower. This lighthouse was also the first in the history of Spain to use electricity.

The most popular attraction in Camariñas is its extraordinary harbor, a perfect refuge even when the weather is at its worst.

From the ruins of the Castillo del Soberano (also known as Batería del Soberano in honor of king Carlos III), located at the entrance of harbor, you can admire the breath-taking view. The castle consisted of a walled enclosure, including a bulwark and a moat, with the entrance located on the side. There is a nave on the inside that serves as an armory, warehouse, and barracks. It was constructed with huge, granite ashlars, but all that currently remain are the foundations. This is because it lost its use as a defensive structure, and it was dismantled in the 40s so that the materials could be used for the construction of a pier.

When you enter the village, you can hear the music of the “bolillos de boj,” (wooden sticks) which means that the women (known as ‘palilleiras’) are “palillando” (making music by clacking the sticks together). This tradition dates back to the 16th century, and it was most likely brought to Camariñas by the sailors who traded with the Netherlands and the Flanders. Thanks to the creation of the Escuela de Palillo, the Centro de Promoción del Encaje moved to adapt old techniques to the current designs of the textile sector, and thanks to the celebration of the Feria do Encaixe (during Semana Santa), the industry has shown potential. Tourists can visit the Museo del Encaje, in which the ancient tradition is preserved. The museum is also home to an exhibit that showcases Camariñas lace compared to other examples of the textile from around the world as well as pieces of lace ranging in age from the 17th century until current times.

The Faro de Cabo Villano (1896), Camariñas’ main monument, is a few kilometers away from the village on the coast. It stands 125 meters tall, it is connected to the old lighthouse keepers’ building, and it also has a light that can be seen from 55 km away. It was declared Ínterés Nacional” in 1933 for being so rocky and rugged, and it is today considered part of the natural heritage along with the rest of the coast from Camariñas to Camelle (the Red Natura 2000 Costa da Morte). The Museo del Faro is inside the building, where you can learn about the different shipwreck and maritime signals. Whether you’re on your way there or on your way back, you should stop at the Mirador de Pedrosa, where you can experience fantastic views. Nearby is the Castro de Croa, an example of the first settlements in the region. In its ruins, you can examine its circular shape and the remains of its powerful fortification.

Another museum worth visiting is the Museo del Alemán in Camelle. Manfred Gnädinger was a German who traveled to Camelle and ended up staying forever, dedicating more than 30 years to its creation. It is very connected to nature and also, therefore, to the concepts of “land art.” According to his neighbors, the German died of sorrow for the tragedy known as the Black Tide, an oil spill caused by the tanker Prestige in 2002. The museum houses a vast collection of stones, cardboard, wood, animal bones, and fishing gear, perfectly combined in vivid colors and various forms that show the greatest harmony between the sea and the land.

The sea has come to be the traditional mode of subsistence and plays a huge part in the cuisine of the area. The fish and shellfish industries are the main source of income in Camariñas. It’s port is always teeming with life, and you can enjoy the catch of the day in the restaurants in the coastal town.

The Essentials

Practical Information

Coordinates

43° 7′ 48″ N, 9° 11′ 6″ W

Distances

80 km to A Coruña

75 km to Santiago de Compostela

674 km to Madrid

Parking

There is plenty of parking in the municipality

Altitude

10 m

Population

6,168 (as of 2011)

Romería del Carmen (July 16th)

Fiesta de San Bartolomé (in Arou, August 24th and 25th)

Feira do Encaixe (during Semana Santa)

Lace from the Palilleiras of Camariñas

Nearby Destinations

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