Ortigueira

The Summer Capital of Celtic Culture

Ortigueira is a village located near a marvelous estuary and wetlands on the northern coast in the province of Coruña. The place was made famous by its International Celtic Culture Festival.

Planning Your Trip to Ortigueira

A visit to the village of Ortigueira and its bay can take up an entire day. An option for the following days is to travel to the west by the A862 and A566 roads to Cedeira, a fishing village with the highest cliffs in Europe, and continue on to the northeast where you’ll find San Andrés de Teixido (a famous landmark of the Romans in Gallicia). You can also continue to the northeast to the Estaca de Bares Park. Later, you can continue along the coast until you get to the spectacular Beach of the Cathedrals (we suggest checking the schedule of the tides to make sure you visit during lowtide). These places are not the most touristy, so we recommend booking things in advance. You can click here to visit our pages Where to Stay in Ortigueira and What to Eat in Ortigueira.

Interested in this town?

The existence of the Dolmen of the Cross (Cruz da Faladoira) and the Castro of the Campo da Torre, along with the rest of the Bronze Age artifacts found around Ortigueira, can give testimony to the passage of many ancient nomadic peoples and the continuous settling and resettling of the area.

During the Middle Ages, the history of Ortigueira was marked by the efforts of resettlement by the Asturian king Alfonso II the Chaste (8th and 9th centuries) and Viking incursions. It was during this era that the name Orticaria came to be associated with the area that we know today, It is believed that the name Ortigueira has a Latin origin and means “full of nettles.”

During the reign of Alfonso X The Wise, the land gained the title of Villa and Charter of Benavente. This triggered the construction of its port, its defensive walls, and some salt warehouses, which proved positive incentives for new settlers to move to Ortigueira. These settlers also received the privilege of maintaining direct commercial relations with foreign traders. They built the Castillo de Santa Marta in this era, but it was remodeled on various occasions over the centuries, and it came to shelter some 800 people in the 18th century. The fortress was torn down to make room for the construction of new buildings, including a singular tower on the plot that is known as Campo da Torre.

When dividing up the provinces in 1480, the Catholic rulers integrated Ortigueira into the province of Betanzos.

Throughout the 19th century, the War for Independence had an effect on the region, and with the arrival of the Restoration, there came numerous media outlets of those who strongly supported the Argarista movement at the end of the 19th century. Then began a few years of prosperity in Ortigueira. Thanks to the maritime industry in Ortigueira, there was an influx of wealth in the town, and the it was able to make much-needed improvements to its infrastructure.

Ortigueira is made up of beautiful landscapes which include mountains, a river, the sea, and the most extensive estuary in all of Northern Galicia. A true, natural spectacle, here you can find everything from impressive cliffs to hiking trails to beautiful beaches. But nothing is more interesting that the region’s heritage.

The history of the municipality of Santa Marta de Ortigueira is entrenched with religion. The construction of the Convent of Santo Domingo, which was started in 1302, transformed the village into a major destination, bringing in commercial revenue.

The Convent of Santo Domingo was founded by the Dominican monks at the beginning of the 14th century. In 1835, with the Confiscations, the monks were forced to abandon all their convents so that they could pass into the hands of the State. In 1849, it fell into the possession of the City Council, so that it could turn the church into the parish seat. The building that we can se today dates back to the 18th century. This convent underwent diverse modifications and extensions throughout its history, and nowadays, offices house municipal installations, like the town hall (rebuilt in 1995) and the Teatro de la Beneficencia, located in the east wing of the convent. This theatre is a Romantic architectural jewel.   Originally an old wine warehouse for the monks, it was transformed by the new owners into a beautiful theatre, with a stage and theatre boxes. Some of the highlights include the painted ceiling and stage, created at the end of the 19th century by various local artists. Cultural associations or other groups are allowed to organize events in the theatre if they obtain municipal authorization.

Outside of the convent, the village of Ortigueira extends to the Barrio do Ponto, the oldest part of the village and where the original residents lived. The neighborhood is formed by narrow, irregular streets winding around the Paraciña dos Anxos, where the old town hall is located. Its layout is very square, and it has a regal air. It was also once the site of the first school for girls in the village. The Old Market, in the Plaza de Isabel II, where the old prison used to be until 1857. The current structure was built in 1917. Take note of the two lines of five columns of wrought iron that sit atop wooden pedestals. On top of the columns, which lack decoration, sits the wooden deck, which is covered with flat tiles. Markets take place here every Sunday and Thursday.

The Royal Street is, and has been since the 19th century, the commercial, economic, and cultural center of Ortigueira. The people who represent the village live here. Here, take note of the architecture of the era, with its granite corners and framework, wrought iron balconies, and its white galleries.

Ortigueira is also known for its stately palaces. Above all is the Pazo de Brandariz, in the inlet of A Preguiza. Here you can see the emblems of the stately families: the eagle of the Aguiar, the tree of hearts of the Cora, the vero of the Pardo and Cela, and the weapons of the Luaces. Also noteworthy is the Pazo de Couzadoiro, in the parish of San Cristovo, which is made up of a central building and two towers with a balcony and staircase on its façade.

There is a lot to see in this religious landmark, thanks to the Camino de Santiago. The Way of St. James, the northern pilgrimage road, has crossed the region of Ortegal since the 12th century, since it has a designated stopping point for the pilgrims. Another example of religious architecture is the Iglesia Parroqial de Santa Marta. It s floorplan is that of the Latin cross, it has only one nave, side chapels, a tower, and a skylight above the transept. On the south façade, there sits a beautiful door of three levels built in granite and ashlar masonry. On the inside, in addition to the barrel vault, the Baroque altarpieces of the main altar and the altarpiece of the rosary stand out with large images carved from wood. The cloister is also worth visiting.

This village is also popular for its Ortigueira Festival, which is known internationally. This festival celebrates Celtic folk music. It has been celebrated every summer in July since 1978.

The Essentials

Dónde dormir en Ortigueira
Dónde dormir en Ortigueira

Practical Information

Coordinates

43° 40′ 59″ N, 7° 51′ 0″ W

Distances

95 km from Coruña

136 km from Santiago de Compostela

600 km from Madrid

Parking

You can easily find a parking space on the outskirts of the village

Altitude

58 m

Inhabitants

6064 (in 2013)

Festival in honor of Santa Marta (July 27th – August 1st)

Festival Ortigueira (International Celtic Festival, July 11th – 14th)

Mercado Mariñeiro de Ortigueira (third weekend in August)

Feria de la Miel (November 18th)

Jornada de Dulces de Carnaval (During the Carnavales)

Cultural Association of the Friends of Art (Asociación Cultural Amigos del Arte)

Nearby Destinations

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