Whenever a traveler goes on a new voyage, there is a desire to explore, a curiosity to discover new things along the way and a great sense of adventure that engulfs him. While sunbathing on a beach and spending a luxurious vacation in a resort are pretty awesome, going over to historical places and monuments has a certain charm of its own. If you are looking to do something unique, adventurous, and spiritual, you may want to check out the Lighthouse of Finisterre in Galicia.
Cape Finisterre was the last stopover for pilgrims who made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The Lighthouse of Finisterre stands at the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula at Cape Finisterre, on the west coast of Galicia, Spain. The renowned lighthouse is considered to be one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe. To add to the wonder, the wild and treacherous Cape Finisterre is said to be the ‘End of the World’ since medieval times. On your pilgrimage through the Camino de Santiago, spare a couple of days to visit the active Lighthouse of Finisterre at Cape Finisterre.
History of the Lighthouse of Finisterre
The legendary Lighthouse of Finisterre was constructed in the year of 1853 at the tip of Cape Finisterre. When the skies are clear and the sun is shining brightly, one can enjoy the view of the famous Galician lighthouse from up to 30 kilometers out at sea. The lighthouse is a reminder of numerous marine battles that occurred between the French and English around the cape. Furthermore, countless shipwrecks from ancient and current times rest on the bottom of the Atlantic. Due to its bloody history and jagged coastline, the slippery route of Finisterre is often aptly called the Coast of Death. Go up to the beacon, take a deep breath and look into the eye of history.
When pilgrims would reach the cape after completing the Way of St. James, they would burn their shoes and clothes to start their lives afresh. The spot has a life size bronze boot to mark the end of the journey. In the ancient times, the cape was the place where Celts would worship the sun and perform other rituals. Today, many pilgrims who walk The Way of St. James burn their belongings to pay homage to the old ritual and make a clean start.
The Architecture of the Lighthouse of Finisterre
The Lighthouse of Finisterre is the westernmost lighthouse in Europe. The lighthouse stands atop the peak of Cape Finisterre, the Coast of Death. The mount on which the beacon stands is approximately 241 meters in height. The lighthouse has a granite tower which is 17 meters (56 ft.) in height and has a range of 23 nautical miles (43 km; 26 mi). The focal height is 143 meters (469 ft). The unpainted granite tower is octagonal in shape. It has a balcony and a silver lantern which is attached to keeper’s house. Three years after its constructions, in 1888, a new building, called the Vaca of Fisterra (the cow of Fisterra), along with a siren was added as well because there was a constant fog in the winter.
Why is the Lighthouse So Important?
The lighthouse of Finisterre is not just for decoration. As one of the most powerful lighthouses in the whole of Europe, its light covers an impressive range of 65 km. The light helps seaman to find their way safely along the coast. It alerts them of the dangerous jagged edges and sharp rocks that line the coast.
Things to Do at the Cape Finisterre
Beautiful Sunsets and Celtic Spirituality
Surrounded by the vastness of Atlantic Ocean, Cape Finisterre is usually the last stop of the trip. The cape offers views to the wildly beautiful coast, the immense ocean and spectacular sunsets that happen every evening. If you enjoy nature, you will absolutely love the peaceful ambiance, Celtic spirituality, and salty sea breeze.
For pilgrims, the place tends to invoke emotions as it marks the end of their pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago. Those who are entering the new beginning after their pilgrimage sometimes burn their shoes and clothes by the bronze sculpture of the boot to make a clean start. You will often find burned clothes tied around the rocks and sticks as a memory of their journey along the Camino de Santiago. You don’t necessarily have to burn your shoes, some people choose to do it as a symbolic gesture.
For other travelers, the place holds no less significance. Its beauty is enough to immerse anyone. Stand at the western most spot in Spain and witness superb sundown. If you are into photography, you will surely capture some wondrous shots.
Take a Hike at the End of the Camino
For those of you who are a bit of sport enthusiast, it is worth walking the hiking trails atCamino de Finisterre. What’s more, you will enjoy some amazing verdant Galician scenery along the way. You will stumble upon several small villages and countryside inns during your walk and they are great for a breather. When you have reached the end of the world, you will find the famed Lighthouse of Finisterre. Don’t worry if you don’t really want to walk the extra miles, you can always take a bus directly.
Beaches of Finisterre – Playa Lagosteira and Playa de Rostro
The secluded beaches, Playa Lagosteira and Playa de Rostro, have to be two of the best secret spots in Galicia. The sun kissed beaches are clean with clear, warm water and gentle waves. If you go early in the morning, you can even have the whole beaches to yourself. Ideal for families with kids and couples, the beaches are great for quiet strolls, picnics, and relaxation. Take a break from windy hills and enjoy a sunny day at Playa Lagosteira or Playa de Rostro. Don’t forget to pick up a few lovely scallop shells.
Explore the Quaint Village of Fisterre
Right beside the cape, there is a tiny village by the name of Fisterre. The fishing village features a harbor, many restaurants and eateries and lovely people. On your way to the Lighthouse of Finisterre, it is highly recommended that you make a little stop here, have lunch, meet locals, and explore the town.
Cemiterio Fisterra Cesar Portela – An Abandoned Cemetery
While walking to the cape, you may come across a curious set of cemented cubes in the woods. The set of these cubes is an abandoned cemetery which is gradually being reclaimed by the wild greenery of the woods. The cemetery has a dark beauty about it that every nature lover will appreciate.
Cruceros Fisterra – Take a Cruise
The cruise in the Atlantic is going to be the highlight of your trip to the cape. During the cruise, you will get to see the lighthouse, the cape, and an amazing sunset from a unique perspective.
The trip to the Lighthouse of Finisterre sitting atop the cape is challenging, but it is worth it. Whenever you have a chance to visit Galicia, make sure you take some time to check out the fantastic ‘end of the world’.
Originally published on 27th July 2017, updated on