The National Marine Land Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia, made up of the archipelagos of Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada, keeps many secrets that, despite been there, you probably do not know. Today we reveal a few…
Some say that all the islands are connected to the coast by secret tunnels. True or not, the reality is that the only known way to access them is still the ship. In addition, the Romans called them “Islands of the Gods”, due to their undeniable natural beauty and to that they were located to only a few kilometers of the then called “end of the world” (Cape Finisterre). Some authors argue, in fact, that Julio César came to be in pursuit to the herminian people that escaped from Portugal. Later, in the sixth century, religious communities began to be established in the islands. In the Cíes, in fact, two convents were installed. There they lived with a population under their feudal regime and, in the middle of the sixteenth century, this people ended up leaving the islands frightened by the pirate attacks of Turks, Tunisians and English. Among them, Francis Drake, who would enrage with the Ría de Vigo ravaging these islands.
And speaking of Cies … Did you know that a few years ago the beach of Rodas was described by the British newspaper The Guardian as the best beach in the world? And it is not surprising … It is in Cies also where the largest colony of yellow-legged gulls on the planet is found, of which there are more than 22,000 couples. These birds are accompanied by many others that make these islands a sanctuary for them.
From the island of Sálvora the legend says that each of the islets that form it is a person turned into stone by a spell thousands of years ago. They also say that it is in this island where the Santa Compaña has its headquarters. More than once it has been hidden behind the rocks or emerging from the same sea to cross the old abandoned village. Who knows? It is better not to check …
Let us go even better to Ons and to his “Hole of Hell”, a five-meter-diameter and forty-deep gulf situated in the south of the island and in which, they say, we hear the cries of souls tormented by their sins. In addition, legend says that deep in the hole is a bull with golden horns that protects the islanders from the world from the dead.
It is in Cortegada where we find the largest forest of laurels in Europe, with two and a half hectares and almost 500 trees. And speaking of trees, we have to mention an enormous oak in the middle of the island that, according to the old stories, was dedicated to eat the goats of the locals until, one day, they filled the mouth of stones, giving place to that today it is known as “tree with pebbles”.
They are, in short, the Atlantic Islands, the most mysterious and probably the most interesting part of Galicia, and although we will never know if all that is said about them is real or pure magic, what we do know is that once you step on it for the first time, it is practically impossible not to be carried away by its charm and come back. Always come back.