One of the countless attractions that Galicia offers visitors is not to be found in its landscapes, nor in its heritage, nor in the cookers that give life to our tasty gastronomy. It is enough to take a look at the skies to enjoy the spectacle that nature gives us, as many people have been doing for millennia. Astronomical phenomena have marked the lives of the inhabitants of these lands since time immemorial, conditioning aspects as different as the sowing and harvesting of the fields, the construction and orientation of funerary monuments and the celebration of various festivities. Phenomena such as the sunset have inspired legends and have turned places like Fisterra in a reference for people from all over Europe. And there are also many parallels between the Way of St. James and the Milky Way itself.
Galicia is an ideal place for contemplating the sky, as accredited by the Starlight Foundation, which has included three different locations in the region among the destinations with “excellent sky quality” and an “example of protection and conservation”. The certifications awarded by this entity created by the prestigious Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute take into account those places that “incorporate the observation of the sky as part of their natural, scenic, cultural or scientific heritage and promote Starlight Tourism”. In this way, “astronomy and the vision of the sky can be used as a tool for a new form of sustainable tourism”.
In August 2015, the mountains of the Trevinca protected natural area, in the municipality of A Veiga (Ourense), became the first area in Galicia to be certified by the Starlight Foundation. The altitude of the area and the fact that it is far from large population centres make it an ideal place for observing the Milky Way and periodic astronomical phenomena, such as the Perseids and Geminids, which occur in August and December respectively. Pico Maluro, A Tablilla das Lagoas and O Rañadoiro are the three vertices of the triangle that delimits this observation area where several astronomical viewpoints have been set up.
More information at http://www.aveiga.gal/turismo/miradoresastronomicos.php
Atlantic Islands National Park of Galicia
In January 2016, Galicia received its second Starlight seal with the certification of the Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia as a tourist destination for astronomical observation. The foundation thus recognised the enormous potential of the four archipelagos that make up this protected area (Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada) for this activity, confirming it as one more attraction to add to its enormous natural and scenic values. The spectacular nights on the islands have inspired various activities aimed at promoting the protection and observation of the night skies, and the possibility of staying overnight in the park itself, in the accommodation provided in Cíes and Ons, facilitates access to these proposals.
More information at https://www.parquenacionalillasatlanticas.com/index.php?lang=es
Just a few months ago, in December 2020, the municipality of Muras (Lugo) became the third Galician site to be recognised to date by the Starlight Foundation with one of its certifications. The mountains of the Xistral Range stand there as unbeatable balconies to enjoy the stars. Ten different observation points were identified, grouped into two large areas sufficiently far from the population centres. The first zone includes the Campelas da Auga and Piocorto viewpoints, and the Cruz da Fraga Gorda, while the second zone includes the Manzoi and A Gañidoira viewpoints, the Cruz de Bestermud, the Alto da Amosa, the motorhome area of the municipality, the Cruz do Campo and the Carballeira do Viveiró.