Costa da Morte, it sounds rough and so it is. This so-called ‘coast of death’ is one of Galicia’s three major coastal areas. The Costa da Morte characterises by heavy rocks, steep cliffs, authentic fishing villages, classic lighthouses and a wild ocean.
Where is the Costa da Morte?
The Costa da Morte is the middle of the three coastal areas of Galicia. It is in between the other coastal areas Rías Baixas and Rías Altas. The Costa da Morte is about 120 kilometres long. It starts in the North just passed A Coruña, at the village of Mulpica. The coast ends heading south at Finisterra, where the Rias Baixas start.
La Costa da Morte is the ‘corner’ of Galicia and the most Northwestern region of Spain. No wonder the ocean is wild here, it enters from both the North and the East.
At this coast you won’t find big cities and it’s not densely populated. If you like nature and stunning views, La Costa da Morte is waiting for you!
Why is this coast cold ‘coast of death’?
Costa da Morte means ‘coast of death’ in Galego. Why this name? The name is not invented to frighten you, but originated from fear. Many ships have been wrecked at this coasts due to hidden rocks and rough ocean. The Costa da Morte is known as the most dangerous coastline of Spain, even today. High capes, steep cliffs, rocks hidden in the water and the power of the Atlantic Ocean.
The name Costa da Morte is not a modern invention. The name already appears in documents from the medieval era. Since the 14th century there have been reported more then 600 shipwrecks! One of the most well-known disasters took place at the end of the 19th century. In 1890 the HMS Sergent sank with 160 English sailors on board. Just 3 of them survived the disaster.
In those days it wasn’t easy to navigate before the coast of Galicia. Out of sight, below the water, are heavy rocks and to navigate the captain could only trust on his vision, unreliable maps and the light of lighthouses.
Nowadays we use GPS and radar to navigate. But still, that cannot prevent all shipwreck to happen. In 2002 Spain’s biggest ecological distaster took place when the oil ship Prestige sank at the Costa da Morte. Many oil came into see and also on the Galician beaches. ‘Nunca Mais’ (never ever) said the Gallego’s and came en masse en protest against the oil tankers coming so close to their coastline.
Things to see at the Costa da Morte
The Costa da Morte may be terrifying for sailors, for tourists it’s still a very beautiful area, and safe when on land. The rough coast is impressive, the many capes are beautiful, the fishing villages are authentic and the food (Marisco!) is delicious. And who knows, you could encounter a deserted beach on your trip.
The following places are worth a visit at the Costa da Morte. In order from North to South:
Camariñas, the lighthouse of Cabo Vilán and the English cemetery
At the fishing town Camariñas is plenty to see. The village itself with is beautiful wooden promenade. And off course the marisco you can enjoy here (like in every Galician fishing village).
Besides the village you should visit the ‘Cemiterio dos Ingleses’, the English cemetery. Here you’ll find a monument for the victims of the disaster with the HMS Serpent in 1890.
Further on you should have a look at the lighthouse of Cabo Vilán. One of Galicias most iconic lighthouses!
And to conclude visit Duna de monte Branco, the hightest sand dune in Europe! A fantastic area for a walk.
Muxia and the church of Virgin a Barca (saint of the sea)
A beautifully located church near the wild oceaan. It’s an important religious building for Galician fisherman. In this church they honor the patron saint of the sea: La Virgen a Barca. The saint who protected many fisherman against the rough sea. Near the church there is also the impressive monument ‘A Herida’ (the wound) to remember the disaster of the Prestige in 2002.
The fact that Murxia is an important religious village is also apparent because there is a special Camino way that leads from Santiago to Muxia and ends in Finisterra.
The village of Muxia is also beautifully located. The ocean is everywhere around the village.
The real end of Galicia. It’s the most Western place in Spain! It goes just a little bit more West into the ocean the neighbouring village Finisterre. At Cape Touriñán you’ll find a beautiful cape into the sea with an authentic lighthouse. Enjoy the view!
Known to many as ‘the end of the world’. The fishing village and especially the cape of Finisterre are a must see at the Costa da Morte. For many pelgrims this village is also the end of their Camino. Read more about Finisterre here.
Like to see more of the Costa da Morte?
Have a look at the following spectacular drone images
Tips to do
A trail about the full length of the Costa da Morte. From Muxia to Finisterre. A fantastic walk in Galicia. And for a change something different then the well-know camino. For more information: https://www.caminodosfaros.com/en/
Tour by car
Do you have access to a car (or camper)? Take a day to drive along the coastline of the Costa da Morte. From North to South or vice versa. It’s one of the most fantastic routes you can drive in Spain. And have a pause at the places I described above. Or on places you will discover by yourself! Boa viaxem!
ps. a tour at the Costa da Morte can be combined perfectly with a tour in the Rias Baixas