6 incredible facts about Las Catedrales beach

Cathedral Beach

Praia das Catedrais (Spanish: Playa de las Catedrales, English: Playa de las Catedrales) is on the northwest coast of Spain. This is the name given by the tourist industry to the Praia de Augas Santas (translated from Galician: ‘Beach of the Holy Waters’). The beach is located in the municipality of Ribadeo, in the province of Lugo (Galicia), on the Cantabrian coast, and is about ten kilometres west of the town of Ribadeo. Its name derives from its rock formations. It has been declared a Natural Monument by the Regional Ministry of the Environment of the Xunta de Galicia.

Description

The characteristic features of the beach are its natural arches and caves, which can be seen only at low tide. At high tide, the beach seems small but is still suitable for swimming. At low tide, the size of its cliffs and sea caves is most evident, ranging from small cracks in the rock to large caves whose ceilings have collapsed due to wave erosion.

At low tide, you enter a sandy deposit bounded by a rocky wall of slate and shale that forms 30-metre arches resembling cathedral buttresses, large caves, sand corridors between rocky blocks and other geological features. Particularly low tides create access to nearby beaches across the sandy area. As the stretch of the coastline is almost horizontal, the water covers the beach again very quickly.

Know Before You Go

As of 2015, there is a limit on the number of visitors allowed per day. Due to the tourist boom on this beach, the authorities limited daily visitors to less than 5,000. It is therefore recommended to visit Cathedral Beach in winter or during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn). Visitors will be able to have a more satisfying experience without the crowds. It is also key to schedule your visit when the tide is low.

Located along the western border

The “Cantabrian rasa” along the Galician coast of Spain is a stretch of sand just under a mile long, but full of a most unusual series of geological formations. This beach alone proves that Mother Nature had a fondness for flying buttresses ones before any human engineer patted himself on the back for coming up with the now-iconic architectural feature.

Officially called the Praia de Augas Santas or “Beach of the Holy Waters”, the beach is more often referred to by the name the locals use for their natural wonder halls: The Beach of the Cathedrals.So named after the extraordinary natural rock formations that resemble the soaring arches found in Gothic cathedrals, the unusual geology along this particular stretch of coastline gains even more magic from the fact that its glory is only revealed at low tide.

As the waters recede, a vista of natural arches, cliffs and sea caves is revealed. The arches themselves reach 90 feet high, while deep, eroded caves extend into the cliff. Connecting all these features are sandy patches formed by the shale and slate of the rocks themselves. Cathedrals Beach has become a popular destination for those who feel a more sacred kinship with nature, or seek to experience a touch of the divine in a new and unexpected environment.

It is recommended to wander among these rocky outcrops and explore all these nooks and crannies at low tide, although keeping a watchful eye out for the returning sea is a must. Thanks to the region’s extremely flat coastline, the ocean can sometimes return alarmingly fast, for once the high tide comes in, all traces of the cathedrals and those who bask in their glory will be inundated until the cycle begins again, revealing the secrets that lie beneath its waves.

Ourense

Ourense is a city and capital of the province of Ourense, located in the autonomous community of Galicia, in northwestern Spain. It is on the Portuguese Way of the Camino de Santiago and is crossed by the rivers Miño, Barbaña, Loña and Barbañica. It is also known as ciudad das Burgas (in Galician) due to its thermal waters, being one of the European cities with the greatest thermal heritage.

Population

Its population of 105,233 (2019) represents 34.2% of the population of the province and makes it the third-largest city in Galicia.

In 2019 14,171 foreigners were living in the city, representing 13.5% of the total population. The main nationalities are Portuguese (31.8%), Venezuelans (11.2%) and Romanians (7.9%).

By language, according to 2018 data, 32.3% of the population always speaks Galician, 17.1% always speaks Spanish and the rest use it interchangeably.

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History

The origin of the city dates back to the Romans and the presence of thermal waters called the Burgas. These are still visible today. There was also the need to fortify the site to protect one of the easiest ways to cross the river Minho. After the Romans, Ourense was part of the Swabian kingdom for most of the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries and was destroyed by the Moors in 716. It was later rebuilt by Alfonso III of Asturias around 877. The Norse invasions, as well as attacks by the Arab warlord Al-Mansur, once again destroyed the city. It was only under Sancho II and his sister Doña Elvira that the city was resettled during the 11th century. The definitive urban impulse did not come until the 12th century when Ourense became an important service centre. Recently, the city has made many efforts to provide new parks, bridges, fountains and geothermal spring facilities to make the city more attractive.

Cathedral of Ourense

Although mainly a city of services, Ourense is not exempt from its tourist sites in Galicia. The city has three parts: the medieval part, the 19th-century expansion area and the modern perimeter. Many of those who drive along the road from Madrid to Vigo are unfamiliar with the medieval quarter, with its narrow streets and small squares. Once an area of some dilapidated charm the area is now undergoing renovation and is full of typical restaurants and bars patronised by the city’s university students. The Plaza Mayor is the centre of city life with its arcaded shops and the Town Hall.

The Cathedral is the most important monument in Ourense. This cathedral (founded in 572; rebuilt in the 13th century) is the second oldest in Galicia. It occupies the same site as the Suevian basilica that stood there in earlier times. Romanesque in structure, but with a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles, it is rather hidden away but, contains a façade with the Door of Paradise in imitation of the Door of Glory of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Inside, the Capilla del Cristo, or Christ’s Chapel (16th century), contains a crucifix venerated throughout Galicia.

The Miño is crossed at Ourense by the Ponte Vella(Old Bridge). With Roman foundations, it was reconstructed by Bishop Lorenzo in 1230 but frequently repaired since then; it has seven arches and a central span of 141 feet (43 m).

The Silver Route and thePortuguese Way, different routes of the Way of St. James, pass directly through Ourense. The Ruta de la Plata, the longest of all the routes of the Camino, starts in Seville and moves northwards through the west of the country. Pilgrims on both routes are important for Ourense’s tourism industry, especially in the holy years of Santiago when traffic on the Camino is especially high.