Finisterre: where the world once ended

Finisterre and Costa da Morte

Table of Contents

Finis Terrae

Finisterre is one of the most western towns in all of Spain, already known by the ancient Romans. In fact, its name derives from the Latin “finis terrae”, that is to say from the earth, because the ancient Romans were convinced that the earth ended there.

Cape Finisterre is in fact one of the westernmost points in Europe and therefore in the known old world. The primacy of the westernmost point of Spain actually belongs to Muxía (which we will talk about later in the article), more precisely to Cape Touriñán.

Finisterre and the el Camino de Santiago

But what does Finisterre have to do with the Galician capital? Many pilgrims who decide to undertake the Camino de Santiago after their arrival at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela decide to extend their pilgrimage to Finisterre. The pilgrimage lasts about three days and the pilgrims have to travel another ninety kilometers or so.

In fact, tradition says that pilgrims bathed in the sea as a sign of purification and burned a garment they wore during their pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago.

In the Finisterre lighthouse there is also a stone with kilometer zero of the Camino de Santiago to which many tourists take lots of photos. Nearby is also the cross where pilgrims usually leave a stone as a reminder of their time there.

After Finisterre there is Muxía

Some pilgrims, after bathing as a sign of purification, at Cape Fisterra decide to continue the pilgrimage one more day, for about 33 kilometers where they meet Muxía on the Costa da Morte.

Near the town there is a small church, the Santuario de la Virxe da Barca or Nosa Señora da Barca, where, according to tradition, the Virgin came to encourage the apostle Santiago to preach also in the north of the Iberian Peninsula.

This sanctuary was last rebuilt in 2015, after the serious accident that occurred on Christmas 2013. In this accident, the altarpiece and the ceiling were completely burned.

Muxía also marks the end of the journey to the Atlantic and more and more pilgrims arrive there, embarking on the Camino de la Costa or Camino Real.

Finisterre and costa da Morte

The wound

Near the Sanctuary there is a large stone monument called La Herida, which commemorates the tragic sinking of the Prestige oil tanker in November 2002, which caused a serious environmental disaster.

The Prestige was an oil-producing launch that sank off the Spanish coast on November 19, 2002 with a cargo of 77,000 tons of oil. Probably one of the worst disaster of the humanity.

We hope that this monument will remind future generations to try to avoid these types of human-made disasters.

Costa da morte

Talking about Muxía we also mention the Costa da Morte. It is a coastal area of Galicia that extends from Malpica to Cape Fisterra. Its name derives from the difficult conditions of the sea and the formation of the coast that is characterized by numerous rocky cliffs that face the sea. Its name derives from ancient stories of fishermen and the numerous tragedies and shipwrecks that occurred there.

The crosses that we see on the coast, such as that of Finisterre, (another famous one is that of Cabo Roncudo), remind us of the various disappeared at sea. Several pilgrims have also drowned in Finisterre due to the lack of information about the dangerous waters that form eddies and thus drag those who decide to go bathing.