Camariñas is a village on Cape Vilan. A poet called it “Pombiña do Vilán.” This poet used the word “pombiña” (dove) because of the color white that is associated with the animal. In Camariñas, there are many elements of the color white: the whitewashed houses, the lace that is characteristic of this town, and even the sea foam.
Located on the Costa de La Muerte in the province of Coruña, or “Costa da Morte,” its turbulent coast contrasts with the tranquility of its estuary. To experience its traditional dishes and find the best place to stay, visit our pages for Eating and Staying in Camariñas.
There are the remains of two prehistoric settlements. The one in Mourin, in the Croa mountain, and the one in A punta dos Castro. Proof that the extraordinary conditions of its bay must have attracted people from ancient times. There are also traces of a roadway built by the Romans, who always took advantage of a good natural harbour. During the Middle Ages, some sailors brought to the town the work of textile lace, developed by the “palilleiras” of Camariñas since then.
During the reign of Charles III, the Fort of the Sovereign was built. This would be assaulted in 1809 by Bonaparte’s troops, as a prelude to the plundering and murder of a large part of the population.
The Costa da Morte has earned its name at the cost of numerous shipwrecks. Camariñas is in one of its most dangerous stretches. On November 10, 1890, the war cruiser HMS Serpent crashed into Punta do Boi and only three of its 175 crew members managed to survive.
The population turned to the rescue and recovery of the bodies, which were buried in the “Cementerio de los Ingleses”. As a result of this drama, a lighthouse was built with a 24-meter-high tower. This was the first in Spain to use electrical energy.
The most popular attraction in Camariñas is its extraordinary harbor, a perfect refuge even when the weather is at its worst.
From the ruins of the Castle of El Soberano (also known as Batería del Soberano in honor of king Charles III), located at the entrance of harbor, you can admire the breath-taking view. The castle consisted of a walled enclosure, including a bulwark and a moat, with the entrance located on the side. There is a nave on the inside that serves as an armory, warehouse, and barracks. It was constructed with huge, granite ashlars, but all that currently remain are the foundations. This is because it lost its use as a defensive structure, and it was dismantled in the 40s so that the materials could be used for the construction of a pier.
When you enter the village, you can hear the music of the “bolillos de boj,” (wooden sticks) which means that the women (known as ‘palilleiras’) are “palillando” (making music by clacking the sticks together). This tradition dates back to the 16th century, and it was most likely brought to Camariñas by the sailors who traded with the Netherlands and the Flanders.
Thanks to the creation of the Escuela de Palillo, the Centro de Promoción del Encaje moved to adapt old techniques to the current designs of the textile sector, and thanks to the celebration of the Feria do Encaixe (during Semana Santa), the industry has shown potential.
Tourists can visit the Museo del Encaje, in which the ancient tradition is preserved. The museum is also home to an exhibit that showcases Camariñas lace compared to other examples of the textile from around the world as well as pieces of lace ranging in age from the 17th century until current times.
It is essential to see its main monument in Camariñas. It is a few kilometres from the town, on the coast. It is the Cabo Villano Lighthouse (1896). It stands at an altitude of 125 metres and is linked to the old lighthouse keeper’s building. It has a powerful light cannon capable of reaching 55 km. In addition, it was declared of National Interest in 1933 because it is a rocky and steep place.
Today it is a Natural Heritage Site, integrating, together with the rest of the coast from Camariñas to Camelle, the Costa da Morte Natura 2000 Network. Continuing with tourism in Camariñas, inland you can see the Lighthouse Museum. It is an interpretation centre for shipwrecks and maritime signs.
On the way there or back, it is worth stopping at Pedrosa Viewpoint. From there you can enjoy extraordinary views. You must also see in Camariñas the Castro de Croa, not far from this area. It is an example of the first settlements in the region. In its ruins you can see the circular shape and the remains of its powerful fortification.
Another place to see in Camariñas is the German Museum in Camelle. Manfred Gnädinger was a German who came to Galicia and stayed forever in Camelle. He devoted himself for more than 30 years to its creation, very much linked to nature and therefore close to the land art budgets.
According to the neighbours, the German died of sadness with the tragedy of the oil slick caused by the oil tanker Prestige, in 2002. The museum includes an extensive collection of stones, cardboard, wood, animal bones and elements of the fishing gear. They are perfectly combined in bright colors and varied forms that seek, with an ecological and particular interpretation, the greatest harmony between the sea and the rocks.
The sea has been the traditional means of subsistence and a great gastronomic source. Fishing and seafood are the main source of wealth in Camariñas, which has an important fishing port and restaurants. Here you can eat your catch fresh from the sea. So, in your tourism in Camariñas, do not forget to try their recipes.