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Celtic hill forts in Galicia

  • View of the Castro de Viladonga archaeological site. Castro de Rei, Lugo © Ministerio de Cultura

    View of the Castro de Viladonga archaeological site. Castro de Rei, Lugo © Ministerio de Cultura

  
  


" During the Iron Age, in the late prehistoric era, human beings decided to leave behind their itinerant existence and settle in villages of different sizes. ..."

During the Iron Age, in the late prehistoric era, human beings decided to leave behind their itinerant existence and settle in villages of different sizes. This was the origin of the Celtic hill forts in north-western Spain, some of which would survive until the arrival of the Romans.

In Galicia, this hill fort culture has bequeathed a valuable architectural and artistic heritage that can be seen in museums and at many archaeological sites throughout the area. A visit to any of them is an ideal opportunity to discover this history of these legendary villages for yourself: their wealth of crafts and traditions, their way of life...

One of the most characteristic elements of the hill forts in Galicia is their setting. They were usually located either on mountains and in elevated positions or close to the coast, so that nature itself would provide them with defences. Nowadays, these special locations mean that they also enjoy stunning views.

Hill forts were fortified enclosures surrounded by ditches and walls. Inside there were circular stone dwellings with thatched roofs, laid out in neighbourhoods and separated by streets and squares. Other longer buildings served as places of reunion or worship, and some settlements even had steam baths. The hill fort of Santa Tecla in the district of A Guarda (Pontevedra) in Galicia is an excellent example, but there are many more.

In Galicia, special mention should be made of the Castro de Viladonga, in the village of Castro do Rei (some 30 kilometres from the city of Lugo). Next to the site there is an Archaeological Museum containing an exhibition with which to round off your visit. Amongst other interesting spots, you can also discover the hill forts of Baroña and Elvira, less than 65 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña), or those at San Cibrán de Lás and Castromao, just over 25 kilometres from Ourense.

These are just a few of the most emblematic places: to make sure you don't miss anything, a good idea is to make for the tourist offices where they will give you all the details. If you have time to spare, why not drop into one of the archaeological museums to be found in these provinces. At the museums in Pontevedra, Lugo, A Coruña and Ourense, you can see a range of objects and materials found in the different hill forts, with everything from ceramics and beautiful items of precious metal work to iron and copper tools. You can rest assured that in Spain, the ancient Celtic culture is never far away.

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