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Rías de Muros Noia: The Way of the Sea

Texts and photos: Guillermo Cachero

The sea was the one who carried the rest of the apostle  to Compostela, later in the 12th century it was the Crusaders who approached the Saint by sea so that he would protect them in their fight in Jerusalem. Is by  both the sea the first path of FE. And to recover that "way"  the new proposal is born  THE MARITIME WAY  FROM THE RIA DE MUROS NOIA , an experience to reach the apostle on a sailboat. ideal for meditating in the ocean and connecting with marine flora and fauna  of the Cíes Island archipelago in   the Atlantic Islands of Galicia, and discover medieval cities in the middle of the estuary, such as Muros and Noia, among others. 

During  From the 12th to the 16th century, this was the route used by the English, Germans, Flemish and those who came from Scandinavian countries, such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland or Iceland. It all begins when a fleet of English, German and Flemish were on a crusade to the Holy Land and part of it was diverted to Portugal to help the king of this country to conquer Lisbon. Being a country close to  Santiago de Compostela decided  reach the Apostle to ask for help in his purpose. Its completion by the English came when King Henry VIII, had his break with the Catholic Church, due to his divorce with Catherine of Aragon - origin of the Church of England and Anglicanism -, caused the end of the English pilgrimage and condemned ostracized this route for centuries.

A route that for those Catholic believers who came from those distant lands, reduced the pilgrimage to about three weeks, round trip, compared to the nearly five months that the journey lasted for those who crossed France and the Pyrenees on foot, with the danger of roads infested with thugs and thieves of all stripes.

Currently to honor those first  pilgrims who came from distant countries, " THE MARITIME WAY  FROM THE RIA DE MUROS NOIA ".  A path that the Cathedral Chapter of Santiago  declared official on December 15, 2020, after a three-year investigation, during which cartography and historical documentation were reviewed to be recognized as a Jacobean route on equal terms with land roads  As the   French, Portuguese, English, North etc., and   receive the "compostela", a diploma that  recognizes that the path has been made, for this  You must do 90 miles by sea by sailboat and 10 kilometers by land.  and the route  THE MARITIME WAY  FROM THE RIA DE MUROS NOIA ,  fully complies with it.  

To justify the journey, each pilgrim is given a passport at the beginning of the route.  what should  go sealing  in any commercial establishment of the route and it must contain your name, DNI and the start date, and next to the stamp the date of the same.  


THE MARITIME WAY  FROM THE RIA DE MUROS NOIA,  starts in Vigo and takes us to Portosin on a company sailboat  Sailway , which can be rented with  or no pattern. A trip that runs through the Ría de Muros Noia  visiting   the Cíes Islands, Pedras Negras, San Vicente do Mar or Grove,  San Francisco Bay, Muros, Noia and  Portosin and already by land from  Betamirans until  the city of the Apostle.  On each arrival at port  the islands and towns are visited making the "way"  besides maritime  be terrestrial for   know the beauty of its beaches and medieval cities and enjoy the  excellent Galician gastronomy.  

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It is a path to enjoy a maritime journey with beautiful views of the cities that border the estuary such as Cangas and Moañas.  and the wonderful Atlantic Islands of Galicia; the three islands that make up the Cíes archipelago;  San Martiño Island, Faro Island and Monteagudo Island.  Y  the  islands of  Ons, Salvora and Cortegada.

true  natural paradises   with beaches of crystalline turquoise waters, which are a Natural Heritage, already praised by the Romans as   islands of the gods   And no wonder she was chosen by  gods because few gather the beauty of its beaches. A  attraction not only   of gods and humans since due  to the water circulation  that enter and leave the estuary to which fresh water is added favors the concentration of microorganisms, constituting a food source for all marine species,  and it is not uncommon to see how they approach its waters  dolphins, whales and seals.

Permanently live in its waters  lobsters, spider crabs, octopus, barnacles, mussels, sea urchins, sole and turbot among other marine species, with a varied vegetation. It's one of the  rich ecosystem  submarine off the Galician coast. 


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Faro Island or  medium  It has ended up joined to the North Island by an accumulation of sand in the inner part of the archipelago.  On the eastern side of the islands, there is Rodas beach, Laguna dos Nenos and  the crossed bridge that crosses that lagoon that brings us closer to the end of the island and where the Cíes campsite and the park's Nature Interpretation Center are located.  When climbing the  tide , the water passes between the two islands on the west side and, blocked by the beach, the lagoon formed between the sand and the rocks is filled and the lagoon is formed.  It is wonderful to watch the breaking of the waves  against the rocks and how the water penetrates through some holes towards the lake. .  

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The shag is one of the  most abundant seabirds on the island, a species that is in danger of extinction, this national park is home to most of this bird  in Spain. A bird that develops with greater mastery in the marine environment than the seagull. Around 1,500 pairs breed annually in the Cíes, which is one of the largest concentrations in Europe.

They are usually seen perched on rocks or flying at sea level, swimming or diving. The shags are an example of adaptation to the marine environment, and are designed to function freely underwater, and thus capture small fish that serve as food.

And it's not exactly   the shag the most abundant bird. The Cíes Islands archipelago is a privileged place to nest,  and the seagull is the queen of the islands since it has  more than 22,000 copies, it is  the place in the world where they constitute the largest concentration  of this species.

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After visiting the islands we continue sailing to the port of San Vicente do Mar where you can sleep  on the sailboat or in a hotel, it depends on the contracting of the route.  The greatness of this new "path" is to be able to enjoy the adventure of the sea and  of the towns that make up the regions of Muros and Noia, we must not forget that we are on the route of the Rías Baixas  of Galicia, which has an extraordinary natural wealth,  paradisiacal beaches and a succulent and varied cuisine where products from the sea are the main base.  

We start our land route  in San Vicente do Mar, which belongs to the municipality of O Grove, a peninsula known for the richness of its waters in shellfish and fresh fish, and for the island of La Toja. And the goal is to walk the wooden path of Pedras  black  about 8 kilometers long between immense rocks, although it can be visited at any time of the day, during sunrise if we are lucky enough to  On a clear day, a pale blue sky of great beauty is observed,  Although its great splendor is at sunset  when  the sun hides in Savora Island  and the horizon  I know  dye colors  oranges, yellows and reds.  


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Back on the Sailboat we continue the route, departing from the Port of San Vicente do Mar towards the Bay of San Francisco through the Ría de  Muros Noia and even Muros. 

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At the entrance of the Muros y Noia estuary, the majesty  of the mythical Monte Louro on the beach of Area Maior  (Area Mayor) and the Xalfas lagoon continues  captivating. Galicia overflows with beauty in its many white sand beaches and crystal clear waters where the finger of God has drawn beautiful landscapes. 


The arrival at the port of  walls  It does not detract from the places we have visited so far. Muros is a seaside town where fishing and shellfishing have been the source of income since the 10th century.  In it  In the 19th century, Catalan businessmen arrived in the village, creating more than thirty salting factories, especially sardines and herring,  being  the main livelihood of the village.   Even today, the fishing sector is still powerful, and its port, in addition to being a sailor, is a seaport that attracts yachts and sailboats with great nautical tourism.  


A port that was not only chosen as an entrance by those who made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, it was also chosen by pirates  Normans and Muslims and not precisely to go on pilgrimage, so the archbishopric  beginning of the 16th century built a  wall of which remains can still be seen in its streets and squares.  

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The sea has formed and  It is part of the life of this seafaring city  of narrow streets  baptized with names as original as the street of suffering, bitterness, health, loneliness, hope, patience  etc. A city of noble and typical houses  marine dwellings  one or two stories with balconies and  low with arcades where the men fixed the fishing gear while the women salted and washed the fish. Its historic center was considered in May 1970  Historical-Artistic Ensemble,  for the conservation of its typical seafaring houses and its palaces  Gothic and temples such as the former collegiate church and the hermitage of the Virgen el Camino.

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Praza do Concello (Town Hall Square) Also known as Curro da Praza, it was where the "touradas" bullfights were held.

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The Cruceiros in Galicia are part of its identity, it is said that  It has approximately 10,000.  In Muros there are several that we can find in front of the churches on paths and in squares, such as the Plaza del Cristo with an 18th century stone cross. This small square, formerly known as Plaza de la Leña, embellishes  its center a cross  cylindrical with knots or thorns, and four heads of angels on its sides and in the corners  fronts and other contours, beautiful ornaments and foliage. On one side is the image of the Redeemer and on the other the Virgen de los Dolores. On  a pedestal where   rest  on a capital.  

The meaning of these crosses is very varied, some say that they are usually erected as a memory of a deceased by  wealthy families to remember a relative, others to ask forgiveness for the sins committed, others to  guide and give divine protection   to the pilgrims,  for diseases and  robberies  a frequent danger   of those who undertake the Camino de Santiago   until almost the end of the 20th century.  

Another of its squares with great significance is the Plaza de la Pescadería Vieja, where fish was distributed in the past, from which the fountain of the lizard has remained, in which the year of its construction can be seen in Roman numerals.  The square is currently  converted into a leisure space to enjoy the excellent Galician cuisine and drink wines and tapas in the many still lifes and taverns located in the arcades of the old houses located here.  


the Plaza del Mercado (formerly Plaza Mayor) with the supply market  a monumental stonework building and its peculiar double staircase. 


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Parish Church of  Saint Peter of Walls 

On a primitive Roman-style church from the 12th century, of which only the main portal remains. This church was converted in the early 16th century  in a collegiate church thanks to the Catholic Monarchs and the Pope.

In the Mariñeiro Gothic style, there are several styles that it contains as a result of the renovations that have been carried out over time, the  tower and porch  Dating from the 17th century, they are baroque in style and were made by the Guild of the Sea.  

Its interior is a single nave with wide arches that leads to the altar. And the big surprise is found in its holy water font, with a  large carved serpent coiled in a spiral. An allegory of the triumph of good over evil by being purified  For the water. 

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Pozo de Cachón Tidal Mill

The last visit in Muros is for  The Muíño de Maré do Pozo de Cachón, an old mill built in the first third of the 9th century and that took advantage of the energy of the tides to grind cereal, mainly corn. This type of mills dammed the water with the rising tides and at low tide it was channeled towards its wheels, which when turning activated the millstones, this type of construction was quite common in countries like Ireland and the Netherlands  and in Galicia  in some populations. In Muros it was built at the beginning of the 19th century and is  one of the largest and most important in Europe.  

In addition to having a milling history, the building was converted in the 20th century into a bathhouse, the Santa Rita baths, specialized in curing rheumatic diseases based on warm seawater and algae treatments. After several owners and uses, the mill was restored by the City Council of Muros and houses the Interpretation Center da Ruta dos Muíños da Costa da Morte, (Route of the mills of the Coast of Death) where constructions that were part of the history of the area. The interpretation center is divided into two distinct parts: the area dedicated to the mill and the institution's headquarters, and the warehouse-bathhouse, which is now used as an exhibition hall.


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We undertake the last journey by sea from Muros to Portosin.  On the crossing of the Rías Muros Noia  I know  observe the Island of A Creba. An island that has been privately owned since 1966.  

much changed  thanks to the work of repopulation and care of the pines, since in its purchase it was only a promontory of stubble and stones.  The island seen from the sea looks splendid with the house surrounded by pine trees. 

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Once rested in Portosin  It is essential to visit Noia to visit the Church of San Martiño de Noia in its Plaza de Taral.  

The square, in addition to the church, completes it  terraces of restaurants and bars on its sides and  a cross in the middle of it.  

The church was consecrated in the Holy year of 1434, so  It appears in the lower part of the lintel of the main door.  gothic style  mariñeiro was built there  where previously there was  a hermitage in honor of the Virgin Mary. 

It looks like a Fortress and the two towers that flank it on its main entrance  They communicate by a coastal path.  

The main portal is inspired by the portico  of the Glory of Santiago de Compostela, the tympanum  It contains a coat of arms of Castilla y León flanked by the arms of Archbishop Mendoza, promoter of the Temple. 

As can be seen from the two towers, one is unfinished and according to the account there is a black legend about its completion. This local legend   He says that whoever tries to finish that second tower will have a tragic end.  An  tragic end  that the master stonemason had who, in his time, was trying to finish that second tower.

Real or not, legend or superstition  the truth is that in 1973 an unfortunate and unfortunate accident occurred, when a film entitled "Hell's Bell" was being shot and for the filming it was built  the part of that tower in papier-mâché,  that way they would appear in the movie  the two bell towers And almost once the film was finished, in one last shot, its director Claudio Guerin climbed up to the tower to place the camera there and in his attempt, he stumbled and fell to the ground in the square, dying on the spot. On the ground of the square there is a red cross painted in the place where he fell  the unfortunate director.  

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Its cover is framed by three archivolts supported by three pairs of columns decorated with beasts and human figures. The capitals with plant motifs.  

On the left side of the exterior arch appears an image of the pregnant Virgin and opposite on the right the Archangel Saint Gabriel.  

At the top the figure of Christ  and the twelve elders of the Apocalypse with their instruments arranged radially.  

The rosette is  flanked by four angels with trumpets to the 4 winds in the classic apocalyptic vision of the final judgment. 

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Here you can see the image of the pregnant Virgin. 

Church of Santa Maria la Nueva -  Museum of Guild Tombstones

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Santa María A Nova, is a Mariñeiro-style Gothic church,  converted into a museum, which houses the most important set of tombstones in Europe: there are more than 500 tombstones from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries of great quality and very well preserved that are exhibited inside the church.

Called "A Nova" as it was built on a Romanesque church, it dates from 1327, according to an inscription in Galician on the lintel of the door. In the Gothic-Mariñeiro style with Romanesque reminiscences, the neoclassical porch from 1817 stands out under the Gothic rose window. The tympanum represents the Adoration of the Magi who can be considered the first pilgrims: they were the first to visit a holy place. The kings are placed to the right of the Virgin and the child Jesus. 

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The museum contains tombstones with engraved inscriptions  that refer to the  guilds, where the silhouette and work instruments of the deceased can be seen; shoemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, sailors, butcher etc.  Family marks, heraldic motifs and human figures. The most famous is the misnamed Pilgrim's Tombstone. It represents a figure with clothing similar to that of the pilgrim, but the book in his hand and the work instruments in the lower part indicate that it would be a brother, a carpenter, his tunic, which reaches to his feet, it is adorned with scallop shells; the latter together with the cane, or staff, in his right hand led many to think that he was a pilgrim.

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The baptismal font of the fifteenth century. It represents a character from the front with a cross in his hand. On the column what appears to be the Virgin with the Child and a snake below.

Located in front of the baptismal font  there is a sarcophagus of a tavern keeper from the 14th century, Ioan de Estivadas.  Originally buried in the Church of San Martiño.  

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Inside, the best preserved,  Although most  are crowded out in the open at the rear of the church where the  the old cemetery. A very well preserved cemetery and where  most of the tombs are on the ground, it contains two stone crosses, one of them with a canopy   it is a unique case in Galicia along with that of Trinidad  in Bayonne and dates from the 16th century.  

For years it was a tradition to celebrate country parties in the cemetery, eating in many cases on the tombs: in the resting place of their ancestors and in which they would rest. A celebration similar to the one that takes place in many towns in Mexico  to honor the dead,  that dates back to the pre-Hispanic era and that after the arrival of the Spanish was mixed with the Catholic festivities of the faithful departed.

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continuing  the way  a bridge  about him  Tamber river of medieval origin  It serves as a crossroads between the councils of Outes and Noia: Known as the Ponte Nafonso bridge (Alfonso bridge), it has 12 centuries of history in Galicia. 

A bridge  with a width of 4.5 meters that does not meet the conditions for the transit of goods at the present time. And for years the transit of merchandise was due to be transported by boats on the river.   


Currently, a new 12-meter-wide expressway bridge has been built that has managed to reduce the distance between Noia and Outes by more than four kilometers, while substantially improving communication between Muros and Santiago. ​ The construction of a large bridge to unite the two regions historically separated by the estuary and by a large river was very necessary, although it was not widely accepted due to the deterioration of the landscape. Galicians love the landscape that nature has given them and for them it is very important to respect and conserve the natural heritage and biodiversity, as well as adopt whatever preventive measures are necessary to guarantee its sustainable use and enjoyment of the natural environment. It should not be forgotten that the Tambre Estuary belongs to the Natura 2000 Network, a place of great ecological value.

Monastery of San Xusto de  Toxosoutos 


This monastery is located 1 km away from Noia at the foot of the San Xusto River, a tributary of the Sóñora or Traba that flows into the Ría de Noia. Semi hidden which is accessed after a long staircase down from the road. 

The foundation of the monastery dates back to the 12th century and is due to two knights;  Froylán Alonso and Pedro Muñiz de Carnota who withdraw from the  military life and decide to take refuge in the monastic life in the Benedictine rule.

Over time the monastery grew in possessions  becoming one of the richest in Galicia, which made it necessary to form priories to take care of the administration.  

From the fourteenth century the monastery was declining due to noble and ecclesiastical pressures that sighed for the riches of Toxosoutos.

in 1504  it was annexed to the Monastery of Sobrado dos Monxes and passed to the Cistercian order. His remaining possessions went on to swell the riches of the Sobrado monastery. Centuries later, the French invasion and the famous confiscation of Mendizabal in 1835 led the monastery to abandonment.

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Currently it is a place to enjoy nature, where  The figure of the sober Baroque parish church from the 18th century stands out, with a large tower attached to the left of the façade. And to be able to enjoy the waterfalls of the San Xusto River.  



We continue our journey with the hope of arriving in Santiago before 6 in the afternoon, closing time for the  Pilgrim Service Office  to present the stamped Passport to obtain the "Compostela". We arrived at Bertamiráns where we stopped to eat and already with our sights set on the last eleven  kilometers that we lack to complete the entire path on foot.  

Once you have set foot in Santiago and obtained the "compostela", in front of the Cathedral happiness arrives and at the same time the sadness of having finished a "road" where you have left behind a spectacular voyage on a sailboat,  a new experience  extraordinary for those of us who love the sea.

Carrying out the Jacobean path can be an act of faith, for those who are religious, although at present it is not only religiosity that moves those who wish  reach the city of the Apostle. The WAY is also a way of examining one's conscience and for this it is not necessary to be a believer or a religious. It is a way to get out of disconnecting from a stressful life that in current times is very common and that men and women suffer in their daily work.


The "WAY" can be done on foot, by bicycle, on horseback  by car and now in  sailboat. There are many varieties that invite us to make a CAMINO DE SANTIAGO that should serve us to regenerate the mind.  Walking slowly, covering every inch of land, leaving a mark on the ground,  breathing  fresh air and regenerating the senses with the aroma of flowers, wet land and sea.


Get on a sailboat in the greatness of the sea and contemplate the coast  makes us think about reaching places of great beauty such as the Cíes Island, visiting cities  to enrich us with its monuments, churches, squares and streets and absorb the beauty of the places that make up the ROAD. And make us wiser  with the people we meet along the way  by enriching us with their lived experiences.


It is not necessary to travel 500 kilometers or 300, we have many variants of the ROAD where you can enjoy beautiful towns and  visit, churches, monasteries, cathedrals, chapels,  forests, rivers and ancient bridges. Beaches and landscapes of great beauty and of course, enjoy the world-famous Galician cuisine.  A trip that is highly recommended.  

If you are interested in this  experience you can inform yourself HERE

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