Cape Finisterre

Cape Finisterre

Cape Finisterre ( _gl. Cabo Fisterra) is a rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galicia, Spain. [ [ of Cape Finisterre, seen from the air, facing east] ]

Cape Finisterre is sometimes said to be the westernmost point of Spain. However, this is not correct, since other locations in Spain are farther west. Cape Finisterre is located at coord|42|52|57|N|9|16|20|W|display=inline. Cabo da Nave is about 5 kilometers northwest of Cape Finisterre, and is located at coord|42|55|18|N|9|17|53|W|display=inline. Punta Laxial on Cape Touriñán is about 20 kilometers north, and is even farther west, since it is located at coord|43|02|54|N|9|18|00|W|display=inline. This part of Spain is also not the westernmost point of Continental Europe. That honour belongs to Cabo da Roca in Portugal, which is about 16.5 km farther west. The name of Cape Finisterre, like that of Finistère in France, derives from the Latin name "Finisterrae", which literally means "Land's End".

Monte Facho is the name of the mountain on Cape Finisterre, which has a peak that is 238 meters above sea level. A prominent lighthouse is at the top of Monte Facho. The seaside town of Fisterra is nearby.


Cape Finisterra has some spectacular beaches, including O Rostro, Arnela, Mar de Fora, Langosteira, Riveira, and Corbeiro. Many of the beaches are framed by steep cliffs leading down to the "Mare Tenebrosum" (or dark sea, the name of the Atlantic in the Middle Ages).

There are several rocks in this area associated with religious legends, such as the "holy stones", the "stained wine stones", the "stone chair", and the tomb of the Celtic crone-goddess "Orcabella". [Orcabella is a Celtic goddess that takes the form of a hag and has a prodigious sexual appetite. Humans cannot hurt Orcabella; they only see her or feel her. Orcabella has many features that are similar to the Irish crone-goddess, "Cailleach Bhéirre" ( [ "LA MITOLOGÍA Y EL FOLKLORE DE GALICIA Y LAS REGIONES CÉLTICAS DEL NOROESTE EUROPEO ATLÁNTICO"] , Manuel ALBERRO, Inst. of Cornish Studies, University of Exeter)]


Cape Finisterre is the final destination for many pilgrims on the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Cape Finisterre is about a 90-km walk from Santiago de Compostela. It is a recent tradition for pilgrims to burn their clothes or boots at the end of their journey at Cape Finisterre.

The origin of the pilgrimage to Finisterre is not certain. However, it is believed to date from pre-Christian times and was possibly associated with Finisterre's status as the "edge of the world". The tradition continued in medieval times, when "hospitals" were established to cater to pilgrims along the route from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre.

Some pilgrims continue on to Muxia, which is a day's walk away.

Pre-Christian beliefs

In the area there are many pre-Christian beliefs and sacred locations. There was an "Altar Soli" on Cape Finisterre, where the Celts engaged in sun worship and assorted rituals. [ [ "Finisterre or The End of the World - Finisterre, Galicia, Spain"] , Arturo Conde, [ BootsnAll Travel Network] ] [ [ "Fisterra"] , [ Comunidade Virtual da Costa da Morte] ]

Greco-Roman historians called the local residents of Cape Finisterre the "Nerios". [ [ "History of Corcubion"] , [ Corcubion City Council's Website] ] Monte Facho was the place were the Celtic Nerios from Duio [Duio was formerly the location of the Nerios settlement and commercial center of Dugium, a town destroyed by a flood ( [ "Duio"] , [ Comunidade Virtual da Costa da Morte] ).] carried out their offerings and rites in honor of the sun. Monte Facho is the site of current archaeological investigations and there is evidence of habitation on Monte Facho circa 1000 BCE. [ [ "BELLAS TIERRAS CON PROFUNDAS RAICES EN LA HISTORIA"] , ARQUEOLOGÍA - CANGAS, vigo en fotos website] There is a Roman Road to the top of Monte Facho and the remnants of ancient structures on the mountain. [ [ Monte Facho] , Google Earth community website]

San Guillerme, also known as St. William of Penacorada, [ [ St. William of Penacorada] , [ Catholic online] Saints and Angels] lived in a house located on Monte Facho. Near San Guillerme's house is a stone now known as "St William's Stone" ("Pedra de San Guillerme"). Sterile couples used to copulate on St. William's Stone to try to conceive, following a Celtic rite of fertility.A picture of St. William's Stone can be seen on the webpage [ "Stoneland"] , Walk Around Galacia, Paralaia; Spanish and Galician for Foreigners]

Maritime history

Because it is a prominent landfall on the route from northern Europe to the Mediterranean, several nearby battles are named the "Battle of Cape Finisterre". The coast, known locally as the "Costa da Morte" (Death Coast), [ [ "Stricken oil tanker sinks"] , 19 November, 2002, BBC News] has been the site of numerous shipwrecks and founderings, including that of the British ironclad HMS "Captain", leading to the loss of nearly 500 lives, in 1870.

Additionally, laws governing the colonies of the British Empire (including the 1766 amendment to the Sugar Act of 1764) used the latitude of Cape Finisterre as the latitude past which certain goods could not be shipped north directly between British colonies. For instance, it was forbidden to ship sugar cane directly from Jamaica to Nova Scotia, as such a transaction crossed through this latitude. Instead, the laws required that the sugar cane be shipped first from Jamaica to England, where it would be re-exported to Nova Scotia.

Finisterre was the former name of the current FitzRoy area on the UK Shipping Forecast. The FitzRoy area was renamed in 2002 to avoid confusion with the Spanish Finisterre peninsula.


External links

* [ A 360 degree view from the Fisterra lighthouse]
* [ Picture Gallery of Fisterra]
* [ Faro de Finisterre] video of Monte Facho

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Battle of Cape Finisterre (1805) — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Cape Finisterre partof=the Napoleonic Wars caption= date=22 July 1805 place=Off Cape Finisterre casus= territory= result=British victory combatant1= combatant2= commander1=Robert Calder… …   Wikipedia

  • First battle of Cape Finisterre (1747) — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=First battle of Cape Finisterre partof=the War of the Austrian Succession caption= date=14 May 1747 place=Off Cape Finisterre result=British victory combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom|1606 Great Britain… …   Wikipedia

  • Second battle of Cape Finisterre (1747) — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Second battle of Cape Finisterre partof=the War of the Austrian Succession caption= date=25 October 1747 place=Off Cape Finisterre result=Decisive British victory combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom|1606 Great… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Cape Finisterre — Three naval battles fought between Britain and France near Cape Finisterre in northwest Spain are known as the battle of Cape Finisterre.* In the War of the Austrian Succession, the first battle of Cape Finisterre on 14 May 1747 was a victory for …   Wikipedia

  • Finisterre — may mean:The Atlantic* Cape Finisterre, the headland that is the westernmost point in Spain. * FitzRoy, a sea area on the United Kingdom Shipping Forecast formerly known as Finisterre which was renamed in 2002 to avoid confusion with the Spanish… …   Wikipedia

  • Finisterre — [fin΄is ter′] Cape promontory at the westernmost point of Spain …   English World dictionary

  • Finisterre,Cape — Fin·is·terre (fĭn ĭ stârʹ, fē nē stĕrʹrĕ), Cape A rocky promontory of extreme northwest Spain on the Atlantic Ocean. Off the cape the British won two naval victories over the French (1747 and 1805). * * * …   Universalium

  • Finisterre, Cape — geographical name cape NW Spain on coast of La Coruña province; westernmost point of Spanish mainland, at 9°18′W …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Finisterre — /fin euh stair /; Sp. /fee nees terdd rdde/, n. Cape, a headland in NW Spain: the westernmost point of Spain. * * * …   Universalium

  • Finisterre — /fɪnəsˈtɛə/ (say finuhs tair), /finisˈtɛrə/ (say feenees teruh) noun Cape, a headland in north western Spain; the westernmost point of Spain …   Australian English dictionary

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