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Take A Peek At Celtic Spain – Olive Press News Spain




EVEN the Spanish look somewhat sceptical when I tell them I’m leaving the heat of Malaga for yet another trip to Galicia.

‘It’s wet and cold there,’ they say. Well it is true that Galicia is very different from the parts of Spain that most of us know but, to my mind, the benefits far outweigh the difference in climate.Since I first became an expatriate in Spain many years ago, I have been systematically working my way around the Iberian Peninsula. But for years I completely ignored the rugged north-west corner. Now it alarms and upsets me that I didn’t get to know it sooner.

Galicia boasts one the world’s holiest sites in Santiago de Compostela, has some of Spain’s most dramatically wild and rugged beaches and tremendous food and wine.

Now thanks to generous folk in Brussels it is remarkably easy to get there, and tourism has opened up for the region, from where former dictator General Franco heralded.

Atardecer En La Ensenada De San Andrés.
Sunset at the San Andrés inlet, Cedeira, A Coruña, Galicia. Photo: Adobe Stock

Even better the Galician authorities are hell bent on avoiding the appalling over-development that has ruined much of Andalucia. They are protecting a lot of their coastline and their ‘turismo rural’ programme gives you access, rather like the French gite system, to over 500 privately-run homes the length and breadth of the region.

It is a great way to get to meet the locals, the people best placed to advise you what to see and where to eat.

I start my four day trip in Barbanza, a couple of hours drive south of Santiago de Compostela. Here, the ‘Ria Arousa’, the tidal Arousa River, with its clean water, produces more mussels than anywhere else in the world.

It is only after I stop off to admire the view and take some photographs that I realise that the young man at Europcar hasn’t bothered to tell me that I need to have my clutch flat on the floor to re-start my Toyota Yaris.

The Casa Insuela is at Palmeira in the south of Barbanza. Run by Alejandro Gonzalez and his wife, Loli, it offers me the perfect base for a couple of nights. The view from my window across the mussel beds from their cliff-top home is breathtaking.

The Galicians are a totally different type of folk to their Moorish-influenced cousins from Andalucia. The Gallegans’ roots are more Celtic, their skin is pale and they are a lot less Latin in attitude and culture than their counterparts down south. (Yes, that means a lot less noisy!)

Nowhere is the Celtic heritage more visible than at the Hill-fort at Baroña. Yet this outstandingly well-preserved ancient settlement is easy to miss, with hardly any signposting from the coastal road.

Hill fort at Baroña

Delightfully, even in mid-summer, I am the sole visitor and the only sound is the roar of the Atlantic swell crashing against the rocks, the wind rustling through the trees and the piercing shriek of the seagulls.

Locals suggest a good luncheon spot; and again the venue is completely unsigned from the main road. It is an entirely Spanish clientele at what appears to be the only restaurant for miles around. We appreciate not only some excellent home-cooking, but at seven euros each including wine, it is a price almost as spectacular as the scenery.

Carregal and Vixan lagoons natural parkI spend the afternoon pottering about at the wonderful beach at the Carregal and Vixan lagoons natural park.

Again, I am almost the only person about, the vast beach stretching for mile after mile around the completely unspoiled and undeveloped bay. The Corrubedo sand dunes are unbelievably vast, deep enough, they say, to bury two-thirds of Santiago de Compostela’s famous cathedral

Throughout my first day, I have this strange feeling of being so terribly much at home. A feeling that I always get in Galicia. The landscape, the forests, the hills, the vast white sands. It feels so terribly much like western Scotland – but in the sunshine and without midges!

You only have to listen to Galician music, that of bands like Milladoiro or Carlos Nunez, to realise just how strong the Celtic roots of Gallegans are.

The journey north looks far on the map, but is covered, for the most part, by an almost deserted toll motorway. I am soon in San Sadurnino, almost within touching distance of the Biscay coast.

The journey north shows just how agricultural this part of Spain is, the countryside predominantly green, with plenty of tractors driving around.

Staying this far north (at Casa Outeiro, which has its own restaurant) allows exploration of the area between Cedeira and Cariño, where Europe’s highest cliffs are to be found. Stopping off en-route for coffee, we discover that the big news in the village is that a house has been bought ‘by an English family’. The gossip underlining just how few Brits have settled here.

The cliffs are most impressive. But the lack of decent signposts means it takes a lot of guesswork to find the road to take us there. On the plus side we have the road almost to ourselves and it’s easy to potter along at our own pace, stopping every few minutes when yet another stunning picture opportunity hoves into view.

Unusually for me, I have so far not mentioned much about the food. Galicia is often said to have some of the best cuisine in Spain and I have no reason to dispute that.

In Cariño, we eat in a locally-recommended restaurant, where presentation is easily matched by the quality of a top Michelin-starred joint, but with a fraction of the prices.

Ortigueira Galicia Spain Wikimedia Commons
Ortigueira port. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Less than an hour away is Ortigueira, which sells itself as ‘The Pearl of the High Rivers.’

Sensitively developed with a lot of pedestrianised areas and parkland, I muse what the atmosphere must be like when they hold their big Celtic music festival in July, when 100,000 people descend on the little town. So important is the Celtic music tradition, that there is even a statue of a bagpiper overlooking the port.

Driving back across the hills to our temporary home, we happen across the most enormous wind farm I have ever seen. Sails barely turning in the light breeze, I wonder just how bleak this perfect place becomes in the winter months of the Atlantic storms.

But, although my friends have warned me to bring my brolly and my jumper, neither has been unpacked and Galicia has, once again, worked its magic.



Spain’s Solicitor General Takes Legal Action Against Franco Family In Bid To Take Ownership Of Assets In Summer Home – Olive Press News Spain




SPAIN’S solicitor general’s office is taking legal action against the family of Francisco Franco in a bid to take ownership of 564 items that are currently inside the dictator’s former summer home, the Pazo de Meirás in Galicia. 

The manor house itself, which is located in A Coruña province, was the subject of  a long legal battle, which eventually saw a judge rule in September 2020 that the Franco family had to return it to the state. The ruling found that the property had been given to the general in his role as head of state after the Spanish Civil War (1936-39, and not in a personal capacity. 

The legal challenge began when it emerged in 2018 that the dictator’s grandchildren were trying to sell the palace for around €8 million, something that caused a public outcry at the time. 

After the ruling, the public were able to enter the Pazo for the first time in June 2021, for guided tours. But the Franco family continued to fight in the courts, and have appealed the ruling that saw them lose ownership of the property at the Supreme Court and also have been laying claim to its contents. 

In July, a court in A Coruña granted the state custody of the items contained inside the house. Some of these were acquired at the time it was occupied by Franco, while others were accumulated between then and his death in 1975. 

This latest lawsuit seeks to recover 564 items for the state, and has been filed by the solicitor general’s office in Madrid, which is where Franco’s relatives reside. The list includes items considered to be “national treasures.” 

The Franco family also mounted legal battles in the courts against the exhumation of the former dictator, which was approved by the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament. But in the end they were unsuccessful and his remains were transferred to a cemetery in Madrid on October 24, 2019. 


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Bienes culturales

El Estado Reclama A Los Herederos De Franco 564 Bienes Del Interior Del Pazo De Meirás



Un grupo de turistas visita el Pazo de Meirás, en una imagen de archivo.
Un grupo de turistas visita el Pazo de Meirás, en una imagen de archivo.ÓSCAR CORRAL

La Abogacía del Estado ha presentado una demanda contra los herederos de Franco por la que reclama 564 bienes muebles que se encuentran en el interior del Pazo de Meirás (Sada, A Coruña), residencia estival del dictador, cuya propiedad recuperó el Estado en 2020 en los tribunales —está pendiente un recurso ante el Supremo—. El listado incluye elementos que el Gobierno considera que son bienes de Patrimonio Nacional (2), de Patrimonio Documental (409) y de dominio público (153) “por su interés histórico o artístico”. La demanda, de 230 páginas, solicita, además, medidas cautelares para que se acuerde la permanencia de esos bienes dentro del Pazo y en depósito de la Administración hasta que el juzgado resuelva sobre su propiedad.

El pasado julio, un juzgado de A Coruña ya concedió al Estado la custodia de bienes del Pazo de Meirás que estaban en litigio entre los herederos del dictador, el Estado, la Xunta de Galicia y los ayuntamientos de A Coruña y Sada. A finales de 2020, los técnicos de la Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural de la Consellería de Cultura, Educación y Universidad de la Xunta presentaron un inventario de 697 objetos, de los que los Franco reclamaron inicialmente 55. Luego renunciaron a cinco, pero pidieron permiso para llevarse otros 500 bienes. El Estado no se fía de los herederos del dictador, por eso ha pedido medidas cautelares sobre los ya inventariados y ha añadido otros que en su día no habían sido incluidos ante “las reiteradas negativas de los demandados a facilitar el acceso al interior del edificio a distintos técnicos” para documentar debidamente qué había dentro.

Algunos de estos bienes se adquirieron junto al Pazo de Meirás en 1938. Otros se introdujeron en el inmueble entre esa fecha y 1975, año de la muerte del dictador. Explica la Abogacía del Estado que, “al igual que el bien inmueble del Pazo de Meirás que los contiene ha sido declarado como bien de dominio público por ser un bien adscrito exclusivamente al servicio público de cubrir las necesidades de residencia de verano del jefe del Estado, los bienes muebles que existían en su interior durante ese periodo temporal (1938-1975) quedaron afectos al mencionado servicio público, lo que determinó la adquisición, al menos por usucapión, de su condición de bienes de dominio público adscritos a un servicio del Estado”. Añade la demanda que, junto a esos bienes, existen otros “sujetos a una legislación especial” que permite que sean declarados ” de dominio público”.

La Abogacía del Estado, que describe el Pazo de Meirás como “lugar de memoria”, incorpora al escrito los informes periciales para la identificación concreta de los bienes reclamados con una descripción detallada y las “distintas referencias gráficas, literarias…” que permiten acreditar su incorporación o presencia en el inmueble durante el periodo de tiempo en el que fue residencia de verano del dictador. Se trata de una mesa vitrina de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX que formó parte de la decoración de la Sala de Música de la reina Victoria Eugenia en el Palacio Real de Madrid; piezas de madera tallada y dorada al agua del siglo XVIII (ambas Patrimonio Nacional, según el Estado) y numerosos libros y documentación hallados en la biblioteca y el despacho personal de Franco en el Pazo. El listado incluye textos propios de la burocracia de la dictadura, así como cartas en las que distintos organismos y personalidades alaban al dictador o le piden recursos para distintas actividades. Pero también agendas personales de Franco con anotaciones sobre reuniones, documentos reservados sobre la resistencia, listados de militares que manifestaron su adhesión a lo que llaman “guerra de liberación” (la Guerra Civil), fotografías de Franco en el frente, informes políticos, como el que versa ”sobre la posible asociación de España al Mercado Común”, fechado en 1962, o incluso un “proyecto de reforma sobre el nuevo estadio del Real Madrid”.

También añade un listado de bienes sobre los que la demanda no formula pretensión de dominio. Se trata de las esculturas del Maestro Mateo —que ya reclama el Ayuntamiento de Santiago de Compostela— o los cerca de 3.200 volúmenes de la biblioteca de Emilia Pardo Bazán que aún permanecen en el pazo —se ha incoado el procedimiento para declararlos bien de interés cultural conforme a una resolución de la Xunta de noviembre de 2020—. La Abogacía del Estado solicita en la demanda que se dé traslado de su presentación tanto al Gobierno gallego como al Ayuntamiento de Sada.

En enero de 2021, expertos del Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio del CSIC documentaron cómo dejaron los herederos del dictador el emblema del expolio franquista. “La huella de Franco está por todas partes”, relató a EL PAÍS el director de los trabajos, Alfredo González Ruibal. “Hay media docena de retratos suyos por las paredes, incluido el célebre de Zuloaga, un busto suyo… Todo el espacio ha sido adaptado a los gustos de Franco”. La célebre biblioteca de Emilia Pardo Bazán, con más de 3.000 ejemplares, añadía, “está totalmente distorsionada”, sepultada por volúmenes correspondientes al periodo franquista.

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Los Franco pretenden batallar hasta el final para tratar de mantener la propiedad del pazo y de sus bienes. De hecho, presentaron hasta una querella criminal contra la autora de uno de los informes sobre el pazo, que fue archivada. A su juicio, el contexto de represión en el que se habían producido las expropiaciones y la colecta popular para regalar el inmueble a Franco eran “irrelevantes”. Fue ese mismo contexto, el de la represión, el que permitió al dictador hacerse rico. En 1935, Franco cobraba una nómina de 2.429, 98 pesetas (unos 5.300 euros de hoy) como jefe del Estado Mayor. En 1940 disponía del equivalente a 388 millones actuales en sus cuentas. Hasta la Guerra Civil solo tenía su sueldo de militar y la herencia de su mujer. Todo eso se convirtió, con el tiempo, durante la dictadura, “en una riqueza espectacular” en palabras del historiador Paul Preston.

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Flying Comeback: UK Conservation Without Borders: Missing Osprey Lands On Galicia Beach Near A Coruña – Olive Press News Spain




A CLOSELY monitored Osprey has surprised its trackers and landed on the shores of Spain after it vanished out at sea for more than two days. 

Its sudden appearance on the shores of Galicia triggered many questions from UK group Conservation Without Borders, who were tracking the bird´s route since it left the tip of Cornwall on September 10. 

The large bird of prey, named Glen, was presumed dead until it then appeared on a small outcrop of rock off the tip of Galicia in northwest Spain after it went off radar for an “unusually long time”. 

Osprey Conservation Without Borders (2)
Glen the Osprey landed off Galicia after conservationists lost track of the bird for more than two days. Photo: Conservation Without Borders

Conservation Without Borders chief executive and United Nation Convention of Migratory Species ambassador Sacha Dench said she was surprised to see the alert, but was “even more shocked” after discovering how Glen made it to land. 

“Glen took off in a pretty strong head wind coming from the north west so after two days we thought he probably didn’t stand a chance,” she told The Olive Press. 

“But then at 10pm on September 13 we got a ping from him and on the radar you will notice there are many straight lines and an exact 90 degree angle”. 

Osprey Route Conservation Without Borders
An animation from a ship tracking website showed the Osprey´s route at sea as it hitched a ride on two vessels. Photo: Conservation Without Borders

Dench said Glen had first been blown off course, and the exhausted bird then spotted a fishing vessel to land on. 

Glen then swapped over to a large shipping container when it realised it was headed in the wrong direction, before eventually taking flight and discovering land, and most likely delicious seafood in Galicia. 

Conservation Without Borders started the Flight of the Osprey expedition this year, tracking the movements of Ospreys as they make their annual migration south from the UK to west Africa.


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