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Cape Finisterre ( ) is a rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galiciamarker, Spainmarker.

Cape Finisterre is sometimes said to be the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. However, this is not correct, since other locations are farther west. Cape Finisterre is located at
. Cabo da Nave is about 5 kilometers northwest of Cape Finisterre, and is located at  . Punta Laxial on Cape Touriñán is about 20 kilometers north, and is even farther west, since it is located at  . This part of Spain is also not the westernmost point of  Continental Europe. That honour belongs to Cabo da Rocamarker in Portugalmarker, which is about 16.5 km farther west. The name of Cape Finisterre, like that of Finistèremarker in Francemarker, 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 Fisterramarker is nearby.

Geography

Finisterre on the Atlantic coast of Galicia


Cape Finisterre 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 Atlanticmarker 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.

Pilgrimage

Cape Finisterre is the final destination for many pilgrims on the Way of St. Jamesmarker, the pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostelamarker. Cape Finisterre is about a 90-km walk from Santiago de Compostelamarker. 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 Muxiamarker, which is a day's walk away.

Image:Camiño de Santiago, Fisterra.jpg|Camino de Santiagomarker, FisterraImage:Pilgrim's Boot - Finisterre - Galicia.jpg|Pilgrim's boot in FisterraImage:Fisterra.JPG|Fisterra lighthouseImage:FinisterraGalicia_3460.jpg|Fisterra lighthouse


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.

Greco-Roman historians called the local residents of Cape Finisterre the "Nerios". Monte Facho was the place were the Celtic Nerios from Duio 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. There is a Roman Road to the top of Monte Facho and the remnants of ancient structures on the mountain.

San Guillerme, also known as St. William of Penacoradamarker, 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.

Maritime history

Because it is a prominent landfall on the route from northern Europe to the Mediterraneanmarker, several nearby battles are named the "Battle of Cape Finisterre". The coast, known locally as the Costa da Morte (Death Coast), has been the site of numerous shipwrecks and founderings, including that of the Britishmarker 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 Jamaicamarker to Nova Scotiamarker, as such a transaction crossed through this latitude. Instead, the laws required that the sugar cane beshipped 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 UKmarker Shipping Forecast. The FitzRoy area was renamed in 2002 to avoid confusion with the Spanish Finisterre peninsula.

References

  1. Photograph of Cape Finisterre, seen from the air, facing east
  2. 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)
  3. Finisterre or The End of the World - Finisterre, Galicia, Spain, Arturo Conde, BootsnAll Travel Network
  4. Fisterra, Comunidade Virtual da Costa da Morte
  5. History of Corcubion, Corcubion City Council's Website
  6. 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).
  7. BELLAS TIERRAS CON PROFUNDAS RAICES EN LA HISTORIA, ARQUEOLOGÍA - CANGAS, vigo en fotos website
  8. Monte Facho, Google Earth community website
  9. St. William of Penacorada, Catholic online Saints and Angels
  10. A picture of St. William's Stone can be seen on the webpage Stoneland, Walk Around Galacia, Paralaia; Spanish and Galician for Foreigners
  11. Stricken oil tanker sinks, 19 November, 2002, BBC News


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