Torres do Oeste is a defensive enclosure located at the head of the Rio de Arousa in the Caldas region of Galicia. Located on a rocky promontory on the banks of the river Ulla and surrounded by marshland, it used to serve as a strategic defense post against Viking attacks.
King Alfonso III of Leon ordered the built of the castle in the 9th century so the river Ulla could be protected from attacks. Where the river Ulla was an important natural entry into Galicia, the castle went through strengthening works.
The 2 remaining Pre-Roman style towers are from the 9th Century. In the 12th Century, bishops ordered the strengthening of the castle in order to protect the holy site of Santiago de Compostela.
Located nearby Torres do Oeste is the Torres do Oeste cultural centre which is housed in a modern building designed by the award-winning architect Cesar Portela.
The ground floor houses a tourist office and a spacious exhibition hall designed like a Viking longship. The exhibition tells the history of the towers, Viking attacks in Galicia,... Many artefacts are on display in the exhibition, ranging from swords to statues to armour,....
Within the basement is an audiovisual room where they screen videos of the annual Viking Festival of Catroina.
The Viking Festival of Catoira is an annual festival which has been celebrated every first Sunday in August since 1961. It is held to commemorate Catoira's role in defending against the Vikings who were trying to plunder the treasure held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. During the festival, they re-enact the Viking invasions that took place using 3 replica longboats.
These longboats are moored nearby the Torres do Oeste and are fairly reliable reproductions based on longboats that are kept in museums in Denmark and Norway.
Where Catroina is off the beaten path and not frequently visited by tourists, it is worthwhile taking the detour .
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield