Seafood from the ría
Speaking Spanish not GalicianAlthough the vast majority of people who live in Galicia can speak and understand the regional Galician language, in the biggest cities like A Coruña and Vigo, you’re much more likely to hear Castilian Spanish than Galician in the streets. For centuries galego was stigmatized as a lower, rural dialect; speakers were stereotyped as being country bumpkins and “civilized” urbanites stuck to standard castellano. During Franco’s dictatorship, it was even forbidden to speak Galician in public. Nevertheless, the Big City dwellers like Vigo-ites still cling to Spanish, an anomaly in this minority-language region.
Fast forward to the late 1400s, when Castilla was torn in a civil war between two claimants to the throne: Isabella and Juana “la Beltraneja.” Nobles from Vigo chose poorly in siding with Juana because Isabella eventually won (and went on to marry Ferdinand of Aragón, sponsor Columbus, etc.). To punish Vigo, she had all the olive trees cut down—but her troops couldn’t touch the olive tree in the church, which soon became a source of civic pride.
When the Church of Santa María was rebuilt in the Neoclassical style, this tree came down in the process. Thankfully, though, the mayor saved a cutting from this historic tree and replanted it in his house. Today you can see the descendant of the olive tree behind an iron fence along the Paseo de Alfonso XII.
|(Source: Anna Mayer)|
|(Source: Ministerio de Fomento)|
When you come visit, beware, as Google Maps and tourist maps have not been updated to show the new Vigo-Guixar train station. A temporary construction, it’s a plain concrete box that was put up near the northern coastal docks a couple years ago to allow authorities to start rebuilding Vigo-Urzáiz along the lines of a proper high-speed station. We’ll see how long that takes…
|Praia das Rodas|
Have you ever been to Vigo before? Do you think the real charm in Galicia lies in the big cities or the tiny villages? Comment below!
For more pictures, check out my album on Flickr here.