Hidden Corners of Spain: San Andrés de Teixido
If you’ve ever wanted to visit a medieval and mystical village on top of cliffs overlooking the ocean, a visit to this hidden enclave of San Andrés de Teixido won’t disappoint. The town looks like something straight out of a fairy tale with its unique white and stone architecture.
Located northeast of La Coruña and Ferrol on a winding road along the coast, the trip to San Andrés de Teixido is worth it for the views of the ocean below. There are miradoiros, or overlooks, to stop and take pictures on the way. The stunning landscapes offer sweeping views of the Atlantic ocean juxtaposed with jagged cliffs and emerald-green hills. These cliffs, measuring 612 meters above sea level, are known as the tallest in Europe!
Vai de morto quen non foi de vivo.
There are references to San Andrés de Teixido dating back to the 12th century, so it’s been around a while. It’s said that pilgrims have been depositing stones at various spots around the town for centuries, and it’s still being done today. The piles of stones are called milladoiros. Pilgrims were headed to the church in San Andrés, which is a famous sanctuary. The popular saying about this church is vai de morto quen non foi de vivo which means “whoever doesn’t go there alive goes there dead” – meaning all souls pass through it.
That’s not all – San Andrés is full of legends and mysticism.
Want to make someone fall in love with you? Just pick some hierba de enamorar (love grass?) that grows here and put a piece in the pocket of the person you desire and the two of you will fall hopelessly in love.
Want to make your wishes come true? Drink from La Fuente de los Tres Caños (Fountain of the Three Pipes) – taking a drink from each of the three pipes. Then tell San Andrés your wish and throw a small crumb of bread into the water. If the bread floats, your wish will be granted, and supposedly you have good luck for a year. Not a bad insurance policy, right? Also, apparently the water from this fountain can cure diseases and it’s said that the source of the water is the altar in the church.
After all the hype of getting your wishes granted and your illnesses cured, there’s a sign warning that the water isn’t for drinking. That’s just because it comes directly from a spring and isn’t treated.
There are also stalls selling products oriented toward tourists. For a town this small, it’s surprising to see so many things to buy. The most typical products are called sanandreses – they’re little figures of bread baked without yeast in different shapes and painted in different colors: a hand, a fish, a boat, a saint, and “thought” – not sure how they make that last one. You can also buy bags of rosquillas, little donuts that are a little harder than your average American donut. Or you can buy a touristy t-shirt like these.
This tiny village is home to only around 50 inhabitants, many days receiving well over double that number in curious visitors. There are a handful of bars and restaurants, all well-reviewed, where you can eat freshly caught shellfish or local tapas like raxo (pork served over fries) and drink albariño, a Galician white wine. Fun fact: the cliffs below and the rocks out in the ocean are home to a spectacular number of percebes, or goose barnacles, and they’re difficult to harvest. The harvesters have to perch on the cliffs when the tide is at a specific point – it’s an incredibly dangerous job. That’s why percebes are among the most expensive foods in Spain!
Are you ready to make the trip to this stunning and legendary town? If you’re visiting Galicia, hopefully you’ve rented a car. Public transport isn’t the easiest way to get around unless you’re traveling between the larger cities. However, if you do take a bus, the closest bus station is in Cedeira. You could get a taxi from Cedeira which is around a 20-minute ride. Otherwise, if you do have access to a car, you can get there via local roads DP-2204 or AC-566.
You really shouldn’t miss this treasure if you’re visiting the north of Galicia!