October 7th, early morning, well 9:00 or so, which is early in Spain!
In Santiago de Compostela we met Jessica, a long-time resident of the city, who sent us a list of must-see places in northern Spain.
This included the Playa de Catedrales which wasn’t even on our radar.
From Jessica: ‘You have to check the tides to know when to go because you cannot visit at high tide, and you want plenty of time to walk around.’
As soon as we arrived our landlady in Ribadeo informed us that the tide would be out at 10 the next morning, and that we should get to the beach by nine in order to truly appreciate these amazing rock formations.
It was quite easy to find, even though the road signs called it ‘Praia dos catedrais’, using the Galician language which is similar to, but different than Spanish.
What’s truly amazing was that all these rock formations were covered up during high tide.
These flying buttresses are the reason it is called the Playa de Catedrales (Beach of Cathedrals), and if the wind is whistling through the caverns the sound is said to resemble ghostly organ music.
A sign with the explanation about the tides and rock formations which have been cut into arches by the movement of the seas (las mareas).
Another view of the rock formations.
There were lots of photographers out there but few as prepared as these three.I wished there had been more time; half a dozen paintings were forming in my head. I could have spent the entire day there sketching except for the fact that the tide would come in and it’s hard to sketch when you’re underwater.
The striated rock formations are made of slate, which explains the slate roofs in the region…
The Playa de Catedrales (Beach of Cathedrals) is about 10 kilometres from Ribadeo where we stayed for two nights.
Apparently there is now a controversial booking system in place, requiring one to book two weeks in advance in order to visit this beach during Easter and the summer months.
Jessica, who provided our great route info, has since opened a Bakery Café in Santiago de Compostela called Lusco & Fusco. Sadly, in spite of being recognized by travel magazines such as Conde Nast, her Café did not survive COVID.