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Cape Finisterre, Galicia, Spain

Cape Finisterre (Galician: Cabo Fisterra) is a rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galicia, Spain. Cape Finisterre is sometimes said to be the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. However, this is not true, since Cabo da Roca, in Portugal, actually the westernmost point of Continental Europe, is about 16.5 km farther west. The name of Cape Finisterre, like that of Finistère in France, 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 Fisterra is nearby. Cape Finisterre has some spectacular beaches, including O Rostro, Arnela, Mar de Fora, Langosteira, Riveira, andCorbeiro. Many of the beaches are framed by steep cliffs leading down to the Mare Tenebrosum (or dark sea, the name of the Atlantic 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.

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

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