Cape Finisterre, or Cabo Fisterra in Galician, meaning the end of the earth, was once thought to be the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. We now know that Portugal's Cabo da Roca, 16.5 kilometers west, is farther west, making it the westernmost point in continental Europe.
But the Spaniards weren't far off the mark.
It does look like the end of the world.
And until the discovery of the Americas, it was.
According to legend, this area was known for Celtic pagan rituals involving Ara Solis, an altar used for sun worship, until St. James, the Christian Apostle, worked to rid the site of pagan activity. He even built a church nearby, but this chapel no longer exists.
The lighthouse, or faro, that sits atop Monte Facho, on Finisterre, was built in 1853, and it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Galicia, mainly due to the popularity of the Camino de Santiago over time.
The lighthouse sits 238 meters (almost 781 ft.) above sea level and has a torch that reaches 30 nautical miles. The octagonal tower is made of stone. A siren was added in 1888 because of the constant winter (and sometimes summer) fog.
Finisterre, in the province of La Coruña, is located on Spain's Costa de Morte, or Death Coast, so named because of the treacherous coast line that has taken more than its share of ships to their watery graves on the bottom of the Atlantic.
At the pilgrim monument heading up to the lighthouse
Today, it is a popular final stop for pilgrims who have walked the Camino de Santiago.
A Camino de Santiago marker, with the sign of St. James...a scallop shell.
Following the completion of their Camino and arrival in Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims walk (or ride) the final 85-90 kilometers (about 50 miles) to Finisterre. Many pilgrims burn their old clothes or their boots, signifying a fresh start following their spiritual journey.
The bronzed boot monument of the Pilgrim
Ashes of journeys passed
At the cruceiro near the water's edge, pilgrims place stones, photos, notes, clothing patches, and other mementos from their journey. It may be left in memory of someone special, in penance for a past transgression, in honor of the experience of the Camino or lessons learned along the way.
The cruceiro takes on an altar-like persona....sacred ground that speaks to the power of the Way.
The scallop shell...the symbol of Saint James and the Camino de Santiago
There are many rocky perches for contemplation, dolphin watching, or watching the sun set.
Other pilgrims continue on to Muxia, another 30 kilometers (about 18 miles), as seen in the film, The Way.
Finisterre is a crowd pleaser and well worth the trip.
Walk around and enjoy the views. When you consider your own journey, think about what you might leave at the end of the world.