CÍES ISLANDS

HISTORY

Cíes Islands: from Prehistory to the Contemporary.

» Prehistory

The Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic men were on Cíes Islands, but there was not a settlement as such until the Bronze Age.
From this period, tools have been found which can be attributed to the Mesolithic period (c. 10,000 years ago), but traces of later prehistoric periods (Neolithic and Chalcolithic) have not been found yet. From the Bronze Age, the fortified Iron Age settlement of “As Hortas”, located on the western slope of Monte Faro, stands out. There are references to structures in Alto da Campá, which are yet to be verified.

“As Hortas” is a fortified Iron Age and Roman settlement, classed as such due to the structures and remains found. This place has a series of natural shelters, the “Altar Druídico” being especially relevant, having been interpreted by many as an altar to offer sacrifices to the gods.

There is clear evidence that the Roman civilization was on Cíes Islands, or “the Islands of the Gods”, as the Romans themselves called them.
Roman remains, similar to “As Hortas” settlement, have been found on the southern islands, along with ceramics and even a gold ring which dates from the 2nd century AD. This suggest that a settlement or a surveillance post for the merchant ships, yet unverified, existed on these islands, called Siccas Islands by Pliny.

The legend describing how Julius Caesar fought the Celtic tribes that sheltered in these lands is also set in this natural paradise. However, the unbeatable general was incapable of defeating the fierceness of this nation with weapons, so he had to conquer them with siege and hunger.

» Ancient History

» Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, two hermitage convents were installed in the Cíes Islands: San Estevo, in the Middle Island, and San Martiño, in the South Island.
In 899, King Alfonso III donated the islands to the Church and the monks who settled there exercised control and administration functions over the small population that they gathered. Convents were transferred to the Benedictine Order in 1152 and to the Franciscans in 1377. These new religious communities remained on the islands until the middle of the 16th century.
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the internal conflicts of the Church and the continuous attacks of pirates caused the abandonment of the Cíes Islands by the clergy.
Today, Cíes Islands are part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park. This is the second tourist destination with the most visits in this autonomous region, after the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Until the middle of the 20th century, the Cíes Islands were inhabited by many families who gradually abandoned them, due to the limited means and resources available to them in this environment. Their way of life was based on agriculture and self-consumption fishing and in occupations as caretakers or seasonal workers in salting factories, while they remained open.

Currently, most of the Cíes Islands archipelago is owned by the Autonomous Government and its use is mainly tourist. In recent decades, tourist visits have increased exponentially. Today, it has become the second tourist destination in Galicia, after the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which is why the need to establish various systems of protection. Unlike other islands such as the Ons Island, in Cíes there is currently no permanent population. However, there are still a few houses built in the 60s-70s.

» Contemporary Era

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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL TO THE CÍES ISLANDS OR THE ONS ISLAND FROM MAY 15 (EXCEPT CAMPERS), before buying the ticket, you must obtain the authorization requested by La Xunta de Galicia, in which they will provide you with the pre code -reserve (necessary to acquire the boat ticket).

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