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In 813, when the Spanish Christians were taking a beating from the Moors, a hermit miraculously found the remains of St. James the Apostle buried in a Galician field. It was just the PR coup the Christians needed and Santiago de Compostela (St James of the Field of the Star) became an important pilgrimage site. Still today it's a magical city; if you have time only for one sight, it should be the magnificent cathedral.
Pontevedra has a strong maritime history - Columbus's ship, the Santa María, was built here, and some have claimed that Pontevedra was the town of his birth - and its shipyards and fishing port are still lively. The historic centre is charming, and the surrounding villages and the gloriously rugged beaches and cliffs of the Rías Baixas are well worth a diversion.
The idyllic Cíes Islands are a part of the Atlantic Islands National Park. Their striking cliffs and caves nestle behind white-sand beaches which don't just attract human day-trippers. The islands and their waters also lure shags and cormorants as well as diverse species of turtles, dolphins, seals and whales.