Galicia is one of the autonomous communities declared as a Starlight Tourist Destination, a title under which are gathered the best places to observe the starry sky around the world.
The Starlight Foundation, a national entity linked to the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands and whose mission is to protect the night sky, disseminate astronomy and promote sustainable development of tourism, carries out this ranking.
In this line, the organization created the Starlight Tourism Certification, an international system that promotes the defense of the firmament and recognizes those places from which you can see the stars. It is supported by UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
There are several types of certifications and among them is that of Starlight Tourist Destinations, which marks the tourist spots that enjoy good qualities to contemplate the starry sky and develop related activities.
In order to receive this title, destinations must meet a series of requirements, from accrediting the quality of the sky and the means to guarantee its protection, to the presence of infrastructures linked to tourism, such as accommodations, and a good integration with nature.
There are 67 places throughout the world declared as Starlight Tourist Destinations in countries such as Spain, Chile, Canada, Andorra or Portugal. And within this list, Galicia has seven places.
The Trevinca region was the first to appear in the Starlight Foundation list. It is located within the Protected Natural Area of Pena Trevinca, in the municipality of A Veiga. It enjoys excellent qualities to contemplate the stars, both for its altitude and the absence of light pollution. It has the Trevinca Astronomical Observatory that holds different workshops, activities and events and houses a planetarium where you can learn about the sky.
Atlantic Islands National Park
The National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia is one of the main tourist attractions of the region. It is in the Rías Baixas and is formed by four archipelagos: Cíes, in the Vigo estuary, Ons, in the Pontevedra estuary, and Cortegada and Sálvora, in the Arousa estuary. The islands, surrounded by vegetation and unique landscapes, present a spectacular starry sky. They also house Interpretation Centers that hold activities related to the protection and observation of the night sky.
Muras is a rural municipality in the north of Lugo that offers ample views of the stars due to its lack of light pollution. The Sociedade Galega de Historia Natural (Galician Society of Natural History) carries out several astronomical practices throughout the year. Muras has several viewpoints and natural points from which to see the sky and discover its beauty.
Costa da Morte (A Coruña)
Another of Galicia’s Starlight Destinations is A Costa da Morte, a coastal region that occupies the northwestern segment of the Galician coast. Its beaches and cliffs are perfect for contemplating sunsets and starry skies. In fact, from A Costa da Morte you can see the last sunset in continental Europe. It has numerous options from which to see celestial bodies, such as Cape Touriñán, Punta Nariga or Rostro beach.
The municipality of Lalín is the cradle of Galician astronomy. Here lived the well-known astronomer Ramón María Aller Ulloa, who carried out several studies and developed instruments adopted by different astronomical centers around the world. He also started the Lalín Astronomical Observatory. This place offers a perfect view of the Milky Way.
Mariñas Coruñesas (A Coruña)
The biosphere reserve of Mariñas Coruñesas is located in the Cantabrian-Atlantic coast of Galicia, in A Coruña. It is a territory formed by coastal areas, mountains and valleys that has a Quality Mark protected by UNESCO. From the Mariñas Coruñesas you can observe the sky while contemplating the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
Ancares Lucenses (Lugo)
The last Galician region to receive the title of Starlight Tourist Destination is the Ancares Lucenses. It has an impressive natural environment, with a multitude of trails and hills that rise up to 2,000 meters high. Therefore, it is an ideal place to see the sky as it is far from urban centers. Not only that, but during the winter the area is usually covered with snow, which guarantees a unique experience.
The autonomous community of Galicia has the ideal qualities to enjoy the sustainable astro-tourism promoted by the Starlight Foundation, both for the characteristics of its skies, as well as for the landscapes that compose it.