As the bus winds along the coastal road, passengers are offered an irresistible view of the idyllic harbour nestled in a bay. Luarca, often referred to as the “White City” on the “Green Coast”, exudes an aura of serenity and traditional beauty.
Luarca is located on the Costa Verde directly on the Ferrol – Gijón railway line and is a stop on the northern route of the Camino de la Costa, the Way of St. James. In summer, it attracts mainly Spanish tourists who are in love with the charm of this town. Here, surrounded by green hills, cliffs and small bathing bays, you can spend a dreamy time-out from everyday life. In Luarca, it is mainly traditional shops and restaurants that attract visitors.
Viewpoint over Luarca
From a vantage point high above the city, I have an excellent view of the harbour. I think the harbour seems quite small, but it is supposed to be the third most important harbour on this stretch of coast. Around the harbour are white houses and the Paese de Muelle with its bars and fish restaurants invites you to linger. Here you can get the fish that has just arrived freshly caught in the harbour.
In the north of the harbour is the Giant Squid Museum. The museum was opened in 2010 and at that time displayed an important collection of giant squid. Unfortunately, a storm surge in 2014 damaged the museum so badly that it could no longer be used. Fortunately, some of the animals could be rescued from the destroyed museum. In 2022, the Calamar Museum Museo del Calamar Gigante opened in the city centre, which now shows these animals to visitors. I read that the largest specimen weighs a tonne and has a wingspan of 20 metres.
Historical viewpoint: Mesa de Mareantes y Navegantes
A second viewpoint, which even once had an important function, is the Mesa de Mareantes y Navegantes. In the days before radio and computer-controlled navigation, the sailors stood here and looked out to sea. From there, they could see the weather conditions perfectly and decide whether they could go out to work. With the view from up there, I can understand the fishermen very well!
Tile pictures hang on the remains of the 16th century defensive wall. These tell of the adventures, hopes and dreams of the fishermen. The Asturian artist Goico Aguirr has created, I think, really beautiful detailed pictures that almost seem like a story.
The famous table of the sailors and mariners is also located at this vantage point. In the Middle Ages, the village council and later the so-called “noble guild of the Mareantes and sailors of Luarca”, which looked after the interests of the seafarers and their fate, gathered at this huge stone table. Since 1995, the tile picture behind the table has also been a reminder of these meetings.
Cemetery with a view
The Luarca cemetery could almost be called another vantage point. High up on the cliff is the small and last resting place of many locals. I can understand why this place was chosen. High above the town, right next to a church that is one of the places for pilgrims on the Way of St James, the cemetery offers a wonderful place of rest.
I really like Spanish cemeteries. The graves shine in the sun with their white gravestones and tombstones, and here the sea still glitters in the background.
If you look a little closer at the gravestones, you will find the final resting place of Severo Ochoa de Albornoz, Nobel Prize winner for medicine, and his wife Carmen.
Spiritual Heart: The Chapel of the Atalaya
Finally, the Chapel of the Atalaya, also known as the Chapel of the White Madonna, offers a glimpse into the spiritual heart of Luarca. They restored the church in 1961, and the highlight is the altarpiece of Jesús Nazareno, a 17th century baroque work that hangs in the main chapel.
Also on display are the figures of Santa Ana, the Virgin and Child, known as the Virgen de la Blanca. Legend has it that sailors found them in a cave excavated by the sea.
Directly next to the small church, but not accessible to visitors, is the Faro de Luarca.
The visit to Luraca took place as part of my train journey with the Costa Verde Express.