Fortified settlements

These are places steeped in history, showing us how our ancestors lived during the Iron Age. They are almost always located in high and easy to defend areas, with an important visual control over the surrounding territory. But… every time you look at these locations you realise how strong their inhabitants had to be, because climbing those slopes every day would be exhausting…

These villages were fortified and their interior was usually divided into neighbourhoods, often with cobbled streets to improve communication within the village.

How many secrets do we still have to know about the life of these settlers? Let’s hope that archaeologists continue to uncover more and more secrets about the inhabitants of the Galician castros.

Distance from this QR to different forts:

-Vía de la plata:

Castro de Saceda (Cualedro, Verín, Ourense).

Castro de San Cibrán de Las (San Amaro, Ourense)

-Camino del Norte or Camino Primitivo:

Castro de Viladonga (Castro de Rei, Lugo)

-Portuguese Way along the coast:

Castro de Santa Trega (A Guarda, Pontevedra)

-Portuguese Route:

Castro de Beróbriga o Donón (Monte de O Facho, Cangas, Pontevedra).


Respect the cordoned off, fenced and protected areas and use the wooden walkways and other structures to preserve the site. But above all, do not step or sit on the walls or other structures, as you will endanger their integrity.

Wear comfortable and appropriate footwear, as access is often over dirt or rocky terrain.

Websites of interest:


Geolocation of castros

Other places of great interest:

Castro Baroña (Porto do Son, A Coruña).

Hillfort of Elviña (A Coruña).

Castro da Cidade (Ribeira, A Coruña).

Hillfort of Candaz (Chantada, Lugo).

Castro da Torre (O Courel, Lugo)

Castromao (Celanova, Ourense)

Castro de Santomé (Ourense)

A Cidá de Borneiro (Cabana, A Coruña)

Castro de Neixón (Boiro, A Coruña)

Castro de Fazouro (Foz, Lugo)

Castro de Cervantes (Cervantes, Lugo)

Castro de Troña (Ponteareas, Pontevedra)

More information:

A castro is a fortified enclosure where a population settled, generally from pre-Roman times. The word castro comes from the Latin castrum (this name was given by the Romans and they are the ones that have come down to us, as we have no texts or inscriptions from these people that indicate what they called them, as they lived in prehistoric times), which means “military fortification”. Another name by which castros are known is oppidum, when they are large in size.

They are located in naturally protected places (heights, peaks, small peninsulas), close to springs and arable land and on the boundary between these and higher pastoral areas. This allowed for visibility, defence and control of the surroundings, as well as having the natural resources exploited by the inhabitants close at hand.

The forts were protected by embankments (slopes in the terrain formed by earth and stone), walls (masonry defences of various types, such as two parallel stone walls with a stone filling, which could be climbed from the inside by means of wooden ladders, The walls are made of a variety of types of masonry, such as two parallel stone walls with stone infill, which can be climbed from the inside by means of wooden ladders, embedded slabs, ramps or stones), one or more moats (long, deep holes, usually associated with parapets, which may be dug into the ground or into living rock) and parapets (artificial elevations of the ground at the most unprotected points; entrances and flat areas), which bordered the inhabited enclosure, and may have turrets at the entrances.

They usually have an upper enclosure, the “croa”, and a series of terraces arranged downwards where the buildings are located. Each of these sections may in turn be limited by walls or parapets, which were sometimes used to protect these spaces. Sometimes they have a kind of addition, the antechambers, which were also surrounded by walls but did not house dwellings, so it is assumed that they were intended for animals or vegetable gardens.


The roofs of the houses were made of branches reinforced with mud and held in place by weights or later with tiles. From the 1st century onwards, due to Roman influence, square or rectangular floor plans became more common.

It is suspected that some large buildings may have been used as meeting places or for some other social use. Kilns have also been found, preferably near the exits or outside, as well as structures for storing grain or cereals.

At the end of the 1st century BC and coinciding with the final phase of the Roman conquest, some show signs of destruction of the walls, while in other cases there is immediate reoccupation. It was in this century that groupings of buildings (‘barrios’) appeared, made up of several buildings surrounded by a wall with a single opening onto the street. These may be family units, in which one building would be the dwelling and the others, silos and warehouses. The houses do not share party walls, but are separated from the others, whether as a reflection of the idiosyncrasy of this culture or due to the difficulties in doing so in circular constructions, is not known.


More information on forts near the Camino:

Castro de Saceda

Also known as Cidá do Castro and, although little known, it is one of the most important in Galicia. It is located in the valley that separates Spain from Portugal, at the foot of Mount Larouco. It was occupied between the 1st century BC and 1st century AD.

It is a 3-hectare ovoid fortified enclosure surrounded by moats, parapets and up to three walls. The main enclosure is walled and linked to two other walled enclosures. There is an outer moat on the north side, and on the north-eastern and eastern sides there are driven stones to stop the advance of cavalry or infantry. The walls have strategically placed gateways to improve the defence of the site.

In the moat between the two walls, two circular towers may have been found that are still 2 m high. The space between the outer wall and the second wall is so large that it could have provided protection for thousands of people and livestock. Inside the wall, the remains of circular huts can be seen.

It was first studied in 1953, and then in the early 1980s, but much more information could still be sought from this incredible site.


Castro de San Cibrao de Las

Located near the confluence of the rivers Miño and Barbantiño, it offers great dominion over the surrounding valleys. Continuously inhabited from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD and sporadically between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, it has a large enclosure, comparable only to some of the oppidums in the north of Portugal or Santa Trega. It shows an important occupation during the 1st century AD, with clear signs of Romanisation.

It occupies an area of 10 hectares and has at least two walled enclosures, the upper or croa and the lower one, where the settlement is located. Both enclosures are connected by a central cobbled street and protected by several lines of walls. The gates of the croa were defended by towers, the eastern gate having two of them. In the anteacropolis there are two other walls with three entrances, inside which are located some of the quarters, with streets running perpendicular to each other, many of which are paved or paved.

A curious inscription dedicated to Zeus (IOVI) was discovered inside and a fountain-cistern was found outside, and it is also thought that there was a sauna in the castle.

Studied for the first time in the 1920s, excavations continued during the 1940s, but were subsequently abandoned and underwent a major spoliation, with remains of the oppidum being located in various surrounding villages. Work was resumed in the 1980s, excavating new areas and consolidating the remains previously discovered, and in 2014 it became an Archaeological Park, a centre for the interpretation of the Castro culture.


Viladonga Hillfort

Occupied between the 2nd century BC and 5th century AD, it stands out in the plain of Terra Chá in Lugo, with a surface area of 4 hectares and important defensive structures. It has several walls and at least three moats, as well as two walled fortifications that have yet to be excavated.

Most of the structures are built of slate and schist. They were distributed in neighbourhoods and could have been inhabited by around 350 people. Thanks to the remains found, it is estimated that the inhabitants of this settlement may have carried out specialised trades (pottery, smelting, etc.) as well as livestock farming and agriculture.

The first excavations date back to 1972 and periodically excavations and consolidation have continued. In 1983 the museum of the Viladonga Hillfort was created, located next to the site, where part of the pieces discovered in this hillfort are exhibited.


Santa Trega, A Guarda

This is undoubtedly the best known castro in Galicia, mainly because of its impressive dimensions and fabulous scenery, overlooking the mouth of the Miño River, which serves as a natural border between Spain and Portugal.

It was inhabited from the 2nd century BC until at least the 1st century AD and its strategic location allowed its inhabitants to control Atlantic maritime traffic and river traffic on the River Minho, as well as to dominate an area that was difficult to access and easy to defend in the event of an attack. Cave engravings from the Bronze Age appear in the settlement, which means that this place was probably inhabited prior to the construction of the settlement.

The presence of imported materials tells us of maritime trade relations with the Mediterranean and the rest of Atlantic Europe, with its period of maximum splendour being between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

Access to the living area was gained by crossing a wall with two entrances. The houses were distributed in neighbourhoods, with cobbled streets, rainwater drainage systems and collection tanks. It has also been shown that the houses were painted red, blue and white from the remains of plaster found at the site. Many were richly decorated with geometric motifs on the doorways, such as trisqueles or swastikas.

The first excavations at this site were carried out in 1913, when remains of structures were discovered during the construction of a forest track, and work continued until the end of the 1980s. Listed as a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1931, the castro currently houses two reconstructed huts, as well as a small museum that houses part of the materials discovered on the site.


Monte Facho de Donón Hillfort

One of the most incredible human sites in the Galician geography thanks to its spectacular landscape. The castro has been used for a long period of time: from the 9th century BC to the 4th century AD, being temporarily abandoned between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD.

It has circular, oval and rectangular constructions, which mark the last occupation of the settlement. In addition to many other remains, an important collection of Roman altars have been found, offered by the faithful to the Galician god Berobreo. One theory says that he was a god of the dead and that the devotees who were saved from his death brought the altars here.

The place is visited by many people because of the incredible views. For the same reason, at the top you can see a circular, domed military guard post, which was used in modern times to control the maritime areas.

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