It is located in the parish of Muxía, which in turn belongs to the council of the same name. In the shelter of Mount Corpiño and contemplating the beating of the waves on the Costa da Morte, from the mouth of the Camariñas estuary look straight ahead Cabo Vilano. From this beautiful town, with a seafaring vocation, one arrives at the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Barca by a tiled path called Camiño a Pel. The origin of the Sanctuary can be traced back to the existence of a Romanesque chapel from the 11th or 12th centuries, although the first documents about it and its dedication to the Virgin date from the 14th and 15th centuries. He knew years of fame and splendour in the seventeenth century thanks to the many miracles that his devotees attributed to him. The current temple was built in 1719. The work was carried out by suffrage of the Dukes of Maceda, lords of the Towers of Cereixo, whose ashes, years later, were deposited in a sarcophagus inside the temple. The Rectory House, located in front of the sanctuary, was built in 1828 and the bell tower, built independently of these two buildings, dates from 1834, but the towers of the temple are much more recent as they date from the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century.
Since the Middle Ages this Marianist milestone has been the destination of many pilgrims who, once they arrived in Santiago, set their course towards the end of the earth, Finisterre, passing by the place where the Virgin came to the help of the Holy Apostle. Today, the Virgen de la Barca is the patron saint of sailors and the lawyer of sea travellers. The temple was devastated during Christmas 2013 by a fire caused by lightning that destroyed the roof and the interior of the magnificent Sanctuary; at the end of May 2015 it was reopened for worship.
Two true monuments coexist in the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Barca. The architectural building is of baroque style but with classic reminiscences of the previous century, in him his altarpieces stand out. The great fire it was baitedt above all in its great sculptural work, the High Altarpiece, which in 1717 was commissioned to the Baroque artist Miguel de Romay from Compostela, all of it centred around the Camerín where the 14th century Gothic image of the Virgen de la Barca presided over the Sanctuary. Fortunately the carving that was burned was a replica of the original. The architectural ensemble is completed with the building of the rector's house and the independent bell tower, both from the 19th century. You can also see a simple transept, and a little above the church, on a promontory, is the monument called A Ferida, the wound, which are two huge blocks of stone separated by a crack and recall the ecological catastrophe caused by the oil tanker Prestige.
The other monument, the stony sanctuary of ancestral cults, whose famous stones are distributed by the rock that, in front of the church, lash the waves and which was also damaged by a storm at the beginning of 2014. These, according to tradition, are part of the stone boat in which the Virgin came to Muxía. Each and every one of them has its legend and its miraculous powers. The stone of Abalar has premonitory powers and in addition it is only balanced if the person that is placed on it is pure and clean of heart; near it is La Vela, also called Pedra dos Cadrís, it is necessary to pass nine times under it to cure back pains and lumbalgias; the Timon, guarantees the fertility to the women and it is not necessary to forget the romantic Stone of the Lovers. In the middle of such a spectacular panoramic view, a small white lighthouse, placed right at the tip, warns sailors of the dangers of these wild seas.
There is a tradition that is lost at the dawn of the foundation of the first chapel located here. It is the Barca de Muxía Pilgrimage, celebrated on the second Sunday in September, as long as this is not the eighth, because according to the saying, A Romería da Barca non baixa do nove nen sobe do fifteen, the Barca Pilgrimage is not done before the ninth and not later than the fifteenth. After a novena, on Saturday the fiesta begins with a picnic accompanied by bagpipes, tambourines and dances. On Sunday a campaign mass is celebrated outside the Sanctuary and then the Virgin is processionary up to the coast of the village where the waters are blessed. Between rockets the procession goes through the streets until it reaches the parish church of Santa María, where the Virgin rests until the following day when the sailors, after singing a Salve, return her to her Sanctuary.
The Mount do Corpiño, in whose shadow the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Barca is situated, is a small hill whose name, which is diminutive of body, may be an allusion to the fact that there was some burial in the place that, related to the temple, was traditionally venerated by the people. It is also a magnificent vantage point towards beautiful panoramic views such as Cabo Vilán, the Camariñas estuary, the beaches of Leis and Lago, Mount Facho de Lourido, or Muxía itself.
As the Apostle Santiago walked around these parts preaching the doctrine of Jesus, he fell into discouragement when he saw how people did not pay much attention and the legend tells that the Virgin came here in a boat of stone to encourage him and give him strength to continue his work. The legend goes on to say that the stones that are scattered are the remains of that boat and that under one of them was found the image of the Virgin and that they took her to the church of Muxía, but the image mysteriously disappeared from the temple being found again under the same rock where they found her the first time, then the people understood that the Virgin wanted to stay in the place and decided to build a temple from which she could watch over the rough waters of the Costa de la Muerte.
Muxía can be reached by following the AC-440 from Os Muíños, this locality is also reached by other roads that connect with the villages in the area in addition to Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña. Another possibility is through the DP-5201, which runs along the coast from Cee thus joining Muxía with Fisterra. Muxía has a bus service, which makes the route Santiago- Negreira- Muxía, every day of the week at different times. The bus service that connects Muxía with A Coruña is also daily and at different times and links with Carballo and Berdoias-Vimianzo.
As soon as we arrive at Muxía, we must head towards the fishing port and from there follow the road that will take us to the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Barca. Along this road we will have parking to park our vehicle. Another option is to walk from Muxía itself, through some of the walks that lead to the Sanctuary, the distance that separates us from it.
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