Fragas do Eume

The forest gem

The Fragas do Eume, that were declared a Natural Park by the Autonomous Government in 1997, encompass more than 9,000 hectares of forests that accompany the Eume River on its way to its mouth. This unique ecosystem is the most representative example of what the forests and landscape were like, that originally inhabited most of the Galician coast.

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Fragas do Eume

It is a paradise for nature lovers and the largest protected Atlantic forest in Europe.

Distributed between the municipalities of Pontedeume, Monfero, As Pontes de Garcia Rodriguez, Capela and Cabanas, the Natural Park can be accessed by four unconnected gates: Caaveiro, A Capela, Eume and Monfero. Here, six main routes invite us to discover the treasures of Eume by camper, on foot, on horseback, by bicycle or by canoe.
The visitor centres are located in the Portal de Caaveiro and Monfero, where, in addition to informing us about the wonders of the park, they will tell us about the driving restrictions on motor vehicles. 

In Galician, the term fraga describes an expanse of forest, usually isolated and difficult to access, populated by different deciduous species, where a great variety of fauna coexists. Trouts, sea trouts, amphibians such as salamanders or the Iberian frog, the escargot of Quimper, birds of prey such as the buzzard, the European green woodpecker or the tawny owl, and mammals such as roe deer or wild boars are the most common species in a park where 103 species of birds, 41 of mammals and 8 of fish have been counted.

The gallery forests fulfill the function of interconnecting distant geographical areas and are the kingdom of the alders - trees that can reach twenty meters in height, with a very populated crown, rounded and serrated leaves and light colored wood that is very hard but not heavy. The vegetation limits the evaporation of the water and under the trees the ground is covered by mosses and multitude of protected ferns. The shade that this type of forest projects on the river contributes to maintain a stable temperature, suitable for native fish –which do not withstand water that is warm or not oxygenated-, where fishing -with rod- is only allowed in the preserve of Ombre. In the past, caneiros were used here - a kind of stone stop formed at some point of the river where the flow was favorable - to capture salmon in a massive way.

The most characteristic tree of the fragas is the carballo, an oak of slow growth that can reach forty meters of height. The name that designates this species -Quercus robur- was coined by the Romans. They used it to call any type of hard wood and it was also used to talk about the solidity and the constancy of spirit. Under its cover, it is easy not to notice the paths of the animals that move through the forest, among which are wild boars that leave their tracks in the mud, where they rub to protect their skin from insects. North of the park, oaks coexist with chestnuts and maples. Laurels are also seen here, with which the Romans crowned the victors and the emperors. The butcher’s broom and the holly are other plant species that can be found in the park.

Undoubtedly, one of the main attractions of the Fragas is the monastery of Caaveiro, located in the heart of the park. Founded by hermits in the 9th century, it was from the 11th century onwards when it became monastery of clerics of San Agostiño. Although there were never more than nine, it always welcomed those people who were looking for shelter in the Fraga. However, when it falls under the power of the Andrade in the 14th century, the monastery is secularized.

At the top of Pena Cavada, oaks and alders give way to extensive pine forests, where it is common to see cows and horses circulating in semi-freedom. This is the preferred place for wild boars, deer, rabbits, hares and roe deer to feed.

The Fragas do Eume constitute a fragile but permanent ecosystem; a place where magic and mystery, meditation and legends take shape under the echoes of a unique history that follows the course of the river.

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