Today I bring you a small history lesson of the Cíes Islands so that when you visit them you can relate the different events.

The oldest remains found in the Islands that confirm the human presence are dated about 3,500 b.c. however the rest of settlements found are of the Iron Age and Bronze Age. In both cases the remains were fortified Celtic settlements, also known as “Castros”. The word “Castro” derives from Latin and means “Military Fortification”.

Islas Cíes vistas desde Canido

Islas Cíes seen from Canido by Manuel Herranz

The next visitors to the Islands are thought to be the Romans. Along with story telling legends about Julius Cesar’s visit to the Islands they also left us remains of amphoras, ceramics and even a golden ring from the second century. The Romans called the Cies Islands, the Islands of the Gods. Some of these Roman remains can be seen as they are on display at Pontevedra’s Museum.

In the Middle Ages the islands were mainly populated by monks. The order of the Benedictines settled briefly on the eleventh century and shortly thereafter left to return on the thirteenth century. The Order of the Franciscans occupied the Islands in the fourteenth century. The monastic orders left us the Monasteries of San Estevo (Saint Stephen) and San Martiño (Saint Martin), the first one is located in the Faro Island and the second in the Island of San Martiño. They also built a salting factory but there are no remains left as in the same spot lies one of the islands restaurants.

Due to the frequent use of the islands by pirates and invading armies, the Cíes Islands were uninhabited in the eighteenth century.

In the 19th century, in 1852, the first of the four lighthouses currently on the islands was built (the other three were all built in the 20th century). By that time the Islands were already inhabited again by people of the surroundings dedicated to fishing and cattle ranch.

At the beginning of 1960 the islands finally lost all their inhabitants, except for sporadic military maneuvers. From about 1970 onward the islands began to be used as at present: as a place rest and to enjoy nature.


Atardecer Islas Cíes por Manuel Herranz

Sunset over Cíes Islands – Manuel Herranz