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Cabo Ortegal UNESCO Global Geopark

Cabo Ortegal UNESCO Global Geopark

Seven town councils, one plan

In addition to the seven municipalities involved in the project, at the beginning the incorporation of As Somozas was also a possibility, who finally disassociated themselves from the initiative. Thus, there are finally 799 square kilometers of surface and just over 28,000 inhabitants distributed in 57 parishes and 1,211 population entities. The entire area is characterized by the constant loss of inhabitants, by an economic fabric that focuses on agriculture and the sea in the northern territories and that has a certain dependence on the industrial centers of Ferrol, Narón and As Pontes in the southeastern municipalities. The strategies associated with the project also seek the diversification of economic activity and the planned use of endogenous resources and innovation, although always without losing sight of sustainability.

For more information

The geographical scope of the Cabo Ortegal Geopark is defined by the limits of the A Coruña municipalities of Cariño, Cedeira, Cerdido, Moeche, San Sadurniño, Ortigueira and Valdoviño. They are around 799 km² of surface (632 land and 167 coastal sea front) which, to a large extent, are part of the so-called Cape Ortegal Geological Complex, widely studied by specialized science since the mid-20th century.

Geological Map of the Cabo Ortegal Geopark

The area – especially the north one – is the result of the Variscan Orogeny process 350 million years ago, something we talk about in more detail in the Geology section. Here, you can find 52 Places of Geological Interest cataloged, of which at least 6 have international relevance. And that is due to the presence of unique rocks and formations produced by the slow process of birth and disappearance of the great Variscan mountain range and by the movement of the planet’s tectonic plates that still continues today

The peculiarity of this area lies in the fact that here, on the surface, there are rocks that are normally found in the Earth’s mantle, more than 70 kilometers deep. In Ortegal, geological science has a great field to investigate and expand its knowledge about the changes and moments experienced by the Earth over millions of years.

Now, with the Cabo Ortegal Geopark, the aim is to expand that knowledge by taking it out of specialized circles. It is about making known and valuing the geological substrate first of all for the approximately 28,300 inhabitants of the seven municipalities involved, but also to become an informative and tourist reference for people from the rest of the world, whether they are specialists in the field or lovers of living different experiences.

The geological, the natural and landscape heritage, the tangible and intangible cultural heritage – buildings, traditions, gastronomy, etc. – are closely linked within the Geopark, since despite taking geology as a starting point, the goal is to achieve sustainable development in the territory where all these aspects are related and coordinated under the umbrella of the Cabo Ortegal Geopark.

This is our geological history

The origins

The first geological map

The German mining engineer Guillermo Schulz made the first geological cartographic sketch of the area. A trip to search and prospect for places for the extraction of materials suitable for mining activity.

Year 1835

Tectonic map of Galicia

Isidro Parga Pondal, illustrious Galician geochemist and geologist, made the Tectonic Map of Galicia this year. This map was considered exceptional, novel and modern throughout Europe, attracting Central European universities and their research to the territory.

Year 1958

Foreign researchers

The incursions into our territory began thanks to researchers from the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands. The works of Vogel, Engels and Ho Len Fat stand out, those foreigners who lived with us at that time.


Investigations by national experts

The National Schools of Geology begin to visit the territory to deepen and complete the studies and investigations of the geological peculiarities of this unique territory. A large number of doctoral theses were carried out these years, thus expanding knowledge in the area.

80s onwards

Asociación de Amigos do Parque Xeológico do Cabo Ortegal

At the end of this year, the Association of Friends of the Cabo Ortegal Geological Park was created as the first organized tool to give shape to an objective: achieve recognition as a geopark. The dissemination and protection of geological heritage were the goal of this constitution.

Year 2014

Institutional involvement

Institutional involvement officially begins, with the creation of an Intermunicipal Community between the Provincial Council of A Coruña and the municipalities of Cariño, Cedeira, Cerdido, Moeche, San Sadurniño, Ortigueira and Valdoviño that same year.

Year 2018

The geopark project begins

The project officially began its journey to become a UNESCO World Geopark this same year, when the Association for the Management of Xeoparque do Cabo Ortegal was formally established, thus providing them with the legal personality required by UNESCO for the presentation of the Cabo Ortegal Geopark Project. This year the first attempt was made to present a candidacy and we were unable to pass.

Year 2020

First test passed

Having learned the lessons of the previous year, it was decided to take a qualitative leap in the next application presentation. The specialized and professional work of external collaborators comes into play for the nomination of the Cabo Ortegal Geopark Project for UNESCO in 2021. This time we achieved it!

Year 2021

UNESCO Evaluation

It was at the end of summer when we received a visit from the evaluation team of two UNESCO auditors: Chris Woodley-Stewart – Geopark North Pennines (United Kingdom), and César Goso – Geopark Grutas del Palacio (Uruguay). “We find here a natural and cultural heritage that the community protects, values ​​and shares freely. “People understand that their nature and culture are the main long-term assets for the local economy and also to support their way of life.”

Year 2022

Officially Geopark

After a lot of work, on May 24 of this year it was officially announced that Cabo Ortegal is now a UNESCO World Geopark, making it the second in Galicia and the only territory on the Iberian Peninsula to obtain the distinction this year.

Year 2023


In addition to their geological resources of international importance, geoparks are characterized by networks, working together with local agents, administrations, other geoparks and specific working groups.

One of the ways to work on the visibility of Geoparks, share experiences and at the same time be able to transmit and collect good practices carried out by other territories is the organization and attendance of specific conferences and forums.

This line of work was put into practice with the visits to other global Geoparks, such as the Costa Vasca Geopark, the Sobrarbe Geopark (Huesca) or the Las Loras Geopark in Burgos, where Cabo Ortegal was able to participate in the V Open Days of the Geoparks Forum from Spain. Además, en junio de 2019 también se organizó la I Jornada del Proyecto Geoparque Cabo Ortegal, que contó con ponentes de otros geoparques y mesas de participación donde se pudieron presentar ideas y propuestas que deberían incluirse en las estrategias del proyecto.

Already in 2022,  the Geopark organized the 1st Local Participation Forum, aimed at associations and entities in the territory, to collect ideas and proposals and at the same time serve as a meeting point for different types of associations, involving the local population in decision-making. That same year, the Geopark also participate in the “Geological Heritage and Geodiversity Course: concepts, tools, communication and interpretation of heritage” within the framework of the “XIV Meeting of the Geological Heritage Commission of the Geological Society of Spain” at the UGG Montañas do Courel and at the “VII Open Days of the Spanish Geoparks Forum” at the UGG Origen (Tremp, Lleida).

In 2023, the Geopark collaborated with the Territorial Delegation of the Spanish Soil Society of Galicia in the organization of the Soil Conference of the Cabo Ortegal Geopark, the very first event after the official ratification as a UNESCO World Geopark.

Local participative forum -Moeche-
Conferences: soils of the geopark

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