walkscape Pontevedra
Sálvora, the great unknown
Posted on April 12, 2018

Once you left the little port of O Grove on a boat, the wind is not so strong as other days and the Ocean seems to be friendly. During the route to the Island of Sálvora, the boat zigzag around the circular objects used for mussels cultivation, the real treat of these waters. After a while, an island is beginning to emerge with a dense vegetation at the top. Sálvora forms part of the Galician Atlantic Island of Spain, together with es, Ons, and Cortegada.

At first glance, it appears as a wild and pristine island, enriched by crystal-clear waters. Due to preserve its delicate ecosystem, the access to the island is daily limited to a specific number of people. Once docked, following the first part of the route, a little group of wild horses goes by us, leaving a genuine feeling of freedom like no other. The strong wind easily folds plants and shrubs, as well as it shapes together with water the big rocks. These last, invaded by the lichen, which gives them an amazing yellow color. 

However, the island is not completely savage. Since the XVIII Century, an important merchant opened a salting factory, actually the first in Galicia. For this reason, a group of people lived on the island until the 1970s. The old aldea, which literally means village, is still present to testify the daily life of people here. The stone houses emerge from the ancient rocks which pave the earth surface. The majority of them have lost their roofs and remains there as ruins, except a few ones which are preserved. Walking around the village gives a nice feeling of silence, watching the Ocean through the ruins.

Barely next to the village, a group of horreos stands up in the weed. As it happens in Combarro, they are an iconic symbol of Galicia, although in this case, they symbolize a story of courage and fate. As a matter of fact, each of them brings a memorial plaque in memory of four brave women. The story tells that, on the night of 2 January 1921, the Santa Isabel cruise suddenly wrecked on the coastline near the lighthouse. The village at the moment was almost empty but three women decided to take their little boats to save the castaways people, while another woman remained on the island to organize the reception. Fifty-three people were saved and two hundred died that night. Although nowadays the four women have been considered heroes, in that time they didn't want to issue statements. They believed their effort not enough. 

Today, a vivid reminder remains, while the only person which live on the island is the lighthouse keeper, engaged in taking care of Sálvora, a charming, yellow and savage island.