The Spanish Arch, which overlooks the Claddagh, is located on the Corrib, just outside the city center of Galway.
The Spanish Arch is one of the old city walls’ few preserved structures. In the medieval era, Galway had a wall that kept invading troops from getting in.
Galway’s Spanish Arch is one of the city’s most well-known landmarks.
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Spanish Arch In Galway: All The Things You Need To Know
In this guide, you’ll learn everything about the Spanish Arch, from its name to its history, as well as nearby attractions.
Spanish Arch – The Name
Owing to its location in Western Europe, Galway has long enjoyed close trading ties with Spain and Portugal.
A large number of Spaniards settled here, which allegedly prompted the ruling class in Dublin to declare that “Galway is more Spanish than Irish.”
The arch was named after the Spaniards as a result of this. Ships and galleons from Spain frequently anchored alongside the Arch.
Recently named the European Capital of Culture, old Galway was once visited by the renowned explorer Christopher Columbus.
The History of Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch, known as ceann a bhalla (the head of the wall) in Irish, was built in 1584 during the time of its then mayor Wylliam Martin.
The two arches were built as part of a city wall expansion from Martin’s Tower to the River Corrib’s shore, to safeguard the city’s quays, which were originally known as the Fish Market (now Spanish Parade).
The Eyre family of Eyrecourt, County Galway, built the Long Walk as an expansion of the quays. They also built the arches to give access from the town to the new quays in the 18th century.
The name “Spanish” is not historically accurate for this period; it was most likely known as the Eyre Arch when it was built. These arches were largely wrecked by the tsunami caused by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
The Galway City Museum was located in a section of the Arch until 2006. The museum was eventually relocated to a new, dedicated facility right behind the Arch.
Meanwhile, the Long Walk has been transformed into a promenade on one side of the Arches and along the river.
Things to do and see in and around Spanish Arch
There are numerous activities for visitors in the area surrounding the Spanish Arch. You’ll find much to see and do here, from restaurants and bars to museums, walks, and more.
Go on a long walk
Galway’s 18th century Long Walk is a long promenade that runs alongside the Spanish Arch.
The Long Walk is a great site to walk out to, and it’s best viewed from the grass across the water at sunset.
This is the place to go if you want to get away from the city hustle without actually leaving Galway.
Pay a visit to the Galway Museum
In 1976, the Galway City Museum opened in a former private residence. It’s a folk museum with a large collection of objects relating to the fishing business, which played such an important role in the city’s history and development.
Step inside Galway Cathedral
Within walking distance from the Spanish Arch, a visit to the Galway Cathedral is a must, whether you’re a devout Catholic or simply want to marvel at the gorgeous architecture.
Officially called The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, the church interior is just as fascinating.
Some of the must-see features are Imogen Stuart’s impressive statue of the Blessed Virgin, Patrick Pollen’s stunning crucifixion mosaic, rose windows, and the cathedral’s magnificent pipe organ.
Try some delicious food, visit a pub and listen to the live music
There are plenty of places to eat and drink close by if you are hungry (or thirsty!) after exploring the Spanish Arch area.
Galway is well-known for its vibrant traditional Irish music scene, so that’s a must-experience.
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Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.