The Spanish Arch in Galway: the history of the landmark

The historical past behind one of Galway’s oldest and proudest landmarks.

The Spanish Arch in Galway.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Positioned on the banks of the River Corrib is the Spanish Arch in the centre of Galway. The arch is steeped in history and is one of the most famous landmarks of Galway City.

The Spanish Arch was built in 1584 initially to protect the quays of Galway, it now stands as a popular tourist attraction in one of the city’s most beautiful and bohemian corners.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for visiting the Spanish Arch in Galway:

  • Walk the Long Walk adjacent to the Spanish Arch, where you’ll pass Galway’s most picturesque row of colourful houses and a stunning view of the Claddagh.
  • Enjoy a Boojum by the Spanish Arch like a true Galwegian! Galway’s Boojum is located on the Spanish Arch, and locals love to enjoy a burrito by the river.
  • Keep an eye out for the wildlife at the Spanish Arch, as you’ll often see swans, seadogs, cormorants, and even dolphins have been known to stop by.

Interesting facts about the Spanish Arch in Galway:

  • The Arches were originally built as an extension to the walls that surrounded the city, and they provided protection from looting to merchant ships incoming to the quay.
  • The landmark was named by locals because of the great trade relationship between Galway and Spain, from whom they bought wine, spices and more throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • The arch connected Galway to the rest of Europe and became a busy shipping port. It was even visited by Christopher Columbus in 1477.
  • The Spanish Arch has been restored many times, and most famously after it was nearly destroyed by a tsunami in 1755, the beautiful long walk extension was added in the 1800s.
  • The Spanish Arch now functions as a must-see tourist attraction, and there is a museum at the bank too. The area is loved for its bohemian vibe, and you’ll often find buskers, festivals and performers at the location.

What’s nearby?

Food: Under the arch, you’ll find exquisite dining in Ard Bia (Irish cuisine), especially their brunch. Eastern Tandoori (Indian), Thai Garden (Thai food), Kumars (Indian and Asian cuisine) and Burgerstory (Burgers) all have restaurants at the location also.

Drink: Quay Street is just two minutes from the arch and is plentiful with colourful pubs. Also, across the bridge sits the Salt House, a craft beer bar on Ravens Terrace.

Tourist attractions: The Galway City Museum is located at the Spanish Arch, and the Seattle Stone is situated directly across the road also.

Your questions answered about the Spanish Arch in Galway

Is there parking nearby?

Yes, at the Spanish Arch car park. Alternatively, the Hynes Yard car park is nearby too.

How long does it take to visit the Spanish Arch?

The Spanish Arch and the Long Walk can be enjoyed in around thirty minutes.

Need to know anything else?

There is a Galway Tourism kiosk you can visit in the centre of Eyre Square on your visit.

IB4UD guides to Galway

READ: Top 10 best things to do in Galway

MORE: the best free things to do in Galway

READ: what to do in Galway when it’s raining

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