The ethnic group Astoria has been traditionally known for is that of Greek immigrants, but there are also pockets from other European countries such as Spain. One gathering point for Spanish immigrants and their descendants is Casa Galicia, 31st Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets.
The spanish province of Galicia is among the westernmost in mainland Europe, located just below the western brim of Spain’s upside-down “hat” north of Portugal. It was originally occupied by Celtic people and then became part of the Roman Empire and was later dominated by the Visigoths and then the Islamic caliphs before Christian rule was restored. Though it is now part of Spain, its people have a distinct culture featuring renowned works of art and architecture, and to the present day Galicia is self-governed. Galician is a separate language closer to Portuguese than Spanish; both Castilian Spanish and Portuguese are commonly spoken.
In New York, Casa Galicia was founded in 1940 and moved into its present Astoria building in 1994. The building had formerly been a Ukrainian church, which is ironic because Galicia is also the name of an eastern European province bordering on Poland and Ukraine. Spanish and Galician flags flutter outside the wedding cake-like 31st Avenue building.
At Casa Galicia the province’s culture including traditional dances as well as cuisine are promulgated. The busiest time of year is El Carneval in the spring. The club has over 1000 members and is not the only Spanish club in Astoria: a second, Centro Español, has over 300.