Ferrol’s strategic situation made its port the most important on the Atlantic coast. After some golden times and other more critical ones, the city has a historical legacy that must be discovered. In addition, nature accompanies, with beautiful landscapes in the estuary itself and, a few kilometers away, already in the open sea, some of the best beaches in Galicia.
Arsenal. In the 16th century, Ferrol was named by Felipe II as the capital of the Maritime Department of Northern Spain, which is why it was also called a departmental city. So the Royal Arsenal and a large shipyard and naval base for the Bay of Biscay were built here. This made Ferrol go from being a fishing village to becoming the largest city in Galicia, with an urbanism one hundred percent son of its time: the Enlightenment.
In the architectural ensemble of the Arsenal, which has been of Cultural Interest since 1994, there are two parts, each with its monumental door: the Arsenal del Parque and the Arsenal de los Diques. Inside, the Weapons Room, A Campá Dock, the Shipbuilding Museum (Exponav) and the Naval Museum stand out.
Port. The Curuxeiras pier is also from the mid-18th century. It is the time of the great development of Ferrol, the so-called Illustrated Ferrol. The pier links the Paseo de A Mariña to the Ferrol Vello. Today it is not a fishing port, but a sports one. If we want to take a relaxed walk watching the boats, enjoying the sea breeze between palm trees, gardens and terraces where you can have a drink overlooking the sea, this is the ideal place.
In case we have any doubts, there is a tourist information office right here. And if we want to navigate? Well, precisely from this dock the boats leave for Mugardos. It is also where the pilgrims who make the English way disembark. And where the road to Santo André de Teixido starts.
A Madalena neighborhood. This neighborhood bears the seal of illustrated Ferrol. We only have to look at it from above to appreciate the perfect grid of 6 x 9 streets, and two squares that articulate it: Praza de Amboaxe and Praza de Armas. It was declared a historical-artistic complex in 1983.
Construction began in the 18th century, with the growth of the population due to the Arsenal and the naval shipyard. They are bourgeois houses, with balconies and galleries. Many of them are modernists. Here is the town hall, the Jofre theater, the co-cathedral of San Xiao, the Market, the A Peixería building… and a lot of hotels and shops. Some buildings bear the signature of Rodolfo Ucha, “the Galician Gaudí”. And, by the way, it is also said that the oldest gallery in Galicia is here.
San Felipe Castle. It is in the north mouth of the estuary, in a perfect situation for the defense of the port. It was built in 1557, under the reign of Felipe II, hence the name, but the construction that remains is from the 18th century, when it was remodeled. It became a magnificent example of a bastioned battery (cannons and protruding walls), to repel any attack by sea or by land.
Together with the castle of A Palma de Mugardos, on the opposite coast, and the missing castle of San Martiño, they made up the “triangle of fire”. At night, the one in Ferrol and the one in Mugardos were linked with a chain, becoming a good trap for possible enemies.
In addition to the historical interest of the visit, from here we take the opportunity to contemplate unique views of the Ferrol estuary. You can access it for free or make a reservation with a guide. On some dates they even offer dramatized tours.
As Meninas of Canido. The Canido neighborhood, the neighborhood of the Bazán workers and the military, which has come to a lesser extent since the reconversion, is no longer known for the decadence and crisis of the naval industry, now it is an open-air museum. How was Eduardo Hermida going to imagine the impact of the first mural he painted in his neighborhood? The initiative, which began as an attempt to clean up the area with paintings on the theme of the meninas, was very well accepted and grew very quickly.
Every first weekend of September there is a new call for new painters and painters. There are almost no empty walls left, there are already about 500 murals, so from time to time they are even repainted. A creative market is also held, with a tapas area, now in a van, now in the bars and, of course, lots of music. In the last call there were 13 concerts.
There is even an organized tourist route, with a painting workshop included, so that we can also leave our mark on the neighborhood.