Travels

Ferrol, the city that embraced the sea and modernism

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Jofre Theater, Ferrol, Coruña

There are three reasons why I recommend a trip to Ferrol: it is a small city that can be easily explored on a walk (enjoying rational paths with modernist buildings), it has the sea at its feet (shipyards, arsenal and fishing port they are inexcusable visits but also very close there are beautiful beaches like Doniños) and gastronomy, which in all Galicia is an art, here you can enjoy from the humble cover that is offered free with consumption.

Ferrol lost his last name (he was “del Caudillo” since 1938) in 1982 and he dropped the article (“El” Ferrol) in 1984, but those changes motivated by the political ups and downs have not affected the character of the city. The sea has done it and marked it from the beginning for a peculiarity: the layout of the Ría de Ferrol offers an exit to the sea with a protection, for fishing and military boats, unmatched in this latitude. The Ferrol estuary begins narrow, at the mouth of the Xuvia River, it becomes wider and then narrows again, which makes it difficult to attack in addition to protecting it from wind and storms.

Port of Curuxeiras, Ferrol, Galicia

Such was its strategic importance that Ferrol was named Capital of the Northern Maritime Department, when it was decided that Spain had a permanent Navy organized in three zones (the other two, Mediterranean and South). At the entrance of the estuary, in La Graña, Felipe V establishes in 1726 the Real Arsenal and the Shipyard, but soon they remain small and in 1749 Fernando VI orders the creation of a large shipyard in Esteiro, in the town of Ferrol (at another end of the urban core would be what Ferrol Vello is today).

Overnight, what was a small fishing village began to receive thousands of workers and soldiers who began to inhabit barracks and semi-temporary constructions in the Esteiro and between this and the medieval Ferrol Vello. The obvious challenge was to reconcile the increase in population and the industrial turn with the orderly growth of the small town.

Urban planning in Spain has a reference name, the district of El Ensanche (L'Eixample) in Barcelona since 1860, but few know that in Ferrol and 80 years before, the same principles were already applied. The ideas and spirit of the Enlightenment turned to the design of a new neighborhood, that of La Magdalena, which would occupy a whole side of the grounds of the Military Arsenal.

Amboage Square, Ferrol, Coruña

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