Visit Ferrol and Western Rias Altas

By: Stephen Stewart

Northern Spain and Galicia particularly has long been an undiscovered jewel in the whole of the Spanish tourism industry and within that undiscovered jewel in particular we are going to take a look at Ferrol.

Overall of all of the autonomous regions of Spain possibly Galicia is the most remote and this makes Ferrol even more of an undiscovered treasure.

Traditionally, Galicia was seen as a poor agricultural region, whose economy did not lend itself to modernisation and yet as far as tourism is concerned it is this constant contact with the past that gives the region its appeal and charm.

The Galicians, whose origins are Celtic, are fiercely proud of their culture and language; it is what makes them unique (they feel) within modern day Spain.

It absorbed little in the way of outside influence being fiercely resistant to all forms of outside intervention (and we mean all forms of outside intervention), was never conquered by the Moors, and in the Middle Ages fell under the control of the kingdom of Asturias.

Thankfully slowly throughout the 20th century Galicia has begun to develop a way in which to manage the traditional lifestyles with a modern community to ensure that none of its rich history is lost and this is now starting to show very real and tangible benefits as far as the local tourism economy is concerned.

Ferrol can be found on the northern coast of Galicia and is mid way between the coastlines known as the Rias Altas and the Costa da Morte. It is located on the northern shores of the Ria de Betanzos.

Ferrol is perhaps better known for one of the towns most famous (or infamous) sons, a certain Francisco France y Bahamonde who later on in life became better known as just simply General Franco, leader of Spain between the between the 1930's up until the ate 1960's and extremely influential up until his death in 1975.

Perhaps it is something to do with the local approach to the whole General Franco association but Ferrol is very much a town that has possibly a schizophrenic approach to itself and its history.

As a naval port, Ferrol lost most of its influence (and Spanish fleet) in the peninsular war of the early 1800's but it still retains quite some influence us fall as being a port is concerned and evidence of the Spanish Navy can be found throughout the town. Some of the ships in the ill fated Spanish Armada sailed from Ferrol and some would say that the town suffered the same fate as the Armada.

Sadly as an area of quite high unemployment many would view that Ferrol's greatest days are behind it, however the streets around the harbour would tend to suggest otherwise. One area of the town that is worth taking a look is the Magdalena district which is home to the 18th Century Iglesia de San Xulian.

Sadly the outskirts of the town have been described as some of most depressing urban landscapes in all of Spain but don't let this distract you from visiting the city centre is this still retains a certain charm.

Yes, the waterfront is mostly dominated and taken out by naval buildings and dockyards but if you walk along the waterfront you can get a good idea of just how large Ferrols natural harbour actually is.

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