Ferrol: Wikis


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This article refers to Ferrol, Galicia. For other uses, see Ferrol (disambiguation).
City & Naval Station of Ferrol
El Miguel de Cervantes in El Ferrol - 1943
Location in Galicia, Spain and Europe
Comarca de Ferrol.png
Coordinates :
43°28′N 8°15′W / 43.467°N 8.25°W / 43.467; -8.25Coordinates: 43°28′N 8°15′W / 43.467°N 8.25°W / 43.467; -8.25
Time zone :
Flag Coat of arms
Flag of Ferrol
Escudo Ferrol
Settlement History
Fishing Village 1st century BC - Roman Empire
Christian Outpost 8th century - House of Asturias
Royal Arsenal 16th century - House of Austria
Royal Dockyard 18th century - House of Bourbon
Maritime Department Capital
Vickers Shipyard 20th century - House of Bourbon
Outer-Port 21st century - House of Bourbon
Basic information
Area 81.9  km² City
19,214   km² Metrop. Area
Population 241,528 Ferrolterra (04/2005)
77,859 Ferrol City Centre
163,669 Ferrol Borough Region
241,528 Ferrol Metropolitan Area
Density 942.06/km²
Ferrolterra Ferrol, Eume & Ortegal
NUTS-Code ES4 Flag of Europe.svg
Country Spain Flag of Spain.svg
Region Galicia Flag of Galicia.svg
Subdivisions 21 Boroughs
Governing Mayor Vicente Irisarri since 2007
Governing Parties PSOE / IU
Website http://www.ferrol-concello.es

Ferrol is a city in the Province of A Coruña in Galicia. Located on the Atlantic coast in north-western Spain, it has urban population of 77,859 and metropolitan area of over 241,528 (2007)

The city has been a major naval shipbuilding centre for most of its history, being the capital of the Spanish Navy's Maritime Department of the North since the time of the early Bourbons. Before that, in the 17th century, Ferrol was the most important arsenal in Europe. Today, the city is also known as the home of the shipbuilding yards of Navantia[1].

The city was the birthplace of the Spanish General Francisco Franco in 1892, and was officially known as El Ferrol del Caudillo from 1938 to 1982. It was also the birth place of the founder of the Spanish socialist party PSOE, Pablo Iglesias, in 1850.



(Classification of the Outer and Inner Ports of Ferrol) [2]

  • SymbolNauticMarked.png Military ports - Great expansion during the 18th century and still is the most important Naval Station in North-western Spain.[3]
  • SymbolNauticMarked.png Commercial ports - Due to the great expansions of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, soon to be one of the largest in Spain.
  • SymbolNauticDeport.png Sport ports - Still awaiting to be fully developed to its true potential during the 21st century unlike most ports of Ferrolterra.
  • SymbolNauticFisher.png Fishing ports - Still awaiting to be fully developed to its true potential during the 21st century unlike most ports of Ferrolterra.

Note: For those who want to read further about the, non-military, "Ferrol-San Cibrao Port Authority" which covers a substantial part of the Galician coast including all its ports and lighthouses from San Cibrao to Ferrol, it is advisable to visit the external official link shown in the references section.[4]


The existence of prehistoric human settlements in this green corner of Iberia is backed up by the abundance of burial chambers, megalithic monuments as well as Petroglyphs and other archaeological findings. The Phoenicians established in this area different dried and salted cod stations and their presence together with the presence of the Ancient Greeks is well documented by historians like Herodotus amongst others. In Roman times, in the 1st century BC, a fishing port existed in the bay of Ferrol. After the fall of Rome the whole Iberian Peninsula, including Ferrol, was raided by the Vandals, occupied in 411 by the Suevi though their kingdom was incorporated in 584 by Leovigild to the Visigothic kingdom of Spain. [5]

Raided from 711 to 739 by the Arabs, Ferrol was ultimately recaptured by the Visigothic king of Asturias in 754 remaining onwards an integral part of Christian Spain. [6]

The House of Asturias established an important Christian Outpost to protect their realms from the infidel Arab invaders who every now and then were coming up north for booty and treasures. A good example could be Al-Mansur who, in the 10th century, robbed and sacked different Christian settlements, including the holy city of Santiago de Compostela in 997. But during the 10th century was not only the Arabs, those who were robbing and sacking Christian settlements in this part of Spain, also the Normans and the Vikings were equally fearsome and the legend says that some of them ended up establish themselves permanently in these green pastures of northern Iberia for good; leaving behind their pagan, and bloody past, to became good Christians - and (who knows?) may be this is where the fishing and shipbuilding tradition of the people of this parts of Spain comes from!.

In the 14th century Henry II gave the town to the powerful Andrade family. [7]

The Spanish Armada leaving the Bay of Ferrol (1588)

During the reign of Phillip II [8], and with regard to the history of Ferrol, two major events are worth being mentioned, the great fire of 1568[9] which will reduced to rubble the old medieval town, and the fact that some parts of the existing fortifications at the entrance of the estuary were built; some of these still exist today as they were in the late-16th century[10], when the Spanish Armada [11] sought refuge locally, to protect themselves from the rough Atlantic waters they encountered, when they were on their military mission to persuade the English to return to the Catholic faith. At that time the town was considered more important as a Royal Arsenal than as a safe harbour.

With the arrival of the Bourbons in the 18th century, the City and Port of Ferrol became a leading naval centre [12], and for the first time, the immense strategic importance of the port was appreciated. Ferrol was made Capital of the Maritime Department of the North, formed under Ferdinand VI and Charles III for the defence of the Spanish Colonial Empire in America. Rapid and well-planned improvements followed, notably under the leadership of the Marquis of Ensenada, and the position of Ferrol was made almost unassailable from the sea, the difficulties of disembarking troops on its precipitous coast being heightened by a renewed line of fortresses and newly built castles, including San Carlos.

The Spanish America at the end of the 18th century (c.1800)

The Royal Dockyards of A Graña and Ferrol, were built between 1726-1783[13] and produced ships protected with copper sheets from the rolling mills of Xubia. In 1772, The Spanish Royal Academy of Naval Engineers of Ferrol was created -- the first such academy in Spain.

Ferrol was virtually impossible to blockade in the age of sail, as strong westerly winds would take any blockading force away along the treacherous north coast of Spain where they had no safe haven. The geography of Ferrol meant that an entire Spanish fleet could slip out on a single tide. By the time the British were able to resume the blockade, the Spanish would be safely away and out to sea. (By contrast, British forces blockading Cadiz could seek refuge at Gibraltar, and those blockading the French naval port of Brest could seek refuge in Torbay. The British could then quickly return when the weather changed before too many of the blockaded ships had time to reach open water via the narrow channels).

Despite these advantages, a decline set during the reign of Charles IV, and in 1800, after the defences had been reduced, a British fleet of 109 vessels landed troops on the beach of Doniños to take the Castle of San Felipe. This attack on Ferrol took place during the Napoleonic wars in Europe, when the Spaniards were expected to take side with the French, as they did in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 [14]. Although only equipped with meagre artillery, the castle's small defence force under the command of Count Donadio together with a sizable number of volunteer citizens of Ferrol, successfully resisted the attack and the fleet withdrew.

After the unsuccessful attempt to capture Ferrol in 1800, the British Prime Minister William Pitt said in the House of Commons that "If Great Britain had a naval station so easy to defend as Ferrol, due to its location, it would have been surrounded by a thick silver wall".

The alliance with England during the Peninsular War of 1808-14 failed to prevent the deterioration in the town’s fortunes. The arsenals and fortresses were abandoned and they were easily occupied by the French in 1809. (The English author C. S. Forester (1899-1966) immortalized Ferrol in his Horatio Hornblower novels when he decided that this was the Naval Station where his imaginary Royal Navy Officer was taken as a prisoner of war when captured by the Spanish during the Napoleonic Wars).

Under Ferdinand VII, Ferrol became a “dead” town, losing its title of capital. New activities sprang up, however, in the mid-19th century, during the administration of the Marquis de Molina[15], Spanish Minister for Naval affairs, which included amongst other political successes the construction and launch in the Royal Dockyards of Ferrol, of Spain's first steam propelled ship in 1858.

Aerial view of the city (2009)

The second half of the 19th century brought to the Royal Dockyards of Ferrol not just plenty of work but social and political tensions which will end up in the failed republican uprising of 1872[16].

The social tensions and political unrest will resume decades later, at different times, particularly towards the beginning of the 20th century [17].

Ten years after the Spanish-American War of 1898 [18] [19] where the Spaniards lost Cuba and the Philippines, the Maura Government, in an attempt to restore the Spanish Navy and Spanish shipbuilding industry hired to the Spanish Society for Naval Construction (whose major investors were the British firms: John Brown, Vickers and Armstrong[20]) the shipbuilding yards, workshops, foundries and dry docks in Ferrol.

For a period of sixteen years, all the technicians were exclusively British, and the situation was not altered till 1925 when the management was taken over by Spanish engineers, as one of the new policies introduced by the then newly created government, including ministers both civil and military, of the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923–1930). The arrival of the British coincided with the construction of a local electric-powered trolley streetcar’s line (1924-1961) which at the time was a common feature in the USA and some parts of Europe but not so much in North-western Spain. [3]

In sight of the outbreak of a civil war, and because there was fear of social unrest in the naval station, the Foreign Office in London, [21] [22] organized a ship to repatriate all the remaining British citizens and on July 22, 1936 HMS Witch (D89)[23], a destroyer, captained by B.A. Warburton-Lee, departed from Ferrol back to Britain. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) meant that the shipbuilding yards, workshops, foundries and dry docks in Ferrol were taken over by the state and fully nationalized in 1945 under the name "Bazàn", later renamed "IZAR", and from January 2005, Navantia.

The town has also been, for centuries, the birthplace of national and international personalities: men and women of letters, statesmen, politicians, and others, amongst them Francisco Franco, after whom the city was officially known as El Ferrol del Caudillo from 1938 to 1982.

The end of the dictatorship and the arrival of democracy in 1978 did not help Ferrol, [24] and from 1982 to the early 1990s, the city confronted numerous problems due to a decline in the naval sector.

The beginning of the new millennium however, has been a time of economic expansion and prosperity in general [25]. A new motorway and an outer-port [26] have been recently built; making the communications by land and sea, with the rest of the world, much easier and faster.

Ferrol, the most important Naval Station in the north of Spain,[27] which has hosted the large NATO Maritime Exercise Loyal Mariner (RN) in June 2008,[28] with its well sheltered harbour and busy port, together with the Navantia shipyards seems to be flourishing once again, and with it, the whole heavily populated district of As Mariñas and Ferrolterra.


Climate data for Ferrol, Spain
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13
Average low °C (°F) 9
Precipitation cm (inches) 8.38
Source: weather.uk.msn.com[29] Dec 2007


  1. Primary IndustriesAgriculture (Horse Breeding), Aquaculture (Fish Farming), Fishing (Specializing in the Atlantic Shoals), Important Mines (ENDESA), NTFP (Forest Harvest), Quarries and Timber.
  2. Secondary IndustriesShipbuilding, Ship Engines, Turbines (Wind Mills and Ships), Electrical Equipment, Ironworks, Fashion (Textiles), Food (Canned Fish) and Wood-Made Products.
  3. Tertiary IndustriesMercantile, Fishing and Military Ports, Restaurants, News Media (Ferrol TV/Diario de Ferrol), Hotels (Barceló Almirante/Pazo Libunca), Leisure and Tourism (World Surf Competitions, Popular Transatlantic Steamships Stop), Consulting, Health Care/Hospitals (Arquitecto Marcide Hospital Complex), Education (Schools, Colleges/ESENGRA and Universities/UNED/PERITOS) and Public Utilities, Franchises (main brand names and designer label's shops), Wholesale (Navy Suppliers/Anton-Martin) and Retail Industries (El Corte Inglés/Alcampo).
  4. Quaternary Sector IndustriesNaval, Electrical and Mechanical Equipment together with New Technologies (Galician Centre for Innovations and Services CIS-FERROL).

Sister Cities

Spain Mondoñedo, Spain (2004)
Spain Lugo, Spain (2000)
Australia Adelaide, Australia (2010)

See also


Notable Galicians born in Ferrol

Life, culture and industry in Ferrol

Partial view of the Navantia Shipyards in Ferrol - In the middle ground of the picture an oil tanker is being repaired - Ferrolterra

History of Galicia and Ferrol


  1. ^ NAVANTIA Spanish Company, Leader in Military Shipbuilding (English)
  2. ^ Ferrol Maritime Province - Registration Ensign 2001 (English)
  3. ^ Revista Naval: The Spanish Navy’s Web-based and Ferrol Published Official Magazine Since the early 1990s (Spanish)
  4. ^ "Ferrol-San Cibrao Port Authority" (English)
  5. ^ (Britoniensis ecclesiae episcopus) Mailoc or Maeloc was the bishop of Britonia who participated in the Second Council of Braga (572). (English)
  6. ^ Official Web-site of the Diocese of Ferrol-Mondoñedo (Spanish)
  7. ^ Interesting document showing the royals of Spain from 1492 till 1805: Spanish Empire (English)
  8. ^ Alonso Pita da Veiga the most heroic Spaniard at the Battle of Pavia (Italy) 1525 (Spanish)
  9. ^ “History of Ferrol” (1846) El Ferrolano Newspaper, 10th February 1846, no.1, Front Cover: Ferrol
  10. ^ UNESCO World Heritage List: El Ferrol (Submission Papers) 27/04/2007. (English)
  11. ^ Route taken by the Spanish Armada 1588 which sought refuge in Ferrol (English)
  12. ^ The City and Naval Station of El Ferrol during the Reign of Charles III of Spain by the Dutch pilot Hugh Debbieg ( 1731-1810) (English)
  13. ^ "Ferrol." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. (English)
  14. ^ Vessels Blockading various French and Spanish ports - May 1805. (English)
  15. ^ "The Armies of Europe, Spain as a War Making Power" (1858) The New York Times, 6th February 1858, Page 4, 1074 words: New York <<At the famous station of Ferrol, for instance, where fourteen great line-of-battleships had been launch in four years... but two were built between 1794 and 1845. In 1852 the Spanish Navy numbered 124 vessels in active service...>> (English)
  16. ^ "Entrance into Ferrol of the Government Troops" (1872) The New York Times, 16th October 1872, Page 1, 554 words: New York <<Madrid, Oct. 15.-The Captain-General of Galicia entered Ferrol Sunday Night with a body of government troops. He now holds the town, awaiting the arrival of reinforcements en route from Santander and Gijon, and with his increased force expects to crush the insurrection without shedding of blood.>> (English)
  17. ^ "Serious Disorders in Spain at Ferrol" (1899) The New York Times, 25th September 1899, Page 1, 88 words: New York <<Mob of 3,000 stone Catholic Club at Ferrol... Dispersed by Gards... Martial Law Proclaimed>> (English)
  18. ^ "Great Activity at Ferrol" (1898) The New York Times, 11th June 1898, Page 1, 129 words: New York (English)
  19. ^ The launch of “Cardenal Cisneros” the first “Pre-dreadnought battleship” built in Ferrol, Spain (1897) "The Ferrol and the Galician-rias commercial-role with North, South and Central America":El Correo Gallego (Spanish Newspaper) 19th March 1897by Jose R. de Trujillo, Spanish Royal Navy Commander (Spanish)
  20. ^ "SPANISH NAVY: Huge Contract in British Hands" (1909) The Manchester Guardian, 1st February 1909, Page 12: Manchester <<... Vickers, Armstrong and Brown... it has been determined to put down a new shipyard at Ferrol in Spain... Mr A J Campbell... has been appointed manager of the Ferrol yard... Mr Peter Muir ... has been appointed assistant manager. A considerable number of expert shipbuilders have sign on to go to Spain... there is a reason to believe that employment will be found to some hundreds of British shipbuilders, engineers, electricians, and other tradesmen in the new Spanish yard for several years to come.>> (English)
  21. ^ "British Vice-Consulate at Ferrol": General Correspondence FO 63/1041. The National Archives - Official Web-site (English)
  22. ^ "British Vice-Consulate at Ferrol": General Correspondence FO 72/1689. The National Archives - Official Web-site (English)
  23. ^ "British Sending Troops" (1936) The New York Times, 22th July 1936, Page 3, 110 words: New York <<The destroyer Witch was proceeding to Ferrol, Spain, and the destroyer Wren will go to Corunna the Admiralty announced.>> (English)
  24. ^ Shipbuilding crisis after the arrival of democracy in Spain "Ferrol Shipyards":Financial Times 19th Octuber 1984 (English)
  25. ^ “Fridtjof Nansen class frigates” during one of the final stages for completion in Ferrol (English)
  26. ^ Views of the new outer-port of Ferrol, an intermodal freight transport port design to suit the new needs (English)
  27. ^ John Pike. "Spanish Navy (Armada)". Globalsecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/es-navy.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-27.  (English)
  28. ^ NATO Maritime Exercise Loyal Mariner (RN) in June 2008 accessdate=2008-11-27 (English)
  29. ^ "weather.uk.msn.com". http://weather.uk.msn.com/monthly_averages.aspx?&wealocations=wc%3a9979&setunit=F. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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