Some say it is the city of the sea. What is a land of culture and tradition. A prodigy of Enlightenment. Or the best kept secret of modernism. Ferrol is all that and more. Cradle of ships and sailors. And the illustrious Concepcin Arenal, Carvalho Calero and Torrente Ballester. But it is, above all, a city that, leaning on its past, looks to the future anxious to deploy its entire arsenal of resources to attract, and surprise, the visitor. And to the whole world, if it finally achieves its aspiration to be declared a World Heritage Site. Arguments to defend before Unesco are not lacking.
The voice of Galicia
Ferrol is the naval city for a reason. Born by and for the sea, and for the Navy, it has its greatest exponent in the Military Arsenal: an eighteenth-century construction with remarkable elements such as the Arms Room, the Puerta del Dique or the Bell Dam, the largest in the world. world in its time in the 19th century. It maintains its military activity and for years guided tours have been organized inside.
The castle of San Felipe is the other great pride of the city. The fortification, originally from the 16th century, but remodeled two centuries later, was part of the defense of the narrow Ferrolan railway: a chain was stretched at night to the neighboring castle of La Palma, on the other shore, to prevent the entrance of enemy ships. Currently, the rehabilitation of the low battery tower from the 19th century is being planned to house a permanent exhibition on its history. And it is, with the Arsenal and the batteries on the coast, one of the central pieces of Ferrol de la Ilustracin’s candidacy for world heritage.
The voice of Galicia
Fluffy carpets, golden chandeliers, thick draperies and maroon armchairs with capiton upholstery fill the ostentatious rooms of the Capitana Palace, still used for the accommodation of high military commanders. In it there are works of art inventoried by the Prado Museum.
Ferrol’s heritage hides other treasures: its industrial activity -Navantia has become another attraction thanks to guided tours inside-, the A Cabana tidal dam-recently restored- or its spectacular coastline, with large waves that beat the rocks and kilometer-long beaches, a destination for rest and also for surfers.
In Canido, the fashionable neighborhood, there is the commitment to urban art: more than four hundred Meninas versioned on walls and facades. The route has no beginning or end: you have to let yourself go. Large works in the dividing walls of buildings coexist with small reinterpretations of Velzquez’s work next to doors. All the streets are impregnated with this initiative born in 2008 to claim the urban regeneration of the neighborhood.
The center of Ferrol breathes in its two great urban lungs. The Reina Sofa, an old friar’s garden converted into a municipal park, offers a wide area for walks among trees and peacocks, the main attraction for the little ones. You can also see elements such as the Wallace fountain, acquired in Paris in 1889, or the stone busts of famous people that surround it.
Any time is also a good time to rediscover the Canton, take a picture with the Canalejas statue or in front of any other of its monuments: to music, to freedom of the press or the monolith of Pablo Iglesias, among others. Also to review the trees left as a souvenir by the teams that participated in that unforgettable Mundobasket in 1986: the birch of the then USSR, the olive tree of Israel, the catalpa of Cuba, the scar of Australia, -which also even offered a kangaroo- , the acacia from Uruguay and a yucca from Angola. Or the Himalayan cedar, which rises over the Aula de Ecoloxa Urbana and is believed to have arrived in Ferrol aboard the Nautilus corvette on its return from a round the world tour in 1894. The port area is a guarantee of enjoyment in the air. free, contemplating the movement of the boats and a walk looking at the ra to A Malata.
To enjoy Ferrol you have to look up. Towards the buildings that in the daily routine are just another part of the scenery, but that leave anyone who pauses for a moment to contemplate them speechless. Modernism in the naval city is equivalent to Ucha, the first surname of Rodolfo Ucha Pieiro, a municipal architect at the beginning of the 20th century to whom Ferrol owes a large part of its most unique buildings. Like the iconic facade of the Jofre theater, his star work. But dotted with A Magdalena there are about twenty other properties that bear his signature.
A walk through A Magdalena serves to soak up the rationalism of the Enlightenment. There are six parallel streets, crossed by nine shorter perpendiculars, in a layout with 18th century strips that turn strolling through Ferrol into walking straight and turning a corner. Not surprisingly, the neighborhood that is the heart of Ferrol receives the nickname of the chocolate bar, an urban description that is not very technical, but very graphic. The route can start from Plaza de España and reach Ferrol Vello in a straight line, stopping at Armas and Amboage, its main squares. Or deviate, but always at a right angle.