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The city is one of the starting points of the English Way path of the Camino de Santiago. Because of the modern requirement that pilgrims must travel 100 km by foot in order to be officially recognized, Ferrol is the preferred starting point for pilgrims traversing the English Way.
Toponym and etymology
The first historical mention of this settlement, then called Burum as well as Arotebrarum Portum in the history of Pomponius Mela, a Roman historian who wrote in the year AD 43 detailing a description of the Portus Magnus Artabrorum, the "great port of the Artabri". The current toponym Ferrol, though, can only be traced back to the Middle Ages; a document of 1087instances sancto Iuliano de Ferrol, nearby the monastery of San Martín de Jubia (12th century, in Romanesque style), where Ferrol is probably the local evolution of the genitive form of the Latin name Ferreolus; Ferrol was probably, in origin, the estate of one Ferreolus. In 1982 the government of Spain adopted officially Ferrol in consonance with its long history and tradition.
Alternatively, the name comes from the legend of a Breton saint, Ferreol, who arrived here on a ship, amid a chorus of seven sirens. Another tradition says that Ferrol proceeds from farol, alluding to the heraldic figure that appears on the coat of arms of the city. However, according to experts, the origin of the arms of Ferrol goes back only to the eighteenth century, and there are also several variants used over time, without having been set in accordance with the applicable legislation since the 1990s. The combination of two words that can mean either 'port - close', 'landing on pillars' or a Ferreoli Domini, "the lord of Ferreol", a veiled allusion to the town, which could have had a church under the patronage of St. Ferreol.
In 1568 a fire reduced to rubble the old medieval town; in the same period some parts of the existing fortifications at the entrance of the estuary were built. As a naval base, at that time the town was considered more important as a Royal Arsenal than as a safe harbour.
Ferrol is famous in the history of the struggle between the Spanish Empire and the British for being one of the only enclaves in the world, together with Cartagena de Indias, that always resisted occupation successfully: mostly, because 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 Spainwhere 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. Despite these advantages, a decline set during the reign of Charles IV, and in 1800, during the Ferrol Expedition (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. 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. The alliance with the United Kingdom during the Peninsular War of 1808-1814 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.
Ferrol only built two ships of the line between 1794 and 1845, although nine frigates and a considerable number of smaller warships were also built between these dates. And silent for half a century, it lost its title of capital under Ferdinand VII. However, there was a massive renovation during Cardinal Alberoni's leadership and in just a few years fourteen great line-of -battle-ships were launched. New activities sprang up and Ferrol was employing 2,000 workmen constantly on its foundries, now in full operation. A School of Naval Engineers was established where 40 pupils were learning the scientific principles of their profession, under a competent staff of instructors bred in England and France. So successful in bringing the worlds most advanced technologies was the administration of the Marquis de Molina,Spanish Minister for Naval affairs, that by 1858 the Royal Dockyards of Ferrol was launching Spain's first steam propelled ship which was the first iron-hulled too.
Art Nouveau building in Ferrol, designed by Rodolfo Ucha
During this period, same as it is nowadays, and just like it was in the days of the Armada, the Bay of Ferrol always attracted and still attracts numerous ships seeking repairs or refuge after meeting with disaster or rough waters trying to cross the Bay of Biscay on bad weather. Such was the case of Cleopatra, carrying one of the two Cleopatra Needles, the one standing today on the Thames Embankment in London, UK. It arrived in Ferrol on 19 October 1877 after tragedy and almost sinking off the west coast of France five days earlier. There is a plaque commemorating the event and those who died to be seen at the base of the Needle in London.
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).
In sight of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and because there was fear of social unrest in the naval station, the Foreign Office in London, organized a ship to repatriate all the remaining British citizens and on 22 July 1936 HMS Witch) departed from Ferrol back to Britain.
At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the shipbuilding yards, workshops, foundries and dry docks in Ferrol were taken over by the state and fully nationalized in 1945 under the name "Bazán", later renamed "IZAR", and, starting from January 2005, Navantia. The town was the birthplace of Francisco Franco, after whom the city was officially known as El Ferrol del Caudillo from 1938 to 1982. The end of the Spanish State and the arrival of democracy in 1978 did not help Ferrol, 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. A new motorway and an outer-port have been built as well as numerous arcades and shopping centres mostly in the outskirts of the city between Ferrol and Naron which basically is the same metropolitan area and young shoppers with their families tend to make their big family shopping as well as weekend day out with the family attracted to all the amenities like bowling, cafeterias, fast food outlets, cinemas and sports facilities.
The Ferrol Terminus railway station, connecting Lugo to Ferrol, branching off from the line from Madrid to nearby Corunna, was sanctioned by the Cortes in Madrid as early as 1865 but it took many decades till its final inauguration in 1904. A century later more of the same happened with the High Speed Railway AVE; so it took as late as 2013 till inauguration day.
From September 2017, a new local railway branch serving the outer-port of Ferrol (known as Canelinas-Ferrol container-port) the inside of the bay docks and the Ferrol Terminus railway station has been given a green light to start constructing and very soon operating I'm sure moving loads of modern containers in and out of Ferrol and distributing goods throughout Galicia and the rest of Spain and Europe. There was a similar small railway local branch operating here from the early years of the 20th century with the difference that at that time, Ferrol itself and its ports were intended solely for the Royal Navy and its shipyards, and henceforth not open to the general commerce per se, even though, historically, there have been many local exceptions like; PEMSA (Timber), PYSBE (Dry-Cod) and HISPANIA (Pencils) all three very good examples without forgetting: manufactures of hats, paper, leather, naval stores and hardware as well as other local items for export like: corn, wine, brandy, vinegar, pilchards and herrings(and other produce of Ferrol's own fisheries)
As in most of Galicia, Ferrol climate is a humid oceanic climate, characterised by year-long mild temperatures, rainy winters, and relatively dry summers, although slightly wetter than the typical Spanish mediterranean climate during the summer season.
^ abTofiño de San Miguel, Vicente; Mengs, Anton Raphael; Salvador Carmona, Manuel; Ballester, Joaquín; Vázquez, Bartolomé; Valdés, Antonio; Asensio, Josef (1789). Atlas marítimo de España [Material cartográfico]. Biblioteca de la Universidad de Sevilla. Madrid: [s.n.] p. 35.
^ abWilliam, of Malmesbury; Henry, of Huntingdon; Roger, of Hoveden; Ethelwerd, d 998?; Ingulf, 1030?-1109; Savile, Henry; Bishop, George; Newbery, Ralph; Barker, Robert (1596). Rervm anglicarvm scriptores post Bedam praecipvi. Harold B. Lee Library. Londoni : excudebant G. Bishop, R. Nyberie, & R. Barker. pp. 172.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
^Ptolemy, 2nd cent; D'Angelo, Jacopo; Nicolaus Germanus, 15th cent; Schnitzer, Johann; Hol, Lienhart (1482). Cosmographia. Boston Public Library. Ulm : Lienhart Holle.
^Young, Otis E. (1965). "The Spanish Tradition in Gold and Silver Mining". Arizona and the West. 7 (4): 299-314. JSTOR40167137.
^Spiering, E.D; Pevida, L.R; Maldonado, C.; González, S.; Garcia, J.; Varela, A.; Arias, D.; Martn-Izard, A. (1 November 2000). "The gold belts of western Asturias and Galicia (NW Spain)". Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 71 (2): 89-101. doi:10.1016/S0375-6742(00)00147-3. ISSN0375-6742.
^William, of Malmesbury; Henry, of Huntingdon; Roger, of Hoveden; Ethelwerd, d 998?; Ingulf, 1030?-1109; Savile, Henry; Bishop, George; Newbery, Ralph; Barker, Robert (1596). Rervm anglicarvm scriptores post Bedam praecipvi. Harold B. Lee Library. Londoni : excudebant G. Bishop, R. Nyberie, & R. Barker. pp. 174-178.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
^Tofiño de San Miguel, Vicente; Mengs, Anton Raphael; Salvador Carmona, Manuel; Ballester, Joaquín; Vázquez, Bartolomé; Valdés, Antonio; Asensio, Josef (1789). Atlas marítimo de España [Material cartográfico]. Biblioteca de la Universidad de Sevilla. Madrid: [s.n.] p. 21.
^This is a very special day because Saint Julian[dubious – discuss] is the patron saint of Ferrol. On this day all the locals enjoy having a gorgeous traditional sweet rice pudding following a local recipe as they have been doing for so long that nobody can tell for sure when this ancient tradition really started.
^On Saint Josephine's Night all the men of Ferrol take to the streets with their guitars and other musical instruments, wearing traditional gear design for purpose, to sing beautiful songs to every woman young and old, particularly those with the name Josephine or "Peppa" (which means Josephine in Spanish, hence "Noche de la Pepitas", literally "Night of the young Peppas").
^For "Corpus Christi"Ares and other localities of Ferrolterra, following an ancient Christian tradition, celebrate and rejoice plentiful in style, covering the main streets of their city centres with colourful flowery carpets.
^St. John's Eve (or Bonfire Night) is celebrated in all the parishes of Ferrolterra with the lighting of bonfires.
^This special day is celebrated in different ways throughout the different parishes of Ferrolterra; while some of them enjoy preparing beautiful floral offerings dedicated to the Virgin Mary pretty much in the "Corpus Christi" carpets fashion, others are more inclined to organize a small sea or land procession if not a food party.
^In different parts of Ferrolterra, particularly in the Sierra da Capelada where horse breeding is an important industry, there is an interesting celebration of Celtic roots involving food, music and horses. This is a "Rapa das Bestas" where the newly born horses are marked and have their hair cut as the major part of the event. Of course, the whole event and festivity is open to all visitors.
^Usually involves different activities like theatrical performances, rock concerts, fireworks and all sorts of organized entertainment.
^Literally, a re-enactment of the battle which took place in Ferrol between the British and the local Spaniards in the year 1800 where the British, the belligerent force, were driven out from their attempt to capture the most important naval station of Spain in northern Iberia. There were well founded reasons for the British to believe that the Spaniards were going to take side with Napoléon a few years later. And this was exactly what happened. (in Spanish)Website of the voluntaries from Madrid 1808-1814