Port of Ribadeo historical background

The first location of the commercial port of Ribadeo may be placed today nearby the fishing port and yatch sport leisure area. During the Reconquest period the port of Ribadeo became one of the most lively and intensive ports in Northern Spain. According to some historical documents wines, foods and woollens were the most often embarking goods at the port of Ribadeo.

In that period goods proceeding from Middle Asia were discharged at the ports of Tarragona and Tortosa and transhipped  Ebro´s River up to the ports of Santander and Ribadeo for reembarking to a final destination to the Loira and Sena regions.

In the 15th Century the port of Ribadeo became one of the usual ports in Galicia which were allowed for the embarking and disembarking of goods. During that period there was a lively timber industry for the shipbuilding and shipyards at Ribadeo. 

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In the 1/3 of the 18th Century the sea trade with other countries dropped off considerably since any voyage on a maritime adventure was often threataned by the piracy attacks.

Nevertheless during the second half of the 18th Century, sea trade business and commercial transactions grew up notably due to the good geographical situation of the port for maritime navigation in Northern Europe. Linen and hemp from the Baltic Sea and Holland respectively were the most imported goods through Ribadeo´s port, with a final destination to some manufacturing industries placed in Mondoñedo and Lugo. In the last third of the 18th Century Ribadeo village had become the most important port in the Maritime District. 

On that period fishing and farming exploitation contributed to an important development of the maritime business and trade strenghted by a rich forestry which supported a wooden and shipbuilding industry.

Products such as wine and cereals from France, liquours and spirits (well known as "kummel") from the Baltic Sea, codfish from Terranova, manufacturated textile produts, raw sugar and salt from Portugal, iron ore from Sweden...were imported from those countries which brought to scene a lot of consular officies from abroad as well as the foundation of many foreign commercial firms.

For that period we have to appoint some remarkable figures from commercial firms and shipping trade industry such as Cenzano, Campoamor, Villamil, Marchamalo, however being the most famous merchant Antonio Raimundo Ibáñez.  Wines, spirits and linen are the most usual import goods, and wines and liquors from Catalonia are basically the usual goods to export.

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The great activity on shipping and commercial trade resulted on a huge increase on taxes income which lead to the Ribadeo´s Customs House to be considered one of the most relevant in Galicia joined to El Ferrol and La Coruña. However the same experienced a "dark" period later on when some Royal Orders drastically reduced its dispatches to a short number of acts of commerce only. Of course Raimundo Ibañez  was totally contrary to these Orders and he would seriously fight to revoke them.

However  the "Golden Century" for maritime navigation and carriage of goods by sea through Ribadeo´s port  was middle years of 19th Century when there was a reagular route for great sailing boats from and to the Baltic Sea, Antilles, Rio de la Plata, Philipines...This age was known as the "Romantic Sailing period", on which the "Sociedad de Fomento Ribadense" (Ribadeo´s Promotional Society) was founded as well as the Ribadeo´s Nautical School which teached and trained to such a plenty of native sailors in the Eo´s estuary. At that time some relevant Shipowners Firms as Bengoechea and Casas established their residence at Ribadeo.

Along that period Ribadeo village was considered as follows: the Capital of the Maritime District, the Heading of the Court of Justice Department, the main Custom House in the Lugo´s District; the Head Office for the Police Department; the main residence for the consular and viceconsular delegations from other European and American countries. Furthemore the port raised its prestige due to  the excellent geographic situation and conditions for maritime navigation with Northern Europe.

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However carriage of goods by sea suddenly came down into a crisis period which caused a shortage income in Custom´s rights, being also a consequence that the following shipowners generation started leaving from the shipping industry.

But at the begining of the 20th Century a coast-to-coast sea traffic started again since the road links between Northern Galicia and the rest od Spain were very bad due to the mountainous Galicia countryside. Thus most of the greatest ports received farming products either from the countryside or even from abroad, which later some small sailing boats made delivery of them from all over port-to-port coast .

El cargadero de mineral (hoy conocido como "El Cargadero" y siendo en la actualidad una espléndida área recreativa) comenzó a funcionar en el año 1903, con la creación de la Sociedad Minera de Villaodrid, y de la mano del gran emprendedor Julio M. de Lazúrtegui y González, con un ferrocarril de 35 kms de recorrido que partía desde la minas de hierro de Villaodrid y terminaba en el embarcadero de mineral de Ribadeo. Este mineral se exportaba a países de Europa como Holanda, Alemania, Inglaterra o Francia. Las épocas de mayor esplendor fueron la anterior a la Primera Guerra Mundial, y la que transcurre desde los años 20 al 30, ya que posteriormente con el inicio de la Guerra Civil  y de la Segunda Guerra Mundial comenzó a decaer paulatinamente.

In 1903 the Sociedad Minera de Villaodrid (the Villaodrid Mineral Company) started to export Iron ore proceeding from their mines at Villaodrid placed at 35 kms. Thanks to the project and idea of the engineer Mr. Julio M. de Lazúrtegui y González, the mineral was carried out by train in vagoons from the Villaodrid´s Iron Mines to the wharf at Ribadeo´s port, in order to be loaded directly on ships trhough a big super-structure with an ending device which directly dropped off the cargo on vessel´s hold. That big superstructure was popularly named "El Cargadero", being today a recreational and touristic area.

Iron ore was exported to european countries such as Holand, Germany, England and France. The greatest productive period was previously to the begining of the 1st World War, as well as during the course of the period between 1920-1930. Nevertheless once the Spanish Civil War and 2nd World War started, Iron ore exports of iron commenced slowly to decrease.

During that period a railway project was also studied to link Ribadeo´s wharf to the Coal and Iron Mines in El Bierzo (León), but regretably  it didn´t suceed..Till the mids 20th Century sea traficcs of wood pine and eucaliptus were the most usual cargoes since they were used to construct  galleries and stuctures in Mines. Salt cargoes were also usual for food keeping and also there was a considerably demand on fertilizers and manufacturing table of wood pine.

The usual vessels loading for that period were about 60, 70 and 100 tons of deadweight, working on a coast-to-coast regime. The own vessels means and equipment were used by dockers for loading and discharge operations.

Presently the port of Mirasol has experienced an increasing demand on sea traffics. 


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