Bathed by the waters of the Cantabrian Sea to the north, and by the Ribadeo tidal estuary to the east, the town of Ribadeo lies in the far north-east of Galicia in the province of Lugo. It borders on the borough of Barreiros to the west and Trabada to the south.
The borough covers 112.3 square kilometres and is home to 9,704 inhabitants (Spanish Institute of Statistics (INE) data for 2007), which represents a population density of 89.1 people per square kilometre. It is divided into 12 parishes, 6 of which are situated on the coast and the remaining 6 inland.
The gentle low-lying landscape features sharp contrasts between the northern area, characterised by a vast coastal esplanade, part of the so-called Cantabrian platform, and the south, where the land rises up to the highest point in the borough, known as Mondigo Peak (507 metres).
Some evidence remains that testifies to the existence of ancient settlements in Ribadeo. These include the Palaeolithic site of Louselas (Vilaselán) or the fortified Iron Age settlements of Vilaselán, A Devesa, As Anzas or Arante. It was at one of these sites that the famous ‘Ribadeo Tiara’ was discovered, considered to be Galicia’s finest example of Iron Age precious metalwork.
Although the earliest inhabitants of Ribadeo settled in the areas known as Cabanela and Porcillán, by the mid-12th century the centre was huddled around Vilavella Cove, boasting a considerably high population density and a flourishing economy.
In 1183 King Fernando II signed the town’s charter, conferring a series of privileges such as the right to hold a market. Ribadeo gradually began to acquire the symbols of a town, such as the convents of San Francisco or Santa Clara (13th and 14th centuries). It later fell into the hands of the French knight Pierre de Vaillaines and became a county. As a result of a series of legacies and arranged marriages, this situation lasted until the 19th century.
In keeping with the long-standing trading tradition of Ribadeo and its port, and strengthened by the growth of the service industry in recent decades, the tertiary sector continues to be the driving force of the local economy, employing 59.3% of the workforce. The retail trade, the major transactions that take place in the port, government services, the professions, leisure and tourism all contribute to the economic force Ribadeo exerts on many of the neighbouring boroughs.
The secondary sector is the next largest employer, providing work for 24.7% of the workforce. The primary sector employs 16%, and is based mainly on dairy farming and forestry production, as the fishing industry, which employs just 2.2% of the workforce, is of little importance for the town’s economy.
Although Ribadeo’s greatest tourist attraction is unquestionably its beaches, the borough also offers many other spectacular areas for visitors to enjoy. These include the Port of Porcillán, Cargadeiro Viewpoint, the marina, the fishing village of Rinlo or the lighthouse on Pancha Island.
In addition, the borough boasts a wealth of cultural and artistic heritage. Highlights include military constructions such as San Damián Castle, or religious buildings, including Atalaya Chapel, the Convent of Santa Clara or the Church of Santa María do Campo. Furthermore the economic prosperity enjoyed by the area in the past is reflected in the numerous civil buildings, most of which were built by emigrants on their return from Latin America, such as the mansions known as Cedofeita, Ibañez, Quinta Longa, Torre dos Moreno. Thanks to these buildings and many others, in 2004 the town’s historic quarter was declared a Site of Cultural and Historic Interest.
Ribadeo is home to a wide range of natural habitats, both in terms of its flora and fauna. Particularly worthy of mention is its tidal estuary, which forms part of the Natura 2000 Network as a Site of Community Importance, together with the River Eo. Since 1989 it has also been a Special Protection Area for Birds, and a Wetland of International Importance included in the Ramsar Agreement since 1994.
In addition, its coastline is scattered with numerous beaches, the finest of which is undoubtedly As Catredrais. This most stunningly beautiful beach on the coast of Lugo, which stands out for the spectacular rock formations that are only visible at low tide, forms part of a larger space (297 hectares) running eastwards as far as San Miguel de Reinante Beach (Barreiros) and which makes up the As Catredrais Site of Community Importance, included in the Natura 2000 Network.
© 2008 Concello de Ribadeo