El Ferrol, Spain
El Ferrol has been inextricably linked to the sea for more than two millennia, being a major naval shipbuilding centre for most of its history.
From its beginnings as a tiny fishing port in the 1st century BC, it has gone on to endure a series of conquests from the Vandals, Suebis, Arabs and Christians. With the arrival of the Bourbons in the 18th century, Ferrol became a leading maritime centre, owed in part to its large natural harbour on the Ferrol Inlet, and arm of the Atlantic.
Growing as a large, commerical port, Ferrol is also the gateway to the northern Spanish province of Galicia, a region noted for its green mountains, deep gorges and fast-flowing rivers. It is also well placed for visiting the medieval holy city of Santiago de Compostela.
Interestingly, Ferrol's city centre is modelled on Lisbon in Portugal, a country with which it has strong historical and linguistic ties. The layout comprises of a rectangle lined with six parallel streets, with two squares on each side. These squares hold the city's best shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and galleries.