A Short Pictorial History of Ribadesella

“Of where?” I hear you all saying.


Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain

Spain’s Best Kept Secret

Ribadesella is a small town in a spectacular setting at the mouth of the River Sella right under the Picos de Europa. Cliffs protect its wide sandy bay. You can surf, swim, go kayaking on the river or hiking in the mountains. Plus there’s a cave with 30 thousand year old cave paintings, practically in town.

Well may you wonder why you’ve never heard of it.

Perhaps because Ribadesella is the place where the Spanish go on holiday. You hardly hear a foreign word in the street. This is a different Spain from the Spain of package holidays.

Enjoy this short pictorial history of the town – brought to you by the Municipality of Ribadesella (and Waterblogged).

A Short Pictorial History of Ribadesella


When Ribadesella was not yet called Ribadesella… in fact, it wasn’t called anything. Nevertheless, you can observe the first summer holiday makers on the beach, the locals who begin to specialise into fishermen and reindeer hunters… and the artist together with his first critic in the cave before it was discovered by Tito Bustillo and his friends.

The Middle Ages

From Roman merchant port Ribadesella becomes the home port of whalers. And King Alfonso X, the Wise officially creates the municipality of Ribadesella.

The Renaissance

The Riosellanos use Breton salt to salt their fish… and sell salmon caught in the river. The oil of Ribadesella burns in all the lamps of Europe (including in the lamps of all those heretics). Whaling becomes a major industry, donkeys transport food stuff across the mountain into Castile, and the young Emperor himself (Charles V) visits the town in 1517.

The War of Independence

The locals defend themselves against the French fleet with the guns set on the clifftop under the walls of the hermitage, and the hospital of San Roque is established. The  town sets up its own regiment and the local Francophiles are having a hard time…


19th century: Many of the locals sail away on the brigantine Habana in search of a better life.

The Here and Now (Also Known as the Modern Era)

In 1898 the famous engineer Eugenio Ribera builds the iron bridge across the river; the 1910s bring the first sea bathers; in 1931 the first descent is made on the River Sella. During World War I, the port of Ribadesella serves as a refuelling station for steamships.

In the 21st century the Prince of Asturias – since then he became the King – visited Ribadesella (and owing to his height in comparison to his wife, half of his head has been left off the mural).

You might also like:
⇒ The Tito Bustillo CaveRibadesella, Spain: Secret Seaside

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