It is situated on the shores of the Cantabrian Sea, at the mouth of the river Sella and its bay is flanked by two hillocks, that of Somo and that of Corbero, from where we can admire a beautiful panoramic view in which the blue of the sea and sky are mixed with the greenery of the vegetation and the proximity of the Picos de Europa. In Ribadesella there were already population settlements since prehistoric Palaeolithic times, as can be seen from the important archaeological sites found in various caves and natural shelters with impressive representations of rock art. The greek Estrabón leaves us written references, dated in the first century, on the Salaenos, name with which the people of Ribadesella were known at that time, it also speaks of the Noega estuary that separated the Asturians from the Cantabrians. Under Roman domination, the river Sella also served as a dividing line between the Astur people, who are included in Lusitania and the Cantabrian people in Tarraconense.
It was in the thirteenth century when the town was officially founded by King Alfonso X the Wise by mandate of unification of the territories that were on both sides of the river, giving the population civil rights and a government that was under the auspices of the crown. During the 14th and 15th centuries, due to its innumerable sources of wealth and its strategic geographical location, it was a very coveted square and disputed by several noble families who came to take possession of the town until the Catholic Monarchs intervened and evicted them from their possessions. In the War of Independence, the French occupied the town and the port, and after a year and a half of occupation, they withdrew in June 1811. In 1865 the first wooden bridge was built over the river Sella, which was the scene, in the Carlist wars, military confrontation and would be replaced by an iron in 1892, being at that time, with its three hundred meters, one of the longest in Spain. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War it was dynamited and the present one was reconstructed in concrete in 1940. Today Ribadesella is a modern town where tourism, customs and modernity walk hand in hand.
Divided in two by the beautiful mouth of the river Sella, on the right we can walk through the historic centre which, crossed by the northern Jacobean route, has buildings dating back to the Late Middle Ages and by the central streets of the Gran Vía or Comercio.
The peatonalizadas streets of the old helmet of the locality, offer us real architectural jewels like the Palace of Prieto Cutre, present building of the Town hall, that is an excellent example of Renaissance civil architecture, or the set of buildings with arcades of the current street López Muñiz, old Street of the Square, where the house of Ardines is located. The parish church of Santa María Magdalena, from the first third of the 20th century, with beautiful mural paintings and the friezes of the main altar carved in stone, and its adjacent square, the old Plaza Vieja, are also worth a visit as well as the house of the Collado, known as the house of the Escudo, given that its stone façade exhibits a monumental coat of arms from the 18th century. In the Square of the Watchtower there is a beautiful set of traditional mansions, in addition to the Pixuecu house and the Palace of Atalaya. The Paseo de la Grúa, which began to be built at the end of the 18th century, has an area, with explanatory panels, dedicated to Asturian Mythology. At the end of the promenade there is a large barbican or roundabout built around 1830, in order to help ships entering port. From there and going up a path to the top of the Corbero hill, you arrive at the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Guía, a Renaissance building from the end of the 16th century and renovated in the 19th century, which houses the patron saint of sailors. This place is a splendid viewpoint over the village, the estuary, the mountains, the beach, the cliffs and the Cantabrian Sea.
It is also important to talk about the Port Route, with a curious set of six panels decorated with drawings by the brilliant graphic humorist Antonio Mingote. These drawings review the history of Ribadesella from prehistoric times to the present day. Crossing the bridge and going to the other side of the estuary, we find next to the beach of Santa Marina, the villas and residences where the aristocrats and bourgeois lived in their endless summer stays. But in addition to the beach itself and the architectural jewels that surround it, there are other important sites of special interest in this western part of the Sella, as the caves of Tito Bustillo and the Cuevona de Ardines are very close by, as well as the Cave Art Centre, an environment of Palaeolithic settlements with numerous samples of Magdalenian cave art. At the top of the Ardines massif we also find another stupendous viewpoint of the village. Adventure sports such as climbing, hiking and canoeing, among others, complete what Ribadesella has to offer.
In Ribadesella, which has almost lost the celebration of its patron saint, Santa María Magdalena, other traditional and popular festivities are celebrated and maintained with great expectation, such as in the month of June the festivities of San Juan, on the 24th, the festivities of the Virgen de la Guía are in the month of July, in August Santa Marina is celebrated and in September San Miguel. In addition, during the summer months, various fairs and concerts brighten up the days.
One of the most characteristic festivals is the one known as the International Descent of the Sella. Its origins go back to an excursion in canoe that Dionisio de la Huerta and a friend of his made there in 1929, by the river Piloña, affluent of the Sella. In the summer of 1930, one more friend joined the adventure and this time they went down the Sella from Arriondas to Ribadesella. The excursion was repeated year after year, and as always, began the competitions for the first places while trying to beat the best times, being encouraged and applauded by his friends from the road. Dionisio did not want to compete, just enjoy the river and its landscapes, and thanks to his position that did not become a simple race. Before the start of the race a few verses are read as a ritual "Keep the public silent, and listen to our word ...." Dionisio de la Huerta was in charge of reading them until his death in 1995. At the end of the descent and following the tradition inaugurated by Dionisio and his friends, the canoeists and the pilgrims travel to the Campos de Ova, three kilometres from the village of Ribadesella, where a multitudinous picnic is held, enlivened by folkloric and dance groups, and trophies are awarded to the champions of all categories.
In the historic center of Ribadesella is held the "weekly market on Wednesdays" which according to data was inaugurated almost at the same time as the town in the thirteenth century, so it is said to be the oldest "shopping center" of Ribadesella. It offers the public the vegetables of the council, the "fabes", chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts, cheeses, apple sweets, "pantrucos" or corn flour, with which the fried tortos are made and the "borona", which is bread baked in the oven and if it is filled with sausages it is called "borona preña".
The popular tradition of Ribadesella says that towards the 18th century, due to the great seafaring activity of its people and taking shelter in its whaling port, a certain activity was developed, by smugglers of the time, in which they disembarked in the beach of Santa Marina all type of merchandise, and that on the back of fast black horses that were confused with the darkness of the night, they removed them quickly from the beach avoiding this way the control of the port authorities. Being several people fond of riding, in a Holy Week in the late eighties of last century, remembering these old stories occurred to them, taking advantage that at this time of year there are no swimmers, their horses compete in a race on the beach of Santa Marina to see which was the fastest. This evocation of some rioseños fans has caused that year after year this already famous competition is celebrated.
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Ribadesella is in high the layout of the old national route N-632, which still communicates it with the nearby towns, as well as with the A-8 Cantabrian motorway that links Ribadesella with Santander, Gijón and Oviedo. Also from Oviedo we can arrive following the N-634.
Ribadesella has daily bus service that makes the route Santander-Oviedo and also brings you closer to nearby towns.
C/ Palacio Valdés s/n
FEVE keeps Ribadesella connected by narrow gauge railway through the Oviedo-Santander line.
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