Cabo Prior Battery – Ferrol, Spain - Atlas Obscura

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Cabo Prior Battery

Ferrol, Spain

Crumbling World War II-era gun emplacements still stand near lighthouses on the Spanish coast. 


The road from Ferrol to Faro de Cabo Prior is winding and narrow. It undulates with woods, bent trees, and uncultivated fields alongside. The lighthouse, or faro, soon appears on the horizon set on barren, windy terrain. Near the car park, a large blue sign states this is Faro 03220. A few meters on, the road leads to a large building with the lighthouse behind. It guards the so-called “Coast of Death” with its flashing light, but there is not much to see here except the wild Atlantic Ocean, white-crested waves, and the occasional sailboat passing by. Returning to the car park something on the left side catches the eye. Strange low-lying concrete buildings that do not appear on any map or signpost. What can this be?

A few kilometers north, Faro de Punta Frouxeira is reached on another headland with the same barren, windy landscape and large blue sign. This is Faro 0321, a huge seven-story concrete structure with blue painted edges at an elevation of 75 meters. Over to the right, there is a depression in the ground. What is this? In fact, the depression leads to a long dark tunnel with many large rooms off to each side. The tunnel branches to level concrete platforms cut in a vertical cliff face, facing the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay. Deliberately hidden from the view of a casual visitor, this is a big surprise.

These concrete installations are part of a coastal battery that dates back to the Second World War. The gun emplacements at Cabo de Prior sit on both sides of the road, high up on a hill and low down by the sea. The first things to be found are concrete sentry boxes. Next large accommodation buildings appear, thin rusty metal frames holding crumbling brick walls. Another block consisting of canteen, communal rooms and game rooms can all be identified. The main gun emplacements, about 10 in total, protrude against the blue skyline. One group of four is together on one level, the others scattered around. With vegetation disguising the outline, getting close is the only way of discovering a bunker. Fixed to the concrete are metal gun turntables. Graffiti is everywhere, a surreal decoration.

There are many other such installations along the coast of Asturias and Galacia deliberately hidden and difficult to find. An adventurer should aim for a lighthouse, on the northwest tip of Spain, on a windy promontory, hidden in undulations or sand dunes. Don’t bother asking the tourist office.

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