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VIGO,Galicia » City Info » History

Vigo has a long history. The name Vigo comes from the Latin word Vicus. In the Middle Ages the small village of Vigo was a part of the territory of neighboring towns, mainly Tui and suffered several Viking attacks. During the 1st Century AD the Roman process was beginning and consolidated. Once the Pax Romana was established, it lasted almost six hundred years. Recent archaeological researches have indicated possible existence, at least between the 3rd and 6th Century AD. This concluded important human settlements, such as The Roman vicus, which coincides with the area where the historical Centre is located, between Areal and O Berbes streets.

Until around the 15th century, Vigo was not considered to be a real village. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was attacked several times. In 1578 the town had 868 neighbours, but the plague and the pirates destroyed the population. In 1585 and 1589 Francis Drake raided the city and temporarily occupied it, leaving many buildings burnt. Several decades later a Turkish fleet tried to attack the city. The walls of Vigo were built in order to protect the city from lootings, during Philip IV’s reign, in 1656. By that time, A Laxe bastion and San Sebastian castle were built, together with the chapel of the same name.

During this time and in spite of the attacks, the city of Vigo developed its earliest commerce and was given several privileges from the kings of Spain.

In 1702 the Battle of Rande took place and in 1719, because a Spanish fleet, which departed from Vigo attempted to invade Scotland, the city was temporarily seized by an English fleet. In 1778 Charles III ended the monopoly of the authorized ports to trade with America, and Vigo started benefiting from the large vessel traffic.

In the 19th Century, the French army conquered Vigo. However, the popular resistance resulted with the expulsion of the French military force. Due to this, people started recognizing Vigo as a faithful, loyal and brave city. Vigo was also the first city of Galicia to be freed from French rule, which is now celebrated every 28th of March as the Reconquista.

The city grew very rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries. This resulted in continuous urban planning changes, making Vigo less structured than other Galician towns.

The second half of the 19th Century was a growing period for Vigo. It increased its relationships with America. During this time, many factories of salted meat and derivatives from sea products kept on opening, which made the growth of wages and financial bourgeoisie possible. Vigo expanded beyond the walls and built new roads and important stone buildings. Now it is a famous tourist destination.

This large city is the main port of seafood in the world.