Ons Island: From Prehistory to the Contemporary Age.

» Prehistory

The first evidence of settlers in Ons coincides with the Castro culture settlements during the Bronze Age. The most popular of these, which is yet to be excavated, is located over the Canexol neighbourhood and it is known as “Castelo dos Mouros”.
The best known, still not excavated, is located above the Canexol neighborhood and is known as “Castelo dos Mouros.” The lack of prospecting for this fort implies that there is no record of Roman occupation on the island either, as they used to settle in pre-existing Celtic settlements.

The other fort that is known as “Cova da Loba” was located in the northern part of the island, but there are only remains of ceramics, tiles and abundant concheiros.

Recently, archaeological prospecting works have brought to light the existence of various graphic representations or petroglyphs that are ascribed to a historical stage between the 4th centuries B.C. and II AD, something almost unprecedented in an insular territory.

The Castro of Canexol.
The lack of prospecting of the fort located in Canexol means that there are no records of the Roman occupation of the island, as these towns used to settle in pre-existing Celtic villages. However, Roman presence has been virtually confirmed by the recent discovery of an archaeological site in the area surrounding Canexol. Its location, structures and materials are linked to the exploitation of marine resources during Roman times.

» Ancient History

» Middle Age

The Suebi and Visigothic occupation in Galicia left no trace in Ons.

However, the existing indications suggest a total depopulation of territory due to their attacks.

Pirates and Corsairs on Ons Island.
The Modern Age was a time of instability in Ons due to the numerous lootings and sieges of pirates. At the end of the 16th century the siege of the English corsairs began, in which Francis Drake was the best known and feared even by his own people; and also Turkish and Berber pirates. The lootings and burning of dependencies of this place ended with the flight to the coast of the settlers already entered the eighteenth century.

» Modern Age

» Contemporary Era

In the 16th century, the Church had given the island as a feudal grant to the Montenegros, but the constant attacks by corsairs and pirates during the Middle Ages made the island uninhabited in the 18th century. In 1819, the Armament and Defence Provincial Board decided to fortify the island, so that the Montenegro’s property was safer.
The Pereiró fortresses, from which only some stones remain, and the one surrounding the “Castelo de Roda”, located near the dock, are the most relevant remains from this period. The increase of security allowed for the repopulation of the island. The land was parcelled up and the government ceded these plots for the islanders to farm on them in exchange for a tax. The proceeds were initially used to pay for the fortifications. However, it was later handed over to the lords of the island.

Between 1835-1840, the first salting factory was installed near the quay and this changed the life of the islanders: they made fishing their main economic activity and with it they increased their population. When the company finally closed, they moved the sale of their catches to the coast.

In 1929, Manuel Riobó bought the island and installed a company for drying and trading octopus and conger eel, which meant that the islanders specialized in these species. In 1940, the State expropriated the island for national defense. Three years later, in 1943, the Ministry of Defence undertook it, intending to install a submarine base that was never built. During the 1940s and 1950s, Ons Island lived its most thriving period with almost 500 inhabitants. Its progressive depopulation over 20 years time was caused by the lack of improvement of the life conditions for the islanders. This is similar to what happened on Cíes Islands, and it came hand in hand with the tourism boom, especially relevant from the 1970s onwards. Today, Ons is the only Atlantic Island that still has a stable population, although there are fewer than 20 people living on the island.

For many years, the Isle of Ons has been known for several of its legends, which make it more attractive to tourists. One example is the legend of the famous Buraco do Inferno, a place from which it is said that you can hear the lamentations of the souls of those who suffer torment for their sins.

The island currently belongs to the Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Atlantic Islands and is a tourist destination of nature and gastronomy.



The ticket to your dream destination
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IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL TO THE CÍES ISLANDS OR THE ONS ISLAND FROM EASTER AND MAY 15 (EXCEPT CAMPERS), before buying the ticket, you must obtain the authorization requested by La Xunta de Galicia, in which they will provide you with the pre code -reserve (necessary to acquire the boat ticket).