La Coruña, or known to the Gallegos as A Coruña, is a port town lying on the north coast of Galicia and is said to be Galicias most visited city after Santiago de Compostela. It has an Atlantic climate, with wet winters and hot summers. It is much larger than the other provincial capitals and is considered the most important district in Galicia. The province is famous for its fishing villages, which you will find all along the coast. In the city itself, there is a minefield of activities for tourists.
The Romans came to rule in A Coruña in the 2nd century and the city was considered of great value due to its strategic location and focusing their efforts on shipping. Julius Caesar came to the region on 62 BC in search of a metal trade which initiated good business relations with Portugal, England and France. Here you will find the oldest lighthouse in the world, the Roman Tower of Hercules, which is still in operation. The middle ages in La Coruña was known for its trade in textiles. 1520 saw King Charles of Spain arrive to be elected Emperor. In 1598, during the Anglo Spanish war, La Coruña went through hardship when it was destroyed by Francis Drake’s British fleet. During The Peninsula war, it was used as a battle site in 1809. The 20th century was radical for the city due to post Spanish civil war when the population increased hugely. The 21st century has seen many revolutionary changes to the city, many of which it shares with Ferrol, a nearby town. Fishing boats are a main point of traffic at the port and this business makes up a large percentage of the city’s income. As well as fishing, oil tankers are often seen coming into the port. In the city, much infrastructure has been built to improve cultural and leisure activities.
The monuments of A Coruña
La Coruña has many opportunities for residents and tourists. There is a monumental area with plenty of churches and buildings, but many of the main attractions are outside the historical centre. It is said that the best way to discover this city is to wander and see where you end up, as there is so much to see. It is advisable to follow one of the three tourist trails. The first is the old historical one, the second is more focused on the gastronomy and the third is called the Picasso route, after the artist who lived here for several years.
The Medieval district and old town
The old city still has some of the original Roman walls surrounding it. In the old city, there are three major churches of importance. One is one of La Coruña’s oldest buildings, the Iglesia de Santiago which dates back to the 12th century, but had changes made to it during the 14th and 15th centuries and has generally gothic features. The Iglesia de Santa Maria del Campo, sitting at the highest point of the city is another important church constructed between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. It has a museum archive next to it which is well known in Spain. Like many Spanish churches in the region, it is a mix of architectural influences and this one has Romanesque and Gothic features. The third in this group of churches is the convent of Santa Domingo, which has a chapel dedicated to the patron of the city, La virgen del Rosario. They are all located within a short distance of each other. Away from the church theme, but still in the old city, you are able to visit the houses of Emilia Pardo Bazan, a Galician writer and Rosalia del Castro, a poet. The well known Constitutional Square is close by, where you will find a military building facing it.
Maria Pita square
This is considered to be the main square of the city, where you will find the town hall and the Council Building, some of the most ornate architecture in the city. It is often used for concerts and fairs and tourists are able to soak up the atmosphere at any of the numerous bars and cafes dotted around.
This is where to head for the city’s most prominent tourist attractions. It is an ongoing project with the hope that it will one day extend around the whole of the city, with a length of 8 miles. Attractions on the Promenade include Castillo de San Anton which is now a museum. You will also find the Tower of Hercules (see below for more information) and the main port of La Coruña.
The Tower of Hercules
This lighthouse is a gem of La Coruña. Dating back to Roman Times, there are many myths surrounding how it came about (and more importantly why it is called the Tower of Hercules) and this famous tower is situated not far from the city centre, and is very pronounced, standing high on the headland, dominating the landscape. Climb to the top to experience breathtaking views over the city and the surrounding area.