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Published: October 12th 2014
La Coruna on the western coast of northern Spain 10 October 2014
After a very late start, we loaded our car at about 11.00am after talking to my Dad & Adam. The sun is not rising until 9.00am so it is pretty dark still at 8.00am - good sleeping conditions!!! Daylight saving in Europe doesn't end until late October and because this part of Spain is so far west, is the reason for the darkness. Portugal, which is just south from here, is on a different time zone - 1 hour difference. They are on the same time zone as London.
Once again, we drove on fantastic Spanish roads, again, some of them new which cut our hilly, winding roads over the hills and mountains of this area of NW Spain. Often we were travelling 130kph on the straight sections.....bit different to driving in our motor home when we were going very, very fast when we were doing 105 kph!!!!
We arrived in La Coruna (A Coruna in English) at about 2.30pm and drove straight to the Tower of Hercules. This is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 kilometres from the centre of A Coruna,
Until the 20th century, the tower itself was known as the "Farum Brigantium". The structure is 55 metres tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. The structure, almost 1900 years old and rehabilitated in 1791, is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today.
The Tower of Hercules is a National Monument, and since June 27, 2009, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We walked around it as there was no access to the inside of the Tower. We saw through a special glass section, the original foundations of the Tower and the additions made to the Tower when it was converted into a fortress.
We then found our Hotel Zenit which was a bit trick to get into due to a number of entries and exits to underground parks and tunnels in the area, but it was on the beach which was lovely.
A Coruna is a busy port which has 9 kms of beach promenade around the entrance of an estuary in a large gulf on the Atlantic Ocean. It provides a distribution point for agricultural goods from the region. We found out that this city is a sister-city to Christchurch in NZ.
Another interesting bit of information we learned was that the Romans came to the region in the 2nd century BC, and the colonisers made the most of the strategic position and soon the city became quite important in maritime trade. In 62 BC Julius Caesar came to the city (known at the time as Brigantium) in pursuit of the metal trade, establishing commerce with what are now France, England and Portugal. Oh the border-changing history of these areas is so complex over the past 21 centuries!!
The city is also well known for its characteristic glazed window balconies, called galerías. Originally, this type of structure came about as a naval architecture solution for the challenging weather, particularly designed for rainy days. This fashion started in Ferrolwhich is a city nearby in the 18th century when some of the technicians working for the Royal Dockyards had the idea of using the shape of the back of a war ship in a modern building. Soon afterwards, most sea ports in northern Spain, including the Basque region (where San Sebastian and Bilbao are) were adding these glazed window balconies to their city-port houses.
The Old Town includes the fourteenth century
the scarcely-surviving city walls, as well as three harbours. The harbour side promenade has recently been renewed but when we were there, as there are no restaurants or other such services, there were very few people in the area.
We also visited the very well preserved stronghold known as the Old Fortress, now converted into the Garden of San Carlos, in which Sit John Moore is buried.
Fortunately, the Old City of A Coruña kept streets and squares that revive the city's history and noble mansions which were fantastic to see.
We also visited María Pita Square, the most important square in the city. Notable landmarks around this square are the City Hall and the statue of the local heroine Maria Pita. The story of Maria is interesting. In 1589 British troops, who surrounded the city, breached the wall and began the assault of the old city. This was led by a lieutenant, with the flag of resistance in hand, who managed to climb to the top of the wall. María Pita killed the English ensign. No one really knows what weapon she used but some say that she used the sword of her deceased husband of
Maria Pita, who died in that same English battle.
The promenade, as I have said earlier, is 9 kms long but work continues and when it is completed, it will be 13 km long, one of the largest in Europe. It runs around the city's headland. There is a touristic tramway that covers this stretch of road but we didn't bother to use it.
That night it sprinkled with rain a little. After our walk around the town, we stopped to have a coffee at a chocolotiera, but I ended up having a chocolato which is virtually thick, hot melted chocolate. It's the 1st time I have had such a sweet drink. I felt a little sick after so it might be the last time I have one!!! We waited until 9.00pm for dinner so I could get over the sugar fix!@**
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