Biscay Cruise (Part 3): La Coruna, Spain

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Crystal City

La Coruna is a port city in the Galicia region of Spain.  It has a well deserved nickname of “The Crystal City,” owing to its 19th Century glassed-in balconies. These are especially prevalent along the Avenida de la Marina in the Centro Historico. This is a really beautiful area, and the glassed balconies do give the impression of a crystal city. The effect from a distance is amazing, but even up close the architecture and long lines of glass-work are really something to see. Unfortunately, when viewing the area up close, there is a lot of graffiti at ground level.

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The Wedding Cake

Another architectural “must see” is A Terraza, near the marina.  This beautiful structure  lives up to its local nickname “the Wedding Cake.” It is a marvelous building, and the more one looks at it, the more amazing features can be discovered.

Before making this journey, I was aware of the strong regional identity of the Catalans.  I was unaware, however, that other Spanish regions held themselves as similarly distinctive.  The Galegos are indeed proud of their Celtic heritage.  This Celtic link is shown in many regional characteristics, from unique drinks to the self-identity with “white witchcraft.”  Many market stalls and souvenir shops sell witch puppets as a reminder of this.

These witch puppets are interesting as they are used regionally on St John’s Eve, as part of a bonfire, not far off from the English Fifth of November celebrations.  Large fires are lit on mid-summer’s eve (much like the ancient Celts).  There is a twist, however, as these witch puppets are thrown into the flames to remember the “white witches” burned by the Inquisition.

Bonfires aside, fire has become an issue in this area.  With the economic collapse of Spain in the 1980s, the remaining industries needed to be maximised. This led to the large scale plantation of eucalyptus to support the areas paper mills.  These trees mature at a much greater speed than the native oaks, but they are far less fire resistant.  This has led to wildfires in the region.

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Tower of Hercules

La Corunas’ greatest feature is its Roman Lighthouse.  The Tower of Hercules is a UNESCO heritage site, and is the world’s oldest operating maritime beacon.  I wish I had made this journey before writing my recent blog on lighthouses, as it would have been sure to have featured.  This wonderful tower was built in the 2nd Century, and is 57 metres tall and is a fascinating feature overlooking the approach to the city. While it has been modernised, it still had its original Roman feel. It is a must see, though those with mobility issues may prefer to see it from the car park below, or from the sea.

Next stop Santiago de Compostela.

Padre

 

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