La Coruna is not just a city, but also the province that contains Santiago de Compostela. The other notable city in this municipality is Ferrol. The la Coruna province as a whole is the one most visited by holiday makers from the UK and USA.
General information about la Coruna
La Coruna is one of Galicia’s few genuinely prosperous cities and is a major sea port, although today it is used for commercial and passenger transportation more than as a fishing dock.
Historically the city has been the scene of battles and repelled invasions against the British and French and its coast has several sea facing castles that testify to these events. All of these castles are worth visiting. Today la Coruna is a large and modern city, but it still retains a link with the past in the form of its old town and the impressive area by the harbour that was once famous for the fishermens houses and now has many large glass fronted buildings. As a result it is known as the Crystal City.
What to see in la Coruna
Here are some of the main sights that you should try to visit if you find yourself in la Coruna. They are in no particular order.
Tip 1. Tower of Hercules
The symbol of the city of la Coruna is the Roman built lighthouse called the Tower of Hercules.
Parts of this structure really do date back almost 2000 years and it is the oldest working lighthouse in the world. The more adventurous of the building’s visitors can climb its internal steps and feast on the panoramic views of the cityscape and sea beyond.
There is a myth that connects the lighthouse with a giant, but the true history of this immense structure is more than adequate in itself. The Spanish name of the building is the Torre de Hercules.
Tip 2. Maria Pita Plaza
During one of la Coruna’s battles, this time against the British, a female folk hero called Maria Pita rose to fame and a square in the city now commemorates her. This plaza also has a rather spectacular building on it called the Municipal palace. The word palace is totally appropriate in the case of this building.
Tip 3. Glass City
La Coruna’s second most famous feature is the collection of glazed buildings that arc around its harbour area and have given rise to its nick-name of the Glass City or Crystal City. These buildings face the evening sunset and the name literally reflects this. The reason the facades of these building contain so much glass is because they have been built using a regional architectural trait called the galeria. This translates to a projecting balcony encapsulated in glass panelling.
Tip 4. San Carlos Gardens (tomb of Sir John Moore)
Of interest to many British holiday makers is the tomb of Sir John Moore in the San Carlos Gardens overlooking the sea. Sir John Moore died in battle helping the Spanish fight the French and is a provincial hero. These gardens are in the heart of the oldest part of town and are a good starting point from which to explore the rest of the city.
Tip 5. Sea Front Area
The popular sea front area attracts many of la Coruna’s tourists and for good reason. It has a castle, the remains of a Roman wall, a large commercial and leisure harbour, a modern museum, The Museum of Man.
This area was recently renovated to include wide walkways and it even has a tram system that takes you to the far end of the city, a definite plus since la Coruna is bigger and more elongated than Santiago de Compostela. This is an area or zone that you should take time out to enjoy and you should definitely take a ride on the “nearly” one hundred year old London trams that provide the most effective way of commuting along this coastal stretch.
Travelling to and from the city of la Coruna
You can fly direct, via Iberia airlines (Now called Vueling), from London Heathrow to la Coruna international airport. This is a new service may also operate to Vogo airport.
La Coruna is approximately one hour’s drive north from Santiago de Compostela, although there is also a train service between the two cities. The city of Ferrol is a short drive up the coast, whilst a little bit further away is the province of Lugo.
La Coruna has an increasing number of tourists on day visits from cruise ships porting in the large marina and it is well serviced by tourist offices in the old and newer parts of the city.