A Coruña: The History Told by the Buildings

It doesn’t take too much time to realize that A Coruña is a place with a long history. Here, a simple walk can take you on a travel through 20 centuries, starting in the Classical Era, passing by the Middle Age and the Baroque and arriving at the Modern Times.
The Antique and Medieval A Coruña

Romans and Celtics have lived in the region, leaving their mark on the culture, the imaginary and the land. The best example of that heritage is the Hercules Tower, the most emblematic building in the city. Built between the 1st and 2nd Centuries, it is one of the oldest Roman Lighthouses in the world and the only one that is still working. It’s true, even after 2000 years, the tower enlightens the way of the boats that approach the coast of A Coruña. The view from the top of the tower is worth the 242 steps it takes to get there.
But a visit to the Hercules Tower is only complete if you take a walk to the sculpture park that surrounds the lighthouse. There are 47 hectares of sculptures that explore several thematic lines, from the myths associated with the construction of the tower to the references to the world of the sea.

With a little stroll we can advance 10 centuries, arriving in the Old City, a place that transports us to the Medieval Era. The Santiago Church, from the 12th Century, is the oldest temple in the city and also a perfect example of the Romanesque architecture. From the same period, the Santa Maria Del Campo Church combines its architectonic beauty with the Museum of Religious Art, which houses works from a period between the 12th and 15th Centuries.

In the A Coruña bay we will find a small island where the incredible San Anton Castle was built during the 16th Century. This old fortress houses the Archaeological Museum, a place where the history of the region is told by objects that survived through times.

With a 35 minute bus ride (a little less by car) you will get to Betanzos, an historic location where you can find many examples of Medieval architecture, like the churches of Santiago, Santa María do Azogue and San Francisco.
The Baroque A Coruña

The Baroque style marks another period and another face of the city. The Church of Las Campinas has an impressive façade, while the churches of San Nicolás and San Jorge, both built in the beginning of the 18th century, are the perfect places to understand the Spanish Baroque style. To complete the Baroque Church tour, visit the Convent of Santo Domingo, a building that hides a chapel dedicated to La Virgen del Rosario, the city’s patron saint.

The Baroque style in A Coruña is not confined to religious buildings. Example of that are the City Hall and Emilia Pardo Bazán Stately Home. Here, the relevance is shared between the memories of the outstanding Galician writer, the beauty of the aristocratic house and the Galician Royal Academy, which occupies part of the building.

Another pearl of the Baroque style is hidden between the walls of the San Carlos fortress, which dates from 1843. The San Carlos garden is one of the mandatory visiting points in A Coruña. In addition to the green area, the fortress also shelters the Archive of the Kingdom of Galicia and the tomb of Sir John Moore, a British general who died during the battle of Elviña (1809).

The Modern and Contemporary A Coruña

If the Medieval and Baroque dominate the centre of the city, the coastal area is a mix between the traditional and the modern. Near the La Marina avenue, located by the sea, we can find the definitive proof that this city is defined by the architecture. The famous Galleries are enormous glazed balconies that we can find in a group of 19th Century buildings. They are a symbol of the city and also a mark of the innovation and modernity of the region at that time. Nowadays, everywhere, A Coruña is known by the nickname of “Glass City” or ”Crystal City”.

All modern and contemporary architecture aficionados must visit the Domus, a museum dedicated to Man. The futuristic building, designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, is known worldwide. In the centre of the city, El Coliseu is another great example of the architecture and engineering of our time. This multi-use building was born from a collaborative work between 4 engineers and 4 architects.

The Pedro Barrié de la Maza and Caixa Galicia foundations, the Museu de las Bellas Artes and the Courthouse Building are mandatory in this circuit around the best of modern architecture this part of Galicia.

It’s not only for architecture lovers, or even history specialists. The beauty of A Coruña will impress anyone who wishes to admire all the Man made marvels of this planet.