Tag Archives: Santiago de Compostela

9 September 2015
La Coruña, Spain: The Crystal City at the End of the Earth, and Santiago de Compostela: The Way of Saint James

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

La Coruña is in the autonomous community of Galicia.

In recent history, La Coruña was the political capital of the Kingdom of Galicia from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Spain has 17 autonomous communities, a first-level political division that came out of the Constitution of 1978 which was intended to retain the autonomy of the nationalities and regions of the Spanish nation.

On this visit,  we ventured about an hour south to the town of Santiago de Compostela, a place of pilgrimage for Christians for centuries.

We visited the cathedral,  saw the vendors offering walking sticks topped by a carving of a scallop shell–proof to some of the accomplishment of their peregrino or pilgrimage,  and topped it all of with tapas and a music and dance performance by a Galician folk troupe: Celtic bagpipes of northwest Spain.

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La Coruña is sometimes called “The Crystal City.” That nickname is derived from its many galerías, or glazed window balconies.

Naval architects adopted the design of the windowed stern of a warship and applied them as balconies to many places in northern Spain, including Galicia and the Basque region.

The first settlement was believed to have been on the peninsula that extends out from the present city, probably established by the Artabrians, a Celtic tribe.

Then came the Romans in the 2nd century BC.

They were attracted to the strategic position at the edge of Iberia, and they called the region Finis-terrae, the end of the world.

Its name in the Galician language evolved from that to Fisterra.

Under the Romans, the settlement they called Brigantium became important in maritime trade, and even drew the notice of Julius Caesar who visited in 62BC.

Commerce in metal and other materials grew, with connections what is now France, England, and Portugal.

Brigantium reached its peak in the 1st and 2nd centuries, but declined after the 4th century and especially with the incursions of the Normans, which forced the population to flee towards the interior of the Estuary of O Burgo.

It was in the 2nd century that the Farum Brigantium was built.

Farum is the Latin version of the Greek work pharos, meaning lighthouse.

The other name for the farum was the Tower of Hercules.

That tower, restored and elaborated a bit over 1,900 years, still stands on the peninsula about 2.5 kilometers or 1.5 miles from the center of La Coruña.

It has been in more-or-less continuous use since first built, and may well be the oldest lighthouse still in existence.

According to some, it may have been modeled after the great Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Text and images copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.


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