La Coruña (A Coruña; Corunna; La Groyne), Spain
Situated on the extreme northwest of the Spanish coast, the portal city of La Coruña is the capital of Galicia. Much of the trade between Spain and its South American colonies passed through La Coruña. Flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on both sides, the region has the heaviest rainfall in Spain.
The city’s history possibly began with the Phoenicians. La Coruña was a port on the route of the Celtic tin trade on the way to Britain. The Romans arrived in the area in 60 BC and named the port Brigantium. It was later known as Ardobicum Corunium from which the city gets its current name. La Coruña was captured by the Moors in the eighth century, who controlled the area until the tenth century. The city was taken in 1002 with the defeat of the Arab leader Almanzar.
In 1386 John of Gaunt arrived with an army of 7,000 men to claim the crown of Castille in the name of his wife, Constanza, the daughter of Pedro the Cruel. It was from La Coruña that Felipe II embarked to England in order to marry Mary Tudor in 1554 and the Spanish Armada set sail on its way to invade England. Of the 130 ships that left on 26 July 1588, less than half returned to Spain. A year later, Sir Francis Drake, accompanied by Sir John Norris and an army of 7,000, sacked the town and destroyed much of the shipping.
La Coruña is the site of the grave of Sir John Moore, the Commander of the British forces during the Battle of Corunna in the Peninsular War. He is buried in the Jardín de San Carlos, situated in the old town. Moore was killed on 16 Jan. 1809; the British were forced to retreat from Valladolid to La Coruña, where Moore fended off a French attack but was mortally wounded in the process. The Irish poet Charles Wolfe commemorated Moore in his 1817 poem the Burial of Sir John Moore. Napoléon occupied the city of La Coruña for 6 months in 1809.
La Coruña is the birthplace of the novelist Emilia Condesa de Pardo Bazán. A fiction writer and essayist, she was made Professor of Romantic Literature at Universidad Central de Madrid in 1916. She was the first woman to be appointed to this role. The poet and novelist, Rosalía de Castro, was raised in La Coruña province. A nineteenth-century poet, she wrote in the Galician dialect. La Coruña was also the home to Picasso between 1891–95.
La Coruña is the second most important fishing port in Spain. It is especially noted for sardines, and is the site of salting and canning. Its other major industries include petroleum, textiles, shipbuilding, glass and tobacco. The surrounding province is mainly agricultural and La Coruña exports onions and potatoes. La Coruña is accessible by sea, air, road and rail while a ferry service connects the city with the Canary Islands.
Places of Interest
The city’s museums include a fine arts museum, a religious arts museum and the Museo de Arqueológia y Histórico. This building was originally a twelfth-century fort, which was used as a prison in the eighteenth century before being turned into a museum. Religious buildings include the twelfth century Iglesia de Santiago and the seventeenth century Iglesia de San Jorge.
The Romans built a 47-m lighthouse in 2 AD, the Torre de Hércules. It was later used as a fort and the lighthouse was restored in 1792.