If we go to Coruña for the first time, it is easy to get disoriented. How is it possible? If I go down this street I reach the beach, and if I turn around there is also sea. Is this an island or what? Well, no, it is a peninsula, and it is precisely on the isthmus that the center of the city is located. This also makes sometimes the feeling of having left a window open, something that is appreciated in summer.
A Coruña is a very lively city. It has a bit of everything: beaches, port, mountains, countryside, monuments, museums… All without leaving the town. Let’s see the obligatory stops:
Cantóns and María Pita Square. The Cantóns were built in what was formerly called Pescaría, the extension of the Old City. It is one of the most popular areas of Coruña, very walkable. In reality, there are two streets in a row: the Cantón Grande, from Rúa Nova to Santa Catalina, and the Cantón Pequeno, which continues to Plaza de Mina. They run parallel to the gardens of Méndez Núñez, in the Recheo.
Here are the foundations and the headquarters of the most important banks. Precisely, the Banco Pastor building, from 1925, was the tallest building in Spain until the construction of the Telefónica building, four years later.
In the Cantón Grande, almost beginning with Royal Street, is the Obelisk, a commemorative column topped with a clock, erected in honor of Aureliano Linares Rivas in 1895. It is a typical place for dates, just like the old Avenida cinema.
And crossing the Cantones we arrive at Royal Street, welcoming, pedestrian and full of shops. Among the houses that make it up there are many modernist jewels. Continuing along Rego de Auga, where the Rosalía de Castro Theater is, we arrive at the María Pita Square. By the way, if we go around the parallel street towards the port, we see the famous galleries of A Marina.
María Pita Square was built in the 19th century after the demolition of the wall, to connect the Pescaría with the Old City. It is a rectangle of about 10.000 m2, surrounded by buildings with supports and galleries. The protagonist is the municipal manor, finished off by Pedro Mariño in 1918. The other protagonist is the statue of María Pita, by Xosé Castiñeiras, from 1998, which pays homage to the heroine from A Coruña, who was key to defeating Drake in 1589. There are many catering establishments with rain-proof terraces in glass structures. Many concerts are held in the square, even by the Symphony, in the Classic Week of the María Pita Festival.
The Tower of Hercules. It is the symbol of the city. Present in the coat of arms and in the name of the people of A Coruña, also called Herculina. It is the only lighthouse of Roman origin still in operation in the world, from c. 1st century AD C. After successive remodeling, yes. There is a stone inscription citing Caius Servius Lupus of Lusitania as the architect.
After climbing more than 200 steps, we have great views of A Coruña and the estuary. And, as in the legend, on clear days we may even see Ireland. Since 2009 it is a World Heritage Site.
There are four routes that run through the surroundings: Campo da Rata, Punta Herminia, Peninsula de la Torre and Playa de A Lagoa. In addition, there is a park full of sculptures referring to mythology and the sea.
San Pedro Park. Mount San Pedro is so strategically located that in 1933 it became a defensive watchtower, with a battery of huge English cannons that, luckily, were only used in practice. In 1966 the military installations stopped working and, in 1999, the park was inaugurated. The huge canyons are part of it, like sculptures or viewpoints to climb.
The park has a battery interpretation center, a pond, a picnic area, a vegetable labyrinth, a car park, a restaurant, trails… We can go down the slope in the Panoramic Elevator, which looks like a bubble. There are also good views at the Atlantic Dome, a 360º covered viewpoint, with interactive content.
Science museums. In A Coruña there are three interactive museums that have a lot in common, they are the Coruñeses Scientific Museums. In addition to the permanent content, they all do exhibitions, workshops, courses… They are very entertaining and educational. There are special bonuses to access all three with a discount, and a flat-rate card for annual access to all three as well.
Sciences House, in the mansion in Santa Margarita Park, was the first, in 1985. It has a planetarium and three floors of exhibitions. In the stairwell swings a huge Foucault pendulum.
The Domus is the first interactive museum in the world dedicated to the human being. It has an open laboratory and the maker@domus, to do experiments and technology with our own hands. The building is by Isozaki, from 1995.
The Aquarium Finisterrae is dedicated to the sea. The most famous room is the Nautilus, which takes us to Captain Nemo’s cabin, surrounded by sharks, sea bass, groupers…
The Old City. Here is the origin of A Coruña, around the churches of Santiago, the oldest, and the collegiate church of Santa María del Campo. Then it was called High City. In 1984 it was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument, and years later, it became a pedestrian area. There are still remains of the 16th century walls: in the Parrote, in front of the Captaincy and in the San Carlos Garden.
In the Old City lived Rosalía, José Cornide, Pardo Bazán, María Pita… And there is the Royal Galician Academy and the Archive of the Kingdom of Galicia. Taking a walk through the Azcárraga Square, resting on a bench in front of the Fountain of Fame or going to the Bárbaras Square is something inspiring. And the most romantic space: the San Carlos Garden, with views of the sea and the tomb of Sir John Moore. And, if we want to travel back in time, we must go to the Feira das Marabillas, in summer, when the City goes back to the Middle Ages.