13th ~ 27th August – A Girl about Town!
Alan was away now for about a week and so with the weather set fair I had lots of time to find out a bit more about this beautiful city on the Iberian Coast of Spain….
I discovered that the two cities of A Coruña, Spain and Christchurch, New Zealand are one of only seventeen pairs of cities in the world that are almost exactly antipodal! (they are situated such that a straight line connecting the two would pass through the centre of the Earth!)
A Coruña is a the second most populated city in Galicia and is a busy commercial and fishing port too. It sits on a promontory of a large gulf on the Atlantic Coast and it is the capital of the province of A Coruña. It was the political and administrative capital of the region until 1982 when Santiago de Compostela took over these duties.
Nowadays, A Coruña is also a major destination for yachtsmen who are sailing south to warmer climes and
who are wanting to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. There were several yachts moored in the city marina who were en route to Gran Canaria from where the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) departs in November.
A Coruña is also a port of call for the cruise ships and several called in while I was there. They disgorge their passengers into the town, probably to the delight of all the shops and restaurants around the harbour. They don’t
stay long, just a day and then disappear as silently as they arrive!
Here is the P & O cruise liner, MS “Aurora” on her way out of port and passing the St Anton fort which is one of the navigation marks at the entrance to the harbour. I thought she was the most beautiful of all the cruise liners which visited!
Picasso was nine years old when he came to A Coruña from the family home in Málaga, Andalusia with his mother and two sisters. Picasso soon took an interest in art. Although A Coruña was where the seeds of his great works were sown, this period in his life is the least known about.
Amazingly though, he completed more than 200 works while in A Coruña, the one illustrated here is of ‘The Girl with Bare Feet!
Another painting he completed in A Coruña is the “Man in a Cap”
Picasso left A Coruña with several masterpieces but sadly with a heavy heart when in 1895 one of his sisters died of diptheria.
Picasso named his first daughter who was born in 1949, Conchita in his sister’s memory.
General Sir John Moore and the Battle of A Coruña!
In January 1809 Sir John Moore led the British troops against the French in a very bloody Battle of Coruña in Elviña close to the city where the General eventually succumbed to the horrific injuries he suffered as a result of being hit by a cannonball. He died in a house in the city centre, now a bank!
The San Carlos gardens in the city and overlooking the harbour are where the mausoleum guarding the remains of Sir John Moore can be found. He had always expressed a wish to be buried ‘where he fell’ The gardens are separted from the Sir John Moore Promenade by the sturdy walls of the Old bastion.
There is an oak tree close to the bust (pictured above) which was planted as a seedling from an oak tree he had planted in the garden where he lived with his mother in Cobham, Surrey – coincidentally a small town close to where I lived as a school girl!!
The Tower of Hercules
This Roman lighthouse is the oldest funtioning lighthouse in the world!
This is definitely a ‘must see’ when in A Coruña! My folding bike came in very useful for my exploration of the sights of the city, the lighthouse was one of them!!
The lighthouse is sited right on the end of the peninsular about 1.5 miles from the city, so an easy cycle ride from the marina along a designated cycle route.
The tower, overlooking the Atlantic coast of Spain is 59 metres tall, rising from it’s base which is already 60 metres up from sea level! There are 234 steps to the viewing area just below the top where the views are spectacular!
The lighthouse flashes a white light 4 times at 20 second intervals and can be seen for 24 miles! When it’s foggy it sounds it’s horn which is audible up to 7miles away! For us sailors both the light and the horn are invaluable as aids to navigation!
Since September 2008 the lighthouse has been twinned with the Statue of Liberty in New York and in June 2009 The Tower of Hercules was declared a National Monument and from that date it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Entertainment during my week alone!
The evenings when all activity has stopped can be rather quiet when alone on Musetta, but….
All was not lost! I was amazingly lucky to be in A Coruña in a week when free concerts were being performed in the Maria Pita square in front of the Town Hall.
Each day there was a concert at 8.30pm and they were absolutely free?! There was quite a mixture too. The first night was a pop concert which was great, the second night it was jazz, also good to listen to. The third night there was a symphony concert which made my heart sing. On and on went these lovely evenings which culminated with a performance of Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana which I know very well. I was so lucky and sat absolutely entranced by the beautiful sound for which I would have gladly paid!?
I had a great week which of course was made even better by being blessed with glorious weather! I met fellow sailors and exchanged experiences with them. I wandered through the streets which were enchanting, swam in the sea and decided that A Coruña is a beautiful city, I loved it!
Parks, Churches and winding streets full of restaurants!
Alan returned and we met up with our German friends who had arrived with their boat, “BigFoot” into the marina. We had a lovely dinner in town with them…
Steffi and Jörg, Alan and me in the Maria Pita Square after dinner!
Camino de Santiago – The way of Saint James!
We seem to have been following the pilgrims’ trail throughout our journey in Spain! It is an incredible phenomenon and I will enlarge on it in my next post….