A Coruña – the city of glass

A Coruña (Sp. La Coruña) is a city and municipality in Galicia, Spain. A Coruña is the most populated city in Galicia and the second most populated municipality in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country. The city is the provincial capital of the province of the same name, having also served as political capital of the Kingdom of Galicia from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

An important historical port, it is located on the northwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula, in the middle between Rías Altas and Costa da Morte resorts. The city center extends over a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, so it has two different maritime facades: the port one (towards the La Coruña estuary) and the other of the open sea, towards the Orzán cove and on which the main urban beaches (Riazor and Orzán) are located.

A Coruña is nowadays the richest region of Galicia and its economic engine, generating 43% of Galician GDP and 58.9 of GVA, well ahead of the metropolitan area of Vigo, which generates 20% of Galician GDP and 12.97 for the Galician GVA.

The city is also located on the English Way a path of the Camino de Santiago. Tourism in A Coruña has increased in recent years to the point of receiving 62 cruise ships a year.

A popular part of the Atlantic resorts of Spain.

The glass galleries and balconies of A Coruña gave a name – the city of glass.

Tourism and main attractions

The city is the site of the Roman Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse which has been in continuous operation since possibly the 2nd century AD. It has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is surrounded by a large public park with a golf course and the so-called Moor’s Graveyard (Cemiterio do Moro in Galician, Cementerio del Moro in Spanish) a building where in fact there were never burials, Muslim or not, which now houses the Casa das Palabras (Galician for House of Words) museum.

The lighthouse features as the main emblem of the city’s flag and coat of arms.

The castle of San Antón is located in the port area, next to La Solana. It was built on what was then a small islet in the middle of the Coruña bay, where there was a small hermitage dedicated to San Antón. Its purpose was to defend the city from attacks from the sea. Its construction began in 1587, according to an inscription on the front of the fortress.

During the English attack of 1589 by the English Navy, the castle contributed effectively to the defense of the city, despite being unfinished. After the attack, its construction was continued until the completion of the works in 1590.

Within the Old City, the Collegiate Church of Santa María (also called Santa María del Campo) stands out for its antiquity and beauty. It is a late Romanesque style church (12th-13th centuries), classified as a collegiate church since 1441. It was completed in 1302, according to the inscription.

It has three naves and a single semicircular apse (typical of the Galician Romanesque of the 12th century); modernly elongated towards the feet; At its head there is a square and massive tower; it conserves a pair of statues of a Gothic Annunciation, although of Romanesque tradition, and a polychrome Maria Magdalena, by Pedro de Mena.

The Church of Santiago (12th-13th centuries), of Romanesque tradition, has a wide nave covered with wood and a chevet with three apses, modified in the 15th and 16th centuries. Ruins belonging to the convent of San Francisco are preserved, founded around 1214 and partly destroyed in the mid-16th century; later rebuilt in 1651, it was again destroyed by the explosion of a powder magazine.

It is in the Gothic style, with a single nave, a transept and three apses, pentagonal in the center and square on the sides; the naves are covered with wood and the apses by ribbed vaults. A great chapel nestled in the transept and an interesting doorway of Romanesque tradition stand out.

The St. George’s Church, Baroque in style, it is a temple with three naves, with exuberant decoration inside. The façade is clearly influenced by Compostela, with giant columns, and its outlines were given by the brilliant Baroque architect Fernando de Casas Novoa. A large rectangular hole presides over the composition, while the flanges recall the Jesuit origin of this architecture. In addition, the first attempt at homosexual marriage in Spain of which there is record evidence took place, in 1901.

Remains of defensive walls are preserved as well as three gates that opened the city to the sea along the Paseo del Parrote, facing the bay. The bastion known as the Old Fortress is also preserved, which is the current Garden of San Carlos. It is under the protection of the generic Declaration of the Decree of April 22, 1949, and Law 16/1985 on Spanish Historical Heritage.

The Old Town (Sp. Ciudad Vieja) is the name given to the oldest part of A Coruña. During the ninth and tenth centuries, the inhabitants of what was then called Faro Island (peninsula where the Tower of Hercules stands) were leaving the area due to constant attacks by the Viking fleet and settled in the area of Betanzos.

The Old City of A Coruña kept streets and squares that revive the city’s history and noble mansions and residences such as Rosalia de Castro’s house, located on Prince Street. Notable buildings are the Royal Galician Academy, the institution dedicated to the study of Galician culture and especially the Galician language, the Romanesque churches of Santiago and Saint Mary, As Bárbaras Monastery (Romanesque and Baroque) and the headquarters of the Operational Logistics Force of the Spanish Army. In July, a Medieval Fair takes place in the streets of the Old City.

The architectural complex of the Plaza de María Pita, presided over by the municipal palace of the same name, which dates from 1897 and is modernist in style. The Alfonso kiosk stands out in this area, also of a modernist character that dates from 1913 and is dedicated to King Alfonso XIII. Another building that stands out is the second Terrace, current headquarters of RTVE, which was built between 1921 and 1922, after dismantling the previous wooden building of La Terraza, which was transferred by boat to its current location in Sada.

The promenade (Paseo Marítimo) is nine kilometres long, one of the largest in Europe. It runs around the city’s headland, passing sights such as its Aquarium, the Estadio Riazor and the Tower of Hercules. There used to be a functioning touristic tramway, opened between 1997 and 2002, which ceased operations after a derailment in 2011.

Other buildings of great importance are the Port Authority and the Post Office, both from the 1950s, the Colón Theater from the 1940s and the Banco Pastor building, a design by Antonio Tenreiro Rodríguez, a local architect, together with Peregrín Estellés from in 1922.

The galleries of A Coruña, which have their best representation in the district of La Marina, but there are also many examples in the city and the whole region. These galleries are the ones that gave rise to the name of A Coruña as the city of glass. They are closed balconies with white painted wooden carpentry and a large glass surface that function as viewing points and are characteristic of the homes on Avenida de la Marina in La Coruña. The galleries are, in truth, the rear facades of the houses. They date back to the 19th century and have their origin in the appearance of the flat and cut glass market, initially manufactured in La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia).

The purpose was to allow sunlight to enter the interior of the houses avoiding rain. There are also wrought iron and cast iron balconies.


The Museum of Fine Arts: Museum contains works by great national and international painters of the centuries between XV and XIX. Its collections include Sketches by Rubens, a large exhibition of Impressionist painting, and religious paintings.

The Archaeological Museum: Located in the Castillo de San Antón, it was created in 1964 after the defense ministry ceded the castle to the City Council. It contains pieces of treasures from civilizations prior to the 10th century, as well as an exhibition on the life of the Spanish army from the war of independence to the reign of Alfonso XIII.

The House of Man, known as Domus: It belongs to one of the interactive museums of the city and allows us to see up close the workings of the human body.

The House of Sciences: General scientific museum in whose facilities the Planetarium is also located.

Aquarium Finisterrae, the House of Fish: There are typical marine species of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as exhibitions on tropical species, seals and a botanical garden.

The Museum of Sacred Art: Small museum whose headquarters is a modern building (Arch. Manuel Gallego) that integrates perfectly into the surroundings of the old city in which it is located. It has interesting pieces of silver religious jewelry from various schools, eras and countries.

The Military Museum: Contains models of the city’s defensive systems, as well as uniforms and weapons of the Spanish army from the 15th century to the present day. Related to the Canyons of San Pedro.

María Pita House Museum: The Life of the Coruña Heroine María Mayor Fernández de la Cámara Pita.

Picasso House Museum: The life of the famous painter, located in his old home, where he spent his childhood and studies, and grew up as an artist.

Clock Museum: Located in the municipal palace (La Coruña City Council).

Electricity Museum: Unión Fenosa Museum that occupies the same building as the Contemporary Art building.

Museum of Emilia Pardo Bazán: Former home of the Countess, today the headquarters of the Royal Galician Academy. It exposes elements of the life and work of the writer.

National Museum of Science and Technology of Spain.

Castro de Elviña: Protohistoric town located in the municipality of La Coruña, one of the largest in northern Galicia.


La Coruña has several kilometers of beaches in the city. The main ones are:

Riazor Beach: Located in the heart of the city and with a length of 610 m, with white and coarse sand, at the foot of the city’s promenade. Windy and with strong waves. Suitable for surfing and all kinds of beach sports. It is part of the complex made up of the Orzán and Riazor beaches, separated by the “La Coraza” breakwater, the rest of the old wall.

Orzán Beach: In the urban center, with similar characteristics to Riazor Beach, since they are located together. Also white sand, although finer. It has a length of 700 m. Blue flag.

Matadero Beach: In the urban center, next to that of Riazor and Orzán, it has very fine white sand, 80 m long.

Las Lapas Beach: At the foot of the Tower of Hercules, and 70 m long, quieter, with fine white sand.

San Amaro Beach: In the Poppy neighborhood, next to the Tower of Hercules and the promenade. 105 m long and fine white sand.

Oza Beach: Sheltered from the wind, with calm waves, it has fine white sand, and a length of 200 m.

Bens Beach: Located on the border with the Arteixo Town Hall. It is rarely used, given its proximity to the refinery, the WWTP and the Nostián waste plant.

There are also numerous small beaches and coves, such as Playa de San Roque or Cala de Adormideras.

Best restaurants

There are 15 Michelin list restaurants in the city:

  • Árbore da Veira, Parque Monte San Pedro, 50 – 80 EUR • Creative Cuisine (one star)
  • Salitre, Paseo Marítimo Alcalde Francisco Vázquez 25, 45 – 70 EUR • Galician Cuisine, Traditional Cuisine
  • La Taberna de Miga, Plaza de España 7, 18 – 35 EUR • Traditional Cuisine, Modern Cuisine
  • Eclectic, Oliva 3, 65 – 75 EUR • Creative Cuisine
  • NaDo, Callejón de la Estacada 9, 40 – 65 EUR • Creative Cuisine
  • Hünico, Zalaeta 12, 48 – 80 EUR • Traditional Cuisine, Modern Cuisine
  • A Mundiña, Real 77, 40 – 85 EUR • Galician Cuisine
  • Taberna A Mundiña, Estrella 10, Traditional Cuisine
  • Comarea, Carlos Martínez Barbeito y Morás 4, 30 – 50 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • Terreo, San Andrés 109, 31 – 45 EUR • Contemporary Cuisine
  • El de Alberto, Comandante Fontanes 1, 30 – 50 EUR • Modern Cuisine
  • Bido, Marcial del Adalid 2, 40 – 70 EUR • Modern Cuisine
  • Culuca, Avenida Arteixo 10, 40 – 85 EUR • Modern Cuisine
  • Asador Coruña, Alcalde José Crespo López Mora 4, 40 – 50 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • Artabria, Fernando Macías 28, 34 – 45 EUR • International Cuisine


The shopping centres in A Coruña are split into zones, and the Obelisk zone is the biggest of the shopping malls where all the usual designer clothes, sunglasses and everything else under the sun are available. Other malls include the Picasso district and Calle Barcelona.

Transport and how to get to?

A Coruña Airport, formerly known as Alvedro Airport, is located in the municipality of Culleredo, approximately 7 kilometres from the city centre. It serves mainly Spanish destinations, although there are regular services to London and Lisbon and, in the summer season, to Amsterdam and Paris.

Railway services depart from San Cristovo Station. The city will be connected with Madrid and Vigo by high-speed rail in coming years. Regional lines connect the city with Vigo through Santiago de Compostela and Pontevedra, Lugo and Monforte de Lemos. Intercity trains depart to Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, passing through many other important northern Spanish cities. There is a freight train station that serves the port.

Distance by car:

From Santiago de Compostela 50 min (74.6 km) via AP-9

From Madrid 5 hr 25 min (593 km) via A-6

Main information

Area: 37 km² (municipality)

Coordinates: 43°22′00″N 8°23′00″W

Population: 247 604

Languages: Spanish, Galician

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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