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A really special lighthouse

The emblematic Tower of Hercules is not only the symbol of A Coruna (Galicia), the city where it is placed, but the oldest lighthouse of the world that is still working. Its beautiful facade, its story and the unique views that can be obtained from the top of the Tower, make it receive thousands of visitors every year. In addition, this lighthouse is also famous for having been declared World Heritage site.

The Tower of Hercules was built by the Romans in the 1st Century A.D. and it received the name of Farum Brigantium. It is 55 metres high and the rock it is built on rises 57 metres. 34 metres of the tower were built by the Romans, whereas the other 21 meters correspond to a restoration made in 1788 by the architect Eustaquio Giannini. This restoration was ordered by King Carlos IV and it consisted on building an enclosing facade to the old building; after this work was finished, the result was the current Tower of Hercules. Some archaeological excavations released in the 1990s made it possible to see Roman foundations of the Tower.

It is known that this lighthouse has been relevant since its construction, as it has appeared in several written document since then. Although there are inscriptions on the foundation base which refer to Sevius Lupus, a Roman engineer, there have been many fake stories and myths related to it. The most popular legend regarding the story is related to the mythical hero Hercules, who was supposed to fight with a giant called Geryon. He won the battle and he buried his head and then he ordered to build a tower right there to celebrate his victory. It is said that Hercules ordered to put a magic mirror in the tower in order to help inhabitants of the city to see what boats were going to visit them. This myth was written in the chronicle of King Alfonso X in the 13th century. There is also a Celtic legend that says that Galician people could see Ireland from the top of the Tower and this encouraged them to travel to Ireland. It is obvious that these legends are not true, but what is real is that the Tower of Hercules has existed and has been important for a long time, becouse the oldest written text found about it  was written in 425 A.D. This was what can be read from the text: “Right, one of the views you can enjoy if you scale the towers many internal steps (and pay the admission). This particular view looks back towards the part of A Coruna city that encircles the bay of Orzan and you can see the coast tracing promenade as it rounds the headland.”P1100241

The Tower of Hercules was declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO the 27th of June of 2009 in Seville. People in Galicia celebrated this day happily and proud of the achievement. The Galician president said “Galicians had a dream, we put all our emphasis on it and we achieved it. The spirit of the Tower of Hercules give light to us for the future.”Nowadays, the Tower is considered a “must see” for the visitor of the beautiful city of A Coruna. The Tower of Hercules is surrounded by a completely natural environment: rocks, gardens, the see… and it gives the opportunity to see the whole city from its top.

References:

El Mundo(2009.06.27) La Torre de Hércules, Patrimonio de la Humanidad. In elmundo.es retrieved 2012.12.12 from http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2009/06/27/cultura/1246122133.html

Esteban Iglesias Noya (2009.05.15) Leyendas de la Torre de Hércules (Coruña). In Turismo Enxebre retrieved 2012.12.10 from http://www.turismoenxebre.com/2009/05/leyendas-de-la-torre-de-hercules-coruna.html

Ayuntamiento de A Coruña. Torre de Hércules, simbolo de la ciudad, faro de la Humanidad. In Ayuntamiento de A coruña -Concello da Coruña retrieved 2012.12.12 from http://coruna.es/torredehercules

Galicia Guide. The Tower of Hercules (La Torre de Hércules). In Galicia Guide retrieved 2012.12.12 from http://www.galiciaguide.com/Tower-of-hercules.html
UNESCO. Tower of Hercules. Retrieved 2012.12.10 from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1312
Categories: Arts, History
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