Saturday, September 28, 2013

NORTHERN COAST OF SPAIN and A CORUNA

The harbor runs into the center of Llanes
St. Peter's Coastal Walk
Spectacular coastal views along the walkway
The Green Coast runs along the northern border of Spain beside the Cantabrian Sea. Between the sea and the mountains is the lovely town of Llanes.   It has a medieval center, beautiful beaches and a scenic cliff top walk along the coast.  Known as St. Peter’s Walk, the seaside park was built in 1847 and provides a panoramic view of the town, coastline and mountains.  It also provided lookout points for spotting whales, fish and pirates. 
Unloading the day's catch
The colorful Cubes of Memory

Aside from tourism, fishing is a major industry in Llanes. One day we watched a fishing boat tie up at the pier and unload its catch for the day. The sea wall around the pier is composed of huge painted blocks  called the "The Cubes of Memory."  They are considered one of Spain's major works of public art.  


The Llanes Lighthouse
The lighthouse just across from the harbor was built in 1860.  Prior to that, bonfires were used to warn ships approaching land.  Good, dry wood was used at night to build high flames.  During the day, green wood was used so the smoke would rise as a warning signal.  Smoke signals were also used to alert townspeople of danger or the arrival of dolphins, whales and pods of fish.  


Basilica of Santa Maria
The Gothic church in the Old Quarter was built in the 1400s. It is a significant stopping point on the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela where we will soon be stopping.  

From Llanes, we drove west into Galicia, a province in the northwest corner of the Iberian peninsula.   Here we dipped down to A Coruna.  It too is in Galicia but the coastline has turned south and now runs alongside the Atlantic Ocean. 


Tower of Hercules Lighthouse
The Tower of Hercules stands at the end of the peninsula and the entrance to A Coruña harbor.  It has served as a lighthouse since the late 1st century A.D.  Built by the Romans, it was restored and augmented in the 18th century.  A World Heritage Site, the Tower of Hercules is the only lighthouse of Antiquity that has retained a measure of structural integrity and functional continuity. 
City Hall on Maria Pita Plaza
One of A Coruna’s other famous landmarks is Maria Pita square where the impressive City Hall is situated.  Adjacent to the old town, it is here that Maria Pita helped save the town from the assault of the English Armada led by Francis Drake in 1589. 
Promenade around A Coruna bay


At 10 km long (about 6 miles), the promenade around the bay and harbor of A Coruna was the longest in Europe when it was built.  We had a beautiful view of it from our room.    

Now we begin our journey inland as we gradually make our way to Madrid.