Tower of Hercules

A Coruña, Spain

The Tower of Hercules (Torre de Hércules) is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 km from the centre of A Coruña. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. It is the second-tallest lighthouse in Spain.

The tower is known to have existed by the 2nd century, built or perhaps rebuilt under Trajan, possibly on foundations following a design that was Phoenician in origin. It is thought to be modeled after the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Its base preserves a cornerstone with the inscription MARTI AUG.SACR C.SEVIVS LVPVS ARCHTECTVS AEMINIENSIS LVSITANVS.EX.VO, permitting the original lighthouse tower to be ascribed to the architect Gaius Sevius Lupus, from Aeminium (present-day Coimbra, Portugal) in the former province of Lusitania, as an offering dedicated to the Roman god of war, Mars.

The tower has been in constant use since the 2nd century and is considered to be the oldest extant lighthouse. The base of the building has 8 sides, the tower is 4 sided, continuing to be 8 sided with a final dome on top.

In 1788, the original, three-storey tower was given a neoclassical restoration, including a new 21-metre fourth storey. The restoration was finished in 1791. Within, the much-repaired Roman and medieval masonry may be inspected.

Myths

Through the millennia many mythical stories of the lighthouse's origin have been told. According to a myth that mixes Celtic and Greco-Roman elements, the hero Hercules slew the giant tyrant Geryon after three days and three nights of continuous battle. Hercules then—in a Celtic gesture—buried the head of Geryon with his weapons and ordered that a city be built on the site. The lighthouse atop a skull and crossbones representing the buried head of Hercules’ slain enemy appears in the coat-of-arms of the city of Coruña.

Another legend embodied in the 11th-century Irish compilation Lebor Gabála Érenn King Breogán, the founding father of the Galician Celtic nation, constructed a massive tower of such a grand height that his sons could see a distant green shore from its top. The glimpse of that distant green land lured them to sail north to Ireland. According to the legend Breogán's descendants stayed in Ireland and are the Celtic ancestors of the current Irish people. A colossal statue of Breogán has been erected near the Tower.

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Founded: 2nd century AD
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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Niyi Adeleye (12 months ago)
Any time I'm in the north of Spain, I come back to this spot, it's just magical, especially at sunset/sunrise. Personally I prefer the view from the nearby park rather than the tower itself, you can really see the waves crashing against the coast from there
Five star California (12 months ago)
The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 km from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in north-western Spain. Until the 20th century, the tower was known as the "Farum Brigantium". The Latin word farum is derived from the Greek Φάρος Pharos for the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The structure is 55 metres tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. The structure, built in the 2nd century and renovated in 1791, is the oldest lighthouse in use today. Babe Five star ☄️
Pablo Baldaqui (13 months ago)
Tower of the first century aC. Very nice place.
Armand Heijster (13 months ago)
It's was a pity that when we arrived we were told you need to reserve a ticket to get into the tower one day before. So we could not get in the tower. Still the area is nice for a walk and to take some pictures, you can find some sculptures as well.
MoHIT Jahazy (15 months ago)
It is essentially an ancient light house from Roman era. It is exceptionally well maintained and even works till day which is quite amazing. Mondays have free entry. There are open lawns around this place and many sculptures are there. Souvenirs can be bought from local vendors. Do carry a water bottle with you as there is no source of drinking water nearby. You can also see a giant trumpet which was used to alert the town if any enemy ship was spotted from the tower. View from to top is amazing. There is also an amazing sheltered beach nearby which is quite happening . It si also UNESCO World Heritage site and well protected. Very close is the aquarium which is not very fancy but informative. I really liked the way seals were playing happily. Be prepared to walk a lot. I also met a bagpiper who was really playing well and people were very generous with thier tip to him. Many foreigners were flocking the place. There is no restroom nearby so be aware. The top of the tower becomes a bit congested due to the crowd hence be cautious.
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Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.