Some historical highlights
Not surprisingly, as an ancient town on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, A Coruna has seen and made its far share of history.
The present day city started its life as the Roman town of "Brigantia" (and later "Crunya") around 2000 years ago, but was also an important settlement in the middle ages where, in addition to its port and fishing, it prospered as a center for textile manufacture.
Invasions and war were common place throughout Europe during pre-history and the middle ages and during this time Spain and Galicia played their roles as defender, aggressor and conqueror.
In the eighth century an Arab invasion by the "infedel" muslims was rebelled and later Spain was to become a major sea fairing nation, exploring large parts of what was then the unknown world. The ports of A Coruna were often the bases from which these missions and explorations were launched during the building of a significant world empire and a domination, with the British and Portuguese, of the world's oceans.
The Spanish Armada
Famously, La Coruna's port of Ferrol is the naval base from which the Spanish Armada sailed during Spain's quest to conquer England in 1588. The mission, which ended in disaster, suffered as much from bad seas and poor navigation as it did by the onslaught of the smaller boats of the more able and better gunned British naval fleet.
Tragically, the victorious British sailors actually faired no better than the Spanish. The shameful British monarch (Elizabeth I) had no money to pay them and consequently denied them docking rights, thereby avoiding having to pay them once they set foot on dry land. The result was that two thirds of all the British sailors died of starvation or disease just a few hundred yards off shore, having been declared heroes by the murderous Elizabeth I at the time of their victory. - By the way I have a mild dislike of monarchy and nepotistic privilege – if you had not noticed.
It is a less well known historical fact that Sir Francis Drake (defender against the Armada) returned the favour and did in fact capture and severely damage the port of A Coruna the following year, 1589. His invasion force was ultimatel rebelled by the peoples of A Coruna, inspired by the city's heroine to be, , but not until it had been sacked of much of its treasures.
Unfortunately, some Galicians, like the French with the Battle of Waterloo, have tried to muddy the history books, and now claim that Drake's invasion failed. He is even described as a pirate and privateer. Regrettably for the Corunans, archives of what actually happened are held in various museums across Spain and Drake, officially representing the British Sovereign (and not a pirate), was in fact successful - albeit for a matter of weeks. Had this not been the case, Maria Pita and here heroics could not have been recorded (as she would have had no invader to repel).
Testament to A Coruna's sea defences can still be seen today in the form of numerous ocean facing forts including the Castillo de San Anton, the walls of the fort of San Carlos and the largely intact island castle of Santa Cruz.
Spain and Britain on the same side
The Coruna connection between Spain and England continued (this time fighting on the same side) in the 19th century when, after a battle against the French (the battle of Elvina), the body of the English General, , was buried in La Coruna in the Garden of "San Carlos". He is perhaps better known in A Coruna and Spain than in his own country, Scotland.
Today La Coruna is the subject of another, but less hostile sea invasion. This time it is the combined forces of the British and Americans who depart cruise liners at A Coruna to discover the city and use it as a departure point for a more wider exploration of Galicia. Coach trips depart A Coruna daily and take tourists all the way to , enabling their passengers to take in Galicia's spectacular scenery. Unfortunately, and to the tourists loss, A Coruna city is still not on the main tourist trail.