A Coruna's architecture – galerias and the glass city
Galicia has a wealth of buildings featuring most of the architectural styles found in Europe ranging from neo-classical and baroque to Romanesque and renaissance. But the region also has a particular approach to constructing balconies known locally as "galerias" and A must be the district's capitol when it comes to these design features.
A galeria is nothing more than a balcony, but one that is enclosed in a glass frame protecting it from Galicia's cool winters and making it usable all year round. Galerias can appear at first floor level, or on the six floor of a six storey building and there are many variances on the basic design. Those in shot to the right are on Marina Avenue which overlooks the bay of Coruna.
The reason galerias are so prevalent and significant in A Coruna is two fold. Firstly, unlike Galicia's other provincial capitols, a large part of the city is "modernist" and was built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – the galeria design was especially popular during this period. Secondly, the original fisherman's houses (that lined the harbour and port) were built with galerias and subsequent structures that replaced, or were added to them continued this style.
If you want to see galerias at their best, then A Coruna city is definitely the place to visit and you have two great panoramic processions of galeria style buildings to look at.
The first is the harbour front area of "Marina Avenue", often called the "glass city" or "crystal city". This is the spot where the original fishermen's houses were, but today most of this area contains multi-storey offices and apartment blocks all of which are "loaded" with galerias. On a clear day, when the sun faces the harbour front during the evening, the reflection can be blinding and provides an impressive spectacle for all of the city's visitors. This area around the Marina is called the "Galerias Corunesas"
Away from the Marina
Although A Coruna's harbour is famous for its "glass face", a short walk into the city serves up streets with just as many examples, and even more varied styles, of galeria on display. The main areas in which you can see them are the streets of Juana de Vega, Picavia, Feijoo, Plaza de Lugo and Plaza de Pontevedra.
One particular street (the name of which I neglected to write down) has standard shop and business premises at ground level, but every possible style of galeria above. The whole area has a feel and atmosphere that is totally different to anywhere else we have visited in Galicia and sets A Coruna apart from other cities like Lugo and Pontevedra.
At a first glance many of the galerias appear very similar to one another, but on a closer inspection many subtle differences become evident. These range from the size, style and colour of the glass frames, to the way that the galerias interact with their enclosing building's facade and more standard open balconies. Many buildings alternate two or three levels of galeria with an open balcony, or reserve the galerias for only the top most floors of the building. Some galerias also have intricate detailing at sill level, whilst others are supported on ornate sculptured masonry – there is no fixed style.
Elsewhere in the town, galerias are also evident, but their monopoly is lost and they blend in with all the other buildings and architectural styles that la Corunna has to offer. Averting the eyes upwards remains the best way to appreciate them and if you want to see more picturers of these features click this link. To page.