The Tower of Hercules
The Tower of Hercules is the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world and the only one that remains in service. It was most likely built in the second half of the 1st century by an architect from Coimbra named Gaius Saevius Lupus. Its light has always been a reference point for travelers. The current exterior dates from the 18th century and is the work of Eustaquio Giannini. The Tower of Hercules is located on the north coast of the peninsula of A Coruña on a hill 50 metres high.
The Tower of Hercules has always been a source of myths and legends, tales that have been transmitted from generation to generation over the centuries.
*The origins of the city
According to the legend told in the Chronicles of Alfonso X (the Wise) in the 13th century, a giant named Gerion lived in these lands and terrorised the inhabitants. Hercules, the son of Zeus, came to their aid and fought the giant over three long days. After a violent struggle, Hercules defeated and killed Gerion, cut off his head and ordered a tower to be built over it to commemorate his victory. It is said that the first person to inhabit the free lands was a woman named Crunna, after whom the new city was named. The Tower of Hercules and skull of the tyrant Gerion have formed part of A Coruña’s coat of arms since 1448.
*Ith and Breog
In the “Book of Invasions”, written by Irish monks in the 12th century, there is a legend that tells how king Breogan discovered the city of Brigantia and nearby, a great tower. On a clear winter’s night, Ith, one of Breogán’s ten children, caught sight of Ireland from the tower and decided to set sail in this direction and conquer the land. But Ith was murdered and his body was brought back to Brigantia. It was his brother Mil, who at the forefront of a great army, reached Ireland and defeated its inhabitants, the Thuatha-De-Dannan, thereby conquering the country.
*The legend of the mirror
It is said that king Hispan, the wise nephew of Hercules, ordered a great magical mirror to be placed on the top of the Tower. People could then see if ships sailing in were friends or enemies.