I have officially been in Coruña for one month! I love it here. It has a population of about 250,000 people, and while it is always buzzing with activity, it definitely feels like a small city. It is very easily walkable, and I frequently run into people I know.
Because I’ve been here for a month, I figured I’d give a mini virtual tour:
People in Coruña speak both Spanish and Gallego, the official language of Galicia. Children learn Gallego in school and there is a public Gallego television channel, but, as my host mom explained to me, Spanish is the predominant language in Coruña. Now, Gallego is the more prevalent language only in rural towns outside of Coruña and among older generations. Apparently, the Gallego vs. Spanish debate is very contentious (both linguistically and historically) and has serious political implications– something I definitely want to learn more about!
Coruña is on the Northwest coast of Spain, and the city’s beaches are some of its main attractions. It was September when I arrived in Coruña, so my friends and I made sure to go to the beach a few times while the weather was still nice. The two main beaches, Riazor and Orzán, are a 10 minute walk from my apartment. Orzan’s currents are notoriously rough and unpredictable, so many people prefer to go to Riazor. Both beaches are beautiful, though, and a great way to relax and enjoy time with family/friends.
Coruña also has a very vibrant Old Town, with lots of shopping plazas, bars, and restaurants. My personal favorite places to eat are Mesón de Pulpo, which has the best octopus in the city, and O’Sampaio, where we Holy Cross students frequent on the weekends to enjoy octopus, huevos rotos con jamón, tortilla, and, of course, sangria.
The Plaza de Maria Pita is the most famous plaza in the city, containing many tapas bars and restaurant terraces, the palatial Town Hall/El Ayuntamiento (which is especially beautiful at night), and a statue of Maria Pita, la heroína coruñesa who defended the city against English attack in 1589.
Coruña is perhaps most well known for the Tower of Hercules, which is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world, dating back to the 2nd century AD. Mythology holds that the sons of King Breogan, the founding father of the Galician Celtic nation, could see the Southern coast of Ireland from the top of the tower. They were so mystified by its beautiful shores that they sailed to Ireland and never returned to Galicia. Legend says that Breogan’s descendants are the ancestors of the current Irish people.
Coruña is home to the Universidade da Coruña, a large, public university with almost 24,000 students!! The campus is hilly and very spread out–we need to take a bus to get between different campus buildings! Students at UDC choose carreras (careers) upon their acceptance and take classes that follow a specific track determined by the university. Because they take classes in only one subject, students spend most of their time in the specific building that corresponds to their carrera.
Finally, Coruña has very vibrant and fun nightlife! Coruña has a bunch of clubs located along the port and they have beautiful terraces that overlook the water–the perfect place to talk to people and take a break from dancing! In typical Spanish fashion, people don’t leave for the clubs until around 1:00 or 1:30 am and they often stay out until long after the sun rises. One day, my friends and I were waiting at the bus stop to head to an early class when we saw a huge crowd of people walking home from the clubs, looking exhausted and with high heels in their hands!
I hope you enjoyed this (very brief) tour! Coruña is a beautiful city, and I am so glad I get to spend a year here!!