La Coruña, the largest city in Spain's Galicia region, is among the country's busiest ports. The remote Galicia area is tucked into the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula, surprising visitors with its green and misty countryside that is so much unlike other parts of Spain. The name "Galicia" is Celtic in origin, for it was the Celts who occupied the region around the 6th-century BC and erected fortifications.
La Coruña was already considered an important port under the Romans. They were followed by an invasion of Suevians, Visigoths and, much later in 730, the Moors. It was after Galicia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Asturias that the epic saga of the Pilgrimage to Santiago (St. James) began. From the 15th century, overseas trade developed rapidly; in 1720, La Coruña was granted the privilege of trading with America - a right previously only held by Cadiz and Seville. This was the great era when adventurous men voyaged to the colonies and returned with vast riches.
Today, the city's significant expansion is evident in three distinct quarters: the town centre located along the isthmus; the business and commercial centre with wide avenues and shopping streets; and the "Ensanche" to the south, occupied by warehouses and factories. Many of the buildings in the old section feature the characteristic glazed façades that have earned La Coruña the name "City of Crystal." Plaza Maria Pita, the beautiful main square, is named after the local heroine who saved the town in 1589 when she seized the English standard from the beacon and gave the alarm, warning her fellow townsmen of the English attack.
The ship is scheduled to dock at Muelle de Trasatlanticos. The town centre is within walking distance. Taxis are available at a nearby taxi stand.
Main shopping areas are along Calle Real and Calle San Andres. In addition to regional souvenirs, the department store El Corte Inglés offers a wide range of merchandise including international brands of cosmetics as well as perfumes and leather goods made in Spain. General store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; the exception is the department store, which stays open during lunchtime. The local currency is the euro.
The Galician coast is known for fresh seafood, in particular shellfish and crustaceans (mariscos), scallops (vieiras), mussels (mejillones), limpets (percebes) and large prawns (gambas). The most popular local dish is the caldo gallego, an excellent hot-pot with meat and vegetables. A variety of restaurants around the town centre and in the marina area come highly recommended.
Most of the city's attractions can easily be explored on foot.
La Ciudad Vieja (The Old City)
The City is the original town with narrow, cobbled streets and quaint squares at the northern end of the harbour.
Avenida de la Marina
This avenue, running parallel to the waterfront, is lined by tall houses that feature the typical glassed-in balconies.
Mendez Nuñez Gardens
The gardens lie between the harbour and "Los Cantones" in a bustling quarter of the city. They are known for their great variety of flowering trees.
Maria Pita House
A plaque at the house on Calle Herrias No. 24 recounts the bravery of this local heroine.
Fortress San Anton
Once used as a prison, the building now houses the Military and Archaeological Museum. It is located a 10-minute walk from the ship.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.