The wild west coastline of the Spanish autonomous community of Galicia offers a stark contrast from the land of frost and fire that hosted last year's ASC. A jump in water temperature and a rung down Earth's latitudinal ladder (and to the southern boundary of ICES area), the landscape around A Coruña, both the city and the province, is marked more by grassy green hills than glaciers and geysers. Both countries do share some DNA though: a rich heritage of Atlantic Ocean fishing.
Situated on one of the most westerly points of Europe and surrounded by small fishing towns and villages, A Coruña (in Galician; 'La Coruña' in Spanish) is an epicenter of fishing trade and activity and has been for generations. The Celts, Phoenicians and Romans have all occupied its port at one time or another. Even the Vikings raided it in the 9th century.
During the 2nd century a village developed around the legendary Hercules Tower – considered the oldest lighthouse in the world – with a fishing port called La Pescaderia appearing from 1300-1500. The Castle of San Anton (Castillo de San Antón) was built in 1528 to watch over the port's entrance.
Emerald green headland with view to Hercules Tower; photo: Gabriel González
Spain's golden age of exploration and trade during the Middle Ages put A Coruña on the map as an important launching pad for sailing expeditions to far-flung territories in the West Indies as well as, in 1588, the 130 ships of the Spanish Armada to England. Francis Drake helped defeat that Armada before launching a reprisal strike against A Coruña a year later which was repelled by the natives and inspired by local heroine Maria Pita (who would, later, get the city's central square named after her for her efforts).
In 1764, a maritime route was opened between the city's port and the Cuban capital Havana. Over the next two hundred years, several docks were opened and facilities improved, with various additions and upgrades continually being made to the port area.
Nowadays, A Coruña is the second biggest fishing centre in Spain and sees one of the highest volumes of fish landings in Europe. The daily waterfront auction (with a deep sea fish auction twice weekly) where fishermen sell their goods is a beehive of early morning bartering activity, and the Plaza de Lugo fish market is a who's who of locally-caught species – everything from monkfish, hake, octopus, and anglerfish to langoustines, crabs and the extraterrestrial-looking goose barnacle.
wonderful assortment of fresh seafood is reflected in both the menus of A
Coruña's eateries and the preferences of the Galician people.
Left: goose barnacles; photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis / right: boats in A Coruña harbour