Day 30 Road Trip: Following the Footsteps of Hercules in Northern Galicia

We are usually a slow-go family. However, this time we experimented with (for us) long day trips (read: 1 to 1.5 hour) from our base camping site in Santiago de Compostela to see the Tower of Hercules. Here is our “legendary” visit to the oldest Roman lighthouse that is still in use today in A Coruna in northern Galicia, Spain in pictures.

Why A Coruna? Well, the boys are fascinated by Hercules. this city has the Tower of Hercules, several sculptures to remember the legends of Hercules and a Celtic king and the stories of old, and to top it off. . . some beach time, right down the cliff! Here it is in pictures.

Careful. . . Don’t laugh! Don’t even think about it for this. . . this is Charon who may one day ferry you across the river of the dead in the legends of old. “Caronte” by Ramon Conde.

According to legend, another of the tasks entrusted to Hercules consisted of going to the world of the dead (Hades) and bringing the dog with the three heads, the canine Cerberus, which was located at its entrance, preventing the exit of those who entered there. To reach Hades, Hercules had to cross the Styx lagoon thanks to the help of the ferryman Charon who was in charge of guiding the wandering shadows of the recently deceased to the other side of the Acheron River provided they had an obol to pay for the trip. Hence in ancient Greece the dead were buried with a coin under the tongue. Source: https://grupocoruna.es/monumento-caronte# (original in Spanish).

On the road to the Tower of Hercules. “Guitar” by Pablo Serrano the bronze sculpture to the right of the road ahead is a double tribute to the cubism style of Pablo Picasso who lived part of his childhood in this city and, well, the guitar.

The sculpture park at the Tower of Hercules is like visiting an open-air museum with the rugged coastline, the sea and its unforgiving winds as the backdrop. It has 19 works of art from modern artists (20th century) whose works are mostly about ancient myths and legends associated with the Greek hero, Hercules, the Celtic king, Breogán and the Galicians’ close relations to the sea. We show you some of these sculptures and monuments to heroes of old.

Breogán, the mythical Celtic the Celtic warrior-king in white granite who founded A Coruna and an Irish hero, according to the Book of the Invasions of Ireland. Breogán” by Jose Cid.

You can climb to the top of the tower for 3 euros (1.50 for seniors/reduced rate and FREE on Mondays). You will need to buy the tickets at the entrance to the park a couple of hundred meters from the tower. FREE parking but get there early. At the time of our visit, however, the tower was closed to the public days earlier due to a case of coronavirus/Covid-19.

Rough seas and rugged coastline of A Coruna. The middleground contains 3 more sculptures that we were not able to walk to: the Caracola (snail), Hercules’ golden Cup of Sun and Hercules on the Argonauts’ ship.

This is our third Hercules-related visits. The first one was the Rock of Hercules in Gibraltar, the other in Morocco, in the Caves of Hercules with an opening in the shape of Africa where Hercules allegedly rested during his labors.

Combat-play or rain dance? On “Rosa de los Vientos” (the great wind rose) that represents the seven Celtic peoples and their local traditions.

The Tower of Hercules is apparently the It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the 2nd-tallest lighthouse in Spain, at 55 meters.

Where to stay in santiago de Compostela? save money. go Camping As Cancelas

If you are heading to Santiago de Compostela or making it your homebase on the road, check out Camping As Cancelas. It is the only campsite in Santiago de Compostela and a little less than a 3-kilometer walk to the Cathedral (or a 15-minute bus ride). This campground is kid-approved and family-friendly for its play areas, swimming pool and proximity to the city center. CHECK OUT OUR QUICK REVIEW of Camping As Cancelas and what to see in Santiago de Compostela in pictures through this link.

The Galician’s affinity for the sea. It was once said that when one of the sons of Breogán looked out from the tower of Hercules he saw, through the mists, an island which his people subsequently invaded. The island was Ireland.
“King Carlos III” on the watch, looking out to see, by Pablo Serrano Aguilar.

NOTE: In case you’re wondering. . . No, we have not received any form of compensation or freebies or anything at all for reviewing or mentioning this camping site or any others on our blog.  We just do it for the fun of it.

At the tower that was closed days earlier due to a case of Covid-19/coronavirus. The blue Celtic great wind rose in the background. It was so windy that the boys would lean almost 45 degrees forward and the wind would keep them from falling. So, you’vebeen warned!
“The Doors of Hercules” by Francisco Leiro, depicting the legends and myths surrounding the monument.
“Ara Solis” by Silverio Rivas. “The Sun, at the end of the day, sank into the sea at Fisterra, where he had an altar–the Ara Solis. Many pilgrims went there and never wanted to return to Rome.” [Source A Coruna Tourism: Escultura Torrelingles]
Cutting through the rough path on a hillside, heading to the beach, passing by the “Guardians” of history by Soledad Penalta.
Praia das Lapas (Beach As Lapas, A Coruna, Galica): a sanctuary for sun worshipers, under the tower watch, sheltered by the steep cliffs, with calmed waters and shored up brown-and-green seaweed.
“Menhir Pentacefalico” by Ramonn Miranda. A totem that could be a reference to the people of the sea. Apparently “the totem is an element that connects all the races of the Earth but also is projected toward the sky, toward the unattainable”. [Source A Coruna Tourism: Escultura Torrelingles]
Calm seas, soft sands and sumptuous seaweed for a sunnysideup kind of supper.
Sea. Sand. Sun. Praia (beach) das Lapas, A Coruna, Galicia, Spain.
Preparing a sun dial, maybe.
“Artabros” by Arturo Andrade. One of three figures representing the people that made up society at the time–a woman, a sailor and a warrior.
Water sculpture representing the “Battle between Hercules and Geryon” by Xose Espona. “After three days of fighting, Hercules beheaded Geryon and buried his head on site. Later he made a bonfire in honour of Zeus (Jupiter) and the location of the bonfire gave rise to the lighthouse.” [Source A Coruna Tourism: Escultura Torrelingles]
See you on the road; future pilgrims on their own Camino de Santiago.

Next stop: Going beyond Santiago de Compostela, to the end of the world and to where Mother Mary’s ship landed (or appeared).

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