The story of the Tower of Hercules in the port of La Coruña. It is said that from the top, the human eye can see a thousand kilometres…

In case you were wondering, the oldest lighthouse in the world is the Tower of Hercules, a building that dates back to Roman times situated on the La Coruña peninsula in the Galicia region of Spain.

In 2009 this lighthouse was named a UNESCO world heritage site and it is still in use today. It is 48 metres high and has a visual range of 23 nautical miles (with a light signal roughly every 20 seconds).

The Tower of Hercules was built in the second century. It is unclear who ordered it to be built (probably the emperor Trajan although some claim it was commissioned by Hadrian) and work was carried out under the supervision of a much appreciated Portuguese architect of the time, Caius Sevius Lupus.

Roberto Da Silva, Da Silva Tattoo, Bielefeld, Germany
Roberto Da Silva, Da Silva Tattoo, Bielefeld, Germany

The lighthouse was consecrated to Mars, god of war, since its main function was to protect La Coruña from invasion by sea. In those days the light was natural, produced by a fire burning in enormous braziers at the top.

In another war-torn period, the Middle Ages, the Tower was not used as a lighthouse but as as a fortification for the Spanish port. Today, it is just a busy tourist destination all year round.

It was also famous with Celts of Irish origin as it is mentioned in ‘Lebor Gabála Érenn’ (The Book of Invasions). There, it is claimed that Breogán, father of Ithil, ordered the first Celtic expedition from Spain to Ireland.

“We will go there,” said his son Ithil once he had reached the top of the lighthouse. His eyes could see as far as Ireland. A land, by the way, situated 900 kilometres north of the city of La Coruña!