Port of A Coruna
Review and History

The Port of A Coruna is an autonomous community of Galicia and the capital of the A Coruna Province in northwestern Spain. It lies at the mouth of the Mero River as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Its position near a traditional sea route from Europe to Latin America makes it one of Spain’s most important ports. It is also the second biggest fishing center in Spain. Exports of agricultural produce and imports of coal, manufactured goods, and salt flow through the port on a daily basis.

Complementing its fishing industry, the Port of A Coruna contains canning and salting factories. It is also home to a busy petroleum refining industry and manufacture of textiles, chemicals, aluminum, and machinery. A tobacco factory and shipyards are located in its suburb of Santa Lucia to the south. The Port of A Coruna also has busy beach resorts and a thriving real estate market for second homes. In 2006, over 224 thousand people lived in the Port of A Coruna.

Port History

The Romans colonized the area of the Port of A Coruna in the 2nd Century BC, using it as a seaport. Julius Caesar visited the Port of A Coruna (called Brigantium) in 62 BC. After the fall of Rome, residents fled Norman invasions, leaving what had been a city little more than a fishing village. But even after the Romans left the area, the Port of A Coruna remained active. Trade with Mediterranean ports was replaced by trade with European-Atlantic ports.

Lack of archaeological evidence leaves open the question of whether the Moors invaded this part of Spain. Rather, the Normans were the Port of A Coruna’s biggest problem. Vikings also attacked the Port of A Coruna in the 9th Century.

In the 10th Century, king Vermudo II started building military defenses on the coast. He rebuilt the Tower of Hercules, a new fortress, and a military garrison, financing the works by handing power to the bishop of Santiago. Alfonso IX created the city Crunia in 1208, granting it some trade privileges that led to the developing of prosperous fishing and mercantile sectors. the Port of A Coruna received the title of “City” in 1446 from Xoan II.

In 1520, King Charles I of Spain (who became Charles V of Germany) embarked from the Port of A Coruna to be enthroned Emperor. He granted great power to the government of Galicia and allowed commerce with the Indies through the Port of A Coruna. He built the Castle of San Anton there to protect the Port of A Coruna and harbor. In 1589, the Port of A Coruna successfully rejected at attack by Sir Francis Drake.

The Port of A Coruna was a base for anti-monarchist sentiments during the 19th Century, and the city supported the liberals throughout the century. In the early 19th Century, the National Factory of Cigarettes was established, which eventually spawned the country’s worker movement. Other industries arrived over the century including manufacturers of textiles, glass, matches, and gas. Still, its position as a seaport and trade center remained strong.

As the 20th Century began, the Port of A Coruna was home to about 45 thousand people. After the Spanish Civil War, former supporters of the Republic were forced to leave the Port of A Coruna, and those who remained suffered at the hands of the Franco government. The Nazis killed 13 citizens of the Port of A Coruna in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

After Spain was restored to democracy in 1975, the Port of A Coruna enjoyed new urban renewal projects and a new focus on the tourism and service sectors to expand and diversify its economy.

The Port of A Coruna was born at the dawn of the modern era with the construction of the Hercules Tower, a Roman lighthouse that is still in use today. During the 2nd Century, a village grew up around the tower. By the 13th to 15th Centuries, the Port of A Coruna began to grow outside the old city walls, and the fishing port called la Pescaderia appeared. The San Anton Castle was built in 1528 to protect the port’s entrance.

By 1759, the Port of A Coruna had become the second most important port in the province, with 20 boats operating from the port. In 1764, Carlos III established a maritime connection between the Port of A Coruna and Havana, Cuba, setting the stage for the Port of A Coruna’s golden age. By 1778, the Port of A Coruna was handling record levels of trade and cargo. In 1867, construction of the first modern dock was approved, and the Muelle de Hierro (Iron Dock) was opened in 1870.

The Junta de Obras del Puerto (Port Works Assembly) was established in 1877 to plan, construct, and improve the Port of A Coruna’s facilities. Five new interior docks were approved in 1892 and completed in 1907. In 1923, the Infanta Isabel, an 8.2 tons vessel of 140 meters, arrived at the Port of A Coruna.

In 1952, the port approved a product to create a 13 thousand meter sheltering dock to protect the port. In 1964, the Refinery Port Terminal was opened, and a third jetty was added to the oil dock in 1973.

In 1977, the Muelle del Centenario (Centenary Dock) was approved to allow the port to accommodate larger modern vessels. Opened in 1982, the Centenary Dock can accommodate vessels up to 120 thousand DWT with draught of 16 meters. To promote fishing activities, several new buildings were added to the Port of A Coruna in 1982-83, including a 1200 square meter fish market. A remodeling project for the fishing port was also approved.

In 1986, the Port of A Coruna handled a record 10 million tons of cargo. In 1991, the new Oza Dock was begun to further the port’s enhance fishing industry. In 1991, a new Liner Dock was opened to handle larger vessels. In 1992, a new refrigerator complex was opened at the San Diego Dock. In 1993, the Junta de Obras del Puerto changed its name to Autoridad Portuaria del A Coruna, in keeping with the names of other Spanish and European ports. In 1997, the port approved the construction of a new Outer Port in Punta Langosteira to be completed in 2013.

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