La Coruna — LisbonStartharbour: La Coruna
Boarding after: 30.11.2013 00:00
Departure: 02.12.2013 08:00
Port of destination: Lisbon
Arrival: 06.12.2013 16:00
Days on board: 7
La Coruna port appeared in the II century A.D. in place of a more ancient Phoenician settlement when the modern Galicia had been taken over by the Romans. The Phoenicians, the first passionate discoverers in the world history are accredited with building the Hercules Tower lighthouse which is still the greatest symbol of the city. The Phoenician origin of the lighthouse is still to be proved but it is known for a fact that it had been working during the Trajan emperor’s ruling so the Tower is at least 1900 years old! Nowadays it is the oldest active lighthouse in Europe and it is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage.
During XVI and XVII centuries La Coruna gained the name of a big Spanish trade and military base in the Atlantic, specializing on the Eastern trade. At that time the Spice Board (La palata de especierias) is based here – a trade company that had the monopoly for the modern Indonesian Spice islands trade. Year over year military and commercial expeditions are sent to Ost-India with the main purpose of destabilizing the Portuguese dominion in the Indian Ocean. Most of them will fail and the Spanish will not be able to make a lodgement to the East of the Cape of Good Hope, but these attempts will help the rampant development and enrichment of La Coruna.
Probably the most famous part of the military history of the city is the year 1588 when the Invincible Armada, the 130 ship naval fleet collected by the Spain to invade England took the sea from here. Half of the fleet would be drowned by the English fleet and the severe Northern Atlantic storms. A year later the English commanded by the Armada conqueror Francis Drake came to La Coruna themselves but had to retreat after siege and a bloody assault. According to the legend the city was saved by a woman – Maria Pita, a monument of her is situated in the center of La Coruna. The military past of the city is reminded by a perfectly intact St.Antonius fortress built on an island in the La Coruna strait to guard the city and the harbor in XVIII century. Today it is open for attendance, there is an archeological museum inside.
Our way goes from La Coruna along the Atlantic coast of Europe, On the left we will see the cliffy Portuguese landscape and on the right – the endless ocean up to the American continent. We will travel 350 miles to the South, visiting Portu and depending on the schedule maybe Bayona
Bayona is a small town in the South of Galicia inhabited by a little over 10000 people. The city founded in the II century B.C. is pretty well preserved – the narrow streets of the historical center and the Montreal fortress attract lots of tourists. However there is a lot of such towns in Galicia, what is so special about Bayona for us? On March, 1st, 1493 Bayona harbor was entered by the “Pint” – one of the Columbus’ ships, the first one (of two survived) to come back from the expedition. So the Bayona inhabitants were the first ones in the Old World to find out about the discovery of Columbus. There is a replica of the Pint in the town harbor and we plan on ascending it.
Portu is the city that Shatandart cannot miss. As well as Lisbon Portu is rightfully considered to be the home of the Great Geographical Discoveries. The king Enrique the Seafarer whose name is connected with the first Portuguese sea expeditions was born here. In 1415 the fleet that captured Seuta and thus started the Portuguese expansion to Africa took the sea from here. Fernan Magellan – probably the most famous discoverer in the world lived (and according to some sources was born) here. One of the famous participators of the Magellan’s expedition Esteban Gomez who later explored the Northern American East coast. (For a century and a half after his death the Northern part of the East coast of the modern United States was named after him in the Spanish maps)
Portu is the real discoverer city and we ought to touch its history. And to lift a glass of the wine that made this city famous to its magnificent past.
Lisbon is one of the most ancient cities of the modern Europe. The history of the Portuguese capital started II thousand years B.C, when the Phoenician seafarers founded a trade settlement here. Later the city had been owned by the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, Alans, Arabs and even Norwegians until it finally became Portuguese in 1147.
During its history Lisbon was always an important oceanic port. In XV century it becomes the capital of Portuguese geographical discoveries – this is where the expeditions to all sides of the world started, where all the merchandise from all over the world accumulate, the city is growing rich and simply growing. In 1497 the 4 ships commanded by Vasco da Gama started their journey here, they were the first ones after Bartolomeu Dias to go past the Cape of Good Hope, reach Calicut and come back. This journey set the start for the Portuguese Ost-Indian trade that ensured the country and its capital’s wealth for 200 years. Three years later the expedition of Pedro Alvares Cabral that also headed to India from Lisbon, was the first to reach Brasil. Due to these discoveries by the middle of XVI century Lisbon has pretty much become the capital of the world. This is where the trade routes from Africa, India and South America cross. The city is filling with magnificent palaces and rich temples thick and fast. After a disruptive earthquake in 1755 Lisbon center was practically built anew in classicism and barocco styles so there are only few buildings from the prosperity era that lived to see these days.
One of such buildings is the Belen tower – a fortress included in the UNESCO World Heritage list is guarding the entrance to the Lisbon harbor. The 35-meter high building practically shining in the sun is well seen from far away. For generations of sailors who left Lisbon and sailed into long and dangerous journeys across the ocean the image of this tower has been the last goodbye of their homeland and the symbol of coming back. It is symbolic that now the yacht marina is situated next to the tower.
The other monument of the Lisbon Golden Age is the Jeronimos monastery (just a several minutes walk from the Belen tower) where Vasco da Gama is buried.
The sea history of Lisbon, the amazing people that left its harbor and headed towards unknown shores is a very long story to tell. But the best one can do is just walk along the white paving of the streets of the legendary city and feel its amazing aura. The feelings in Lisbon are very hard to retell. The sunset, bells ringing, fado sounding somewhere around the corner. Close your eyes and just feel it – you are in the most amazing and possibly the most beautiful city in the world…