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The Tower of Hercules in Corunna, Spain is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today

Marija Georgievska

The Tower of Hercules, originally known as the “Farum Brigantium” or “Brigantia Lighthouse,” is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about two kilometers from the center of Corunna, Galicia, in northwestern Spain. It is a symbol of the power of the ancient Roman Empire.

The Tower of Hercules. Photo Credit

The Tower of Hercules. Photo Credit

After almost 2,000 years, it is the oldest lighthouse still in operation in the world. The tower, built on a 57-metre high rock, rises a further 55 meters, of which 34 meters correspond to the Roman masonry and 21 meters to the restoration in the 18th century. The three-story tower was given a neoclassical restoration undertaken by naval engineer Eustagujo Giannini during the reign of Charles III of Spain.

The Tower was given a neoclassical restoration. Photo Credit

The Tower was given a neoclassical restoration. Photo Credit

The structure looks as though it could have been built just decades ago and looks remarkably modern. It is thought to be modeled after the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The present structure is considered a Roman work dating during the reign of Trajan. Photo Credit

The present structure is considered a Roman work dating during the reign of Trajan. Photo Credit

There is a Latin inscription at the base of the lighthouse that shows the name of the architect, Caius Sevius Lupus, who dedicated its construction to the roman god Mars.

The history of the Tower of Hercules involves a combination of myth and fact. Photo Credit

The history of the Tower of Hercules involves a combination of myth and fact. Photo Credit

According to legend, it also marks the resting place of one of Hercules’ greatest conquests. The hero Hercules slew the giant tyrant Geryon after three nights of continuous battle. After he killed Geryon, he buried his head with his weapons and ordered that a city be built on the site. The lighthouse and the buried head of Hercules’ slain enemy appear in the coat-of-arms of the city of Corunna.

A colossal statue of Breogan has been erected near the Tower. Photo Credit

A colossal statue of Breogan has been erected near the Tower. Photo Credit

 

Today, the Tower of Hercules is still used as a lighthouse. Photo Credit

Today, the Tower of Hercules is still used as a lighthouse. Photo Credit

The lighthouse became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. Around the lighthouse, there is a sculpture garden featuring works by Pablo Serrano and Francisco Leiro. It is a definitely one of Spain’s must-see historical sites.