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Tower of Hercules
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 1st century
Date of Inscription: 2009
Location: Europe, Spain, Galicia, A Coruña
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Description: "The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour in north-western Spain since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium. The Tower, built on a 57 metre high rock, rises a further 55 meters. It is divided into three progressively smaller levels, the first of which corresponds to the Roman structure of the lighthouse. Immediately adjacent to the base of the Tower, is a small rectangular Roman building. The site also features a sculpture park, the Monte dos Bicos rock carvings from the Iron Age and a Muslim cemetery. The Roman foundations of the building were revealed in excavations conducted in the 1990s. Many legends from the Middle Ages to the 19th century surround the Tower of Hercules which is unique as it is the only lighthouse of Greco-Roman antiquity to have retained a measure of structural integrity and functional continuity." --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  The Tower of Hercules (Galician and Spanish: Torre de Hércules) is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in north-western Spain. The name Corunna is said to be derived from the ancient columna, meaning column. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. It is almost 1900 years old, was rehabilitated in 1791, and is the oldest Roman lighthouse still used as a lighthouse. The Tower of Hercules is a National Monument of Spain and since 27 June 2009 is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second tallest lighthouse in Spain, after the Faro de Chipiona. The tower remains a sentinel from days long past. It is known to have existed by the 2nd century, built or perhaps rebuilt under Trajan, perhaps on foundations and just possibly following a design that was Phoenician in origin. It is thought to be modeled after the Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria. At its base is preserved the cornerstone with the inscription MARTI AUG.SACR C.SEVIVS LUPUS ARCHTECTUS AEMINIENSIS LVSITANVS.EX.VO, permitting the original lighthouse tower to be ascribed to the architect Gaius Sevius Lupus, from Aeminium (present-day Coimbra, Portugal) in the former province of Lusitania, as an ex voto dedicated to Mars. The tower has been in constant use since the 2nd century and considered to be the oldest existing lighthouse in the world. Originally it was constructed with an ascending ramp encircling its sides, for oxen to bring cartloads of wood to keep the light fueled at night. The earliest surviving mention of the lighthouse at Brigantium is by Paulus Orosius in Historiae adversum Paganos written ca 415 – 417: Secundus angulus circium intendit, ubi Brigantia Gallaeciae civitas sita altissimum farum et inter pauca memorandi operis ad speculam Britanniae erigit” ("At the second angle of the circuit [circumnavigating Hispania], where the Gallaecian city of Brigantia is sited, a very tall lighthouse is erected among a few commemorative works, for looking towards Britannia.") Through the millennia many mythical stories of its origin have been told. According to a myth that blends Celtic and Greco-Roman elements, the hero Hercules slew the giant tyrant Geryon after three days and three nights of continuous battle. Hercules then—in a Celtic gesture— buried the head of Geryon with his weapons and ordered that a city be built on the site. The lighthouse atop a skull and crossbones representing the buried head of Hercules’ slain enemy appears in the coat-of-arms of the city of Corunna. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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