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La Coruna - Spain

A Coruña (Galician: [a koˈɾuɲa], Spanish: La Coruña [la koˈɾuɲa]) is a city and municipality of Galicia, Spain. It is the second most populated city in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country. The city is the provincial capital of the province of the same name, having also served as political capital of the Kingdom of Galicia from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and as a regional administrative centre between 1833 and 1982, before being replaced by Santiago de Compostela.

A Coruña is a busy port located on a promontory in the Golfo Ártabro, a large gulf on the Atlantic Ocean. It provides a distribution point for agricultural goods from the region.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, A Coruña still had a commercial port connected to foreign countries, but contacts with the Mediterranean were slowly replaced by a more Atlantic-oriented focus. The process of deurbanisation that followed the fall of the Roman Empire also affected A Coruña. Between the 7th and 8th centuries, the city was no more than a little village of labourers and sailors.

The 11th-century Chronica iriense names Faro do Burgo (ancient name of A Coruña) as one of the dioceses that king Miro granted to the episcopate of Iria Flavia in the year 572:

"Mirus Rex Sedi suae Hiriensi contulit Dioceses, scilicet Morratium, Salinensem, (...) Bregantinos, Farum..."

"[King Miro granted to his Irienses headquarters the dioceses of Morrazo, Salnés (...). Bergantiños, Faro...]"

The Muslim invasion of the Iberian peninsula left no archaeological evidence in the northwest, so it cannot be said whether or not the Muslim invaders ever reached the city. As Muslim rule in early 8th century Galicia consisted little more than a short-lived overlordship of the remote and rugged region backed by a few garrisons, and the city was no more than a village amidst Roman ruins, the invaders showed the same lack of interest in the ruined city as they did generally for the region.

As the city began to recover during the Middle Ages the main problem for the inhabitants was the Norman raids, as well as the ever-present threat of raids ("razzies") from Al-Andalus to the south. During the 9th century there were several Viking attacks on the city, called at that time Faro or Faro Bregancio.

The city is also well known for its characteristic glazed window balconies, called galerías. Originally, this type of structure came about as a naval architecture solution for the challenging weather, particularly designed for rainy days. This fashion started in Ferrol in the 18th century when some of the technicians working for the Royal Dockyards had the idea of using the shape of the back of a war ship in a modern building. Soon afterwards, most sea ports in northern Spain, including the Basque region were adding these glazed window balconies to their city-port houses.

The Old Town (Ciudad Vieja in Spanish, Cidade Vella in Galician) is the name given to the oldest part of A Coruña. During the ninth and tenth centuries, the inhabitants of what was then called Faro Island (peninsula where the Tower of Hercules stands) were leaving the area due to constant attacks by the Viking fleet and settled in the area of Betanzos. In 1208 King Alfonso IX refounded the city at the present site of the Old Town and put it under his personal control, free from allegiance to the clergy or feudal lords. In the fourteenth century the scarcely-surviving city walls of the Old Town were built, as well as three harbours: the Parrote and San Miguel. It also preserves the stronghold known as the Old Fortress, now converted into the Garden of San Carlos, in which Sir John Moore is buried. The Old City of A Coruña kept streets and squares that revive the city's history and noble mansions and residences such as Rosalia de Castro's house, located on Prince Street. Notable buildings are the Royal Galician Academy, the institution dedicated to the study of Galician culture and especially the Galician language, the Romanic churches of Santiago and Saint Mary, As Bárbaras Monastery (Romanic and Baroque) and the headquarters of the Operational Logistics Force of the Spanish Army. In July, a Medieval Fair takes place in the streets of the Old City.

There are 38 pre-school centers, 47 primary schools, 29 vocational schools and 33 secondary schools.

Higher education is represented by the University of A Coruña, a public university established in 1989, the UNED branch, and CESUGA, a private university centre in alliance with University College Dublin, which offers Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Architecture Irish degrees. Escuela de Negocios NCG offers MBA and other master's degrees in business.

There are 7 municipal libraries, one library that belongs to the provincial government and one public library, administered by the Xunta. The Archive of the Kingdom of Galicia (Arquivo do Reino de Galicia in Galician) is located in the Old Town.

There is an Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (Spanish language school) center, which offers classes in English, French, Galician, Italian, German, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish as a Foreign Language.

Music studies are well represented by a Music school. A Coruña is also the base for the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia.

The city is home to two main theaters, Teatro Colón and Teatro Rosalía, with regular performances, music concerts and other representations. A multipurpose center, the Coliseum, hosts all kinds of concerts and cultural and sporting events. International artists like David Copperfield, Maná, Mark Knopfler, Shakira, Gloria Estefan, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple or Judas Priest among others have performed there. In summer it also serves as a bullring, and in winter as an ice rink.

A Coruña has several museums, such as the Castle of San Antón Archaeological Museum, its Fine Arts Museum, the Unión Fenosa Museum of Contemporary Art (MACUF), the Military Museum and the network of scientific museums (Casa das Ciencias, which includes a planetarium, DOMUS, made by Arata Isozaki and Aquarium Finisterrae). In 2012, the [National Museum of Science and Technology (MUNCYT) opened a branch in the city.

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