Scaling the Tower of Hercules

Scaling the Tower of Hercules

Climbing this historical site was one of the top ten moments of my life...so far.

From the outside, the Tower of Hercules, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Monument of Spain, may not look like such a climb, but the people inside will tell you differently. The stone steps of the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today are wide and numerous, and it takes real work to climb them. If you are already a seasoned mountain climber or generally fit person, it may not be so bad—but to the average Joe (including the party I was with), it’s a bit of a challenge.

Like many challenges, however, the challenge is well worth it. Yes, your legs are burning by the time you get there. Yes, you might have to make a stop or two on the way. But when you stand up at the top of that lighthouse and feel that ocean on your face—crazy strong and wild, blowing your hair so hard it feels like it may just leave your head—and you see that incredible Atlantic Ocean view, you know that the whole climb was worth these few minutes of billowing bliss.

When you step back inside the Tower, you’ll notice that your hair—if you have more than a buzz cut, that is—is completely in knots. Mine was secured back in clips and my friends’ were in ponytails, yet we all had complete rats’ nests, as my mom used to call them, on our heads. It took us all quite a while to untangle our hair.

I fell in love with the ocean at the Tower, where a good friend of mine and I walked down to the beach, despite the cold, and saw water as far as you could see. It was sort of funny, since his feet got wet and he decided to curse at the ocean—being British, he’d seen it already and I suppose it wasn’t as awesome to him—but I will always remember the feel of the ocean on my face, the burst of the wind after that long, long climb, and the smell of that salty sea air. I really hope to take my daughter there one day.

The entire area of Coruna and Galicia in general is gorgeous and not to be missed. Santiago de Compostela, for example, is in the area, and the beautiful pilgrimage site is also home to the world’s largest incense burner. You’ll find the typical tourist attractions, like live painted statues and beautiful music played at night in the streets, but you’ll also find some really delicious local fare, ruins to see, and so much more. If you are heading to Spain, Galicia should definitely be on your list of places to visit—with the Tower of Hercules at both your metaphorical and literal top!