IAPS International Network Symposium 2013

Sustainable environments in a changing global context

Identifying opportunities for innovative spaces and practices in contexts of crisis

A Coruña, Spain, June 25-28, 2013

The city: A Coruña

Welcome to Green Spain, welcome to the north coast of the Iberian Peninsula! You are at the end of the Camino de Santiago (Way of Santiago), in Galicia, which is situated just above Portugal and faces both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea. We are specifically referring to the capital of Galicia and the city of A Coruña.


Torre de HérculesThe first impression of this city is big, bright and modern at the same time.


A Coruña is the second-largest city in the autonomous community. It is located on a peninsula, and its isthmus was in ancient times formed only by a small strip of sand.


We are talking about an attractive city at the very tip of Galicia. It is a perfect place for enjoying a gentle stroll around the streets and avenues where it is possible to discover Roman architecture as well as modern and innovative buildings. The atmosphere in the many magnificent town squares is excellent and full of the joy of life on a hot summer's day. Outside the city centre, the beaches, the marina, the fishing port and the commercial port still play a very important role for its people.


The medieval quarter contains most of the historical monuments built before the 19th century together with many buildings dating to the Modernist period. In order to explore the laid-back Galician lifestyle you need to go for a walk down the new and very beautiful promenade, which is the longest in Europe and offers you plenty of opportunity for sightseeing. The fascinatingRiazor Beach waterfront is always buzzing with life and excitement. It is home for fishing boats as well as cruise ships.


The city is also well known for its excellent gastronomy which emphasizes the quality of raw materials over culinary technique. Therefore, gastronomy, waterfront and architecture with the UNESCO's World Heritage Site "Tower of Hercules" together make A Coruña a real pleasure for your senses.


More information about Spain on www.tourspain.org

More information about Galicia on www.turgalicia.es

More information about A Coruña on www.turismocoruna.com



Saint John, the most marvellous night of the year

24th June is a date marked in flame red on A Coruña’s calendar of events. The Bonfires of Saint John (Hogueras de San Juan), declared to be of National Tourist Interest, is an absolute must for residents and visitors to this Atlantic city, surrounded by the sea and tucked away in the autonomous community of Galicia, in north-western Spain. Each year this major celebration draws thousands of visitors from around the world, eager not to miss the opportunity to experience at first hand a unique night of spectacular celebrations.


Although the main events take place on the night from 23rd to 24th June, during the week leading up to the big day, the city starts getting into the spirit of things with a packed programme of concerts, parades, children’s shows, culinary events and activities for little ones…without losing sight of the night of the 23rd, when the ancient rites of the summer solstice are performed. 


Orzán Beach

As soon as day breaks, the entire city waits for the sun to set with baited breath on what is set to be the shortest yet most thrilling night of the year.  It’s time to celebrate the summer solstice, turning the city into a dazzling spectacle of light and fire, set against the backdrop of the glistening Atlantic Ocean.


Right from the early hours, the streets are a hive of activity. The markets stalls displaying the fresh fish brought straight from auction (A Coruña is Spain’s biggest fresh fish port) are the focal point for those in search of the day’s culinary speciality: sardines. Watching the fishmongers and customers as they go about their daily business is a sight not to be missed.      


As the day goes on a human tidal wave starts to roll towards the inlet that separates Orzán and Riazor, the city’s two main beaches, located right in the centre. Although locals and visitors alike tend to gather on these two stretches of sand, all the tiny coves and inlets dotted along A Coruña’s sea promenade, one of the longest and most attractive in Europe, are filled with people eager to enjoy “the most marvellous night of the year” (la noche más maravillosa del año), as this year’s slogan goes.Welcome to the most wonderful night in the world


As soon as darkness falls, the bonfires that line the beaches and are scattered throughout the cities districts start to gleam, the perfect warm up for the festive atmosphere and the official start of the celebrations to commemorate the Festivity of Saint John. On the stroke of midnight, the ‘Meiga Mayor’ - or Queen Witch -, the young lady chosen to represent the city, lights the main bonfire. From then on the entire city is transformed into a thrilling spectacle of light; a fabulous fire that nobody wishes to extinguish. More than a hundred thousand bonfires on the beaches! Firework displays, music, laughter, joy and magic… this is a unique spectacle, and one of those experiences that should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list! The partying and celebrations continue until well into the small hours.


In addition to the gastronomic rituals, there is also another tradition in A Coruña: washing yourself with the magic flowers of Saint John. If you follow this ritual, all your dreams will come true and you will be safe from evil for the rest of the year. This tradition is simple: all you have to do is to leave a bunch of wild flowers and herbs (sage, ferns, hollyhocks, marsh mallows, oregano, verbenas and wild roses) in water overnight, allowing them to gather the early morning dew of Saint John’s Feast Day and wash your face in this aromatic water  in the morning.



 Source: Turismo Coruña


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IAPS Association
IAPS Housing Network IAPS Sustainability Network IAPS Culture and Space Network
Instituto de Estudios e Investigación Psicosocial People-Environment Research Group Universidade da Coruña

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