The world’s oldest lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules, was built in the 2nd century and is still in use today.
The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 kilometers (1.5 mi) from the centre of Corunna, Galicia, in north-western Spain. Until the 20th century, the tower itself was known as the “Farum Brigantium”. The Latin word farum is derived from the Greek pharos for the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. The structure, almost 1900 years old and rehabilitated in 1791, is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today. There is a sculpture garden featuring works by Pablo Serrano and Francisco Leiro.
The Tower of Hercules is a National Monument of Spain, and since June 27, 2009, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second tallest lighthouse in Spain, after the Faro de Chipiona
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.
Another legend embodied in the 11th-century Irish compilation Lebor Gabala Erren— the “Book of Invasions”— King Breogán, the founding father of the Galician Celtic nation, constructed here a massive tower of such a grand height that his sons could see a distant green shore from its top. The glimpse of that distant green land lured them to sail north to Ireland. According to the legend, these Breogán’s descendants who stayed in Ireland and their followers are the Celtic ancestors of the current Irish people. A colossal statue of Breogán has been erected near the Tower.