This little corner of Europe, tucked above Portugal in the northeastern corner of Spain, was long described as “the end of the world.” Recently, however, it is starting to feel closer to being at the centre of the stage. One of the changes is noticeable even after a short stroll: the streets are increasingly filled with people of different nationalities, speaking different languages, and wearing different clothes. Ask one of them why they are in La Coruña, and the likely answer is “to work.” Ask where they work and what you will get in reply is likely a gesture towards the west, and the neighbouring town of Arteixo, where Inditex is headquartered. (Even if you don’t recognise Inditex as the name of an enormous multinational clothing company, you likely know some of its brands, including Zara, Bershka, and Massimo Dutti.)
The Galician city’s increasingly cosmopolitan atmosphere is apparent not only when wandering its streets but also exploring the cultural offerings of its museums and art galleries.
One of the most important cultural initiatives has an Inditex connection via Marta Ortega Pérez, who is both the new president of Inditex and the president of a foundation that bears her initials. The MOP Foundation is structured around three pillars: La Coruña, photography, and fashion. Last year it hosted the successful exhibition Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories seen by 110,000 visitors.
“After that success, it was clear that we had to organise another exhibition,” Leticia Castromil, exhibition coordinator for the MOP Foundation says. “We couldn’t stop there.” At the end of November 2022, Steven Meisel 1993 A Year in Photographs opened its doors and the free exhibition will be up until 1 May 2023. The show is at a building on the city’s harbour, the Muelle de la Batería. Naomi Campbell, Irina Shayk, and Christy Turlington were among the fashion stars who attended the opening.
“The exhibition space is a former industrial building next to the port. It’s located in an area near the city centre but which had been closed to the public. Thanks to this initiative, part of another dock is now accessible again and people can walk around it,” Castromil adds.
In addition to the Meisel exhibition, 2023 includes a milestone for a one-time resident of La Coruña. Pablo Picasso, who lived in the city between ages 9 and 13, died 50 years ago. “Continue doing what you are doing and never doubt that you will achieve glory and a brilliant future,” a review published in La Voz de Galicia said after seeing an exhibition by a precocious Picasso when he was only 13 years old.
During the year-long Picasso Celebración 1973-2023 a series of events and activities will take place around the world. In the region where the young genius spent four formative years, the centre of the celebration is the Casa Museo Picasso. The Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña will host Picasso, Blanco en el Recuerdo Azul (“Picasso, White in the Blue Memory”) from 24 March to 23 June 2023. The Fundación Luis Seoane will organise a show on the women who shaped Picasso’s life and the Escuela de Arte y Superior de Diseño Pablo Picasso is also planning events to mark the anniversary.
Alongside the rich cultural scene, there is an impressive gastronomic one as well, led by Árbore da Veira, Omakase, Bido, la Taberna de Miga, NaDo, Terreo, and Salitre. You’ll find specialty coffee shops, wine bars, cocktail lounges, pottery workshops, bookstores, and design stores as you make your way about the city. All this, with the Atlantic in the background serving as a reminder that while this was once the end of the world, today it is a place where new adventures begin. María Casba