Positioned on the left bank of the Corrib River, The Spanish Arch is one of Galway's historical gems, dating back to pre-medieval times.
The Spanish Arch was built in 1584 but is an extension of the 12th century Norman -built town wall, which stretched from Martin's Tower to the riverbank. It housed soldiers who kept watch and manned cannons on the roof. Constructed by Wylliam Martin, the 34th mayor of Galway, it was first known as Ceann an Bhalla ('the head of the wall') but later became known as the Spanish Arch. This misnomer is thought to be a reference to the former merchant trade with Spain and Spanish galleons, which often docked here. In medieval times, European ships carrying cargo of wine and spices sold their goods at the docks. In fact, Christopher Columbus visited in 1477.
In 1755, The Spanish Arch was partially destroyed by a tsunami. In the 1800s, the Eyre family added the Long Walk extension. Until 2006, The Spanish Arch housed the Galway City Museum, which has now moved to a new location 50 yards away behind the original museum building.