February 29th, 2012
Looking to book a Spanish Spring holiday for 2012?
Rugged walking, deserted beaches, National Reserves, and the best of wildlife. Ski slopes and walking trails compete with traditional village life. Add the superb architecture from 9th Century Christian Europe – as declared by UNESCO - tempted? Of course you are!…come and discover Oviedo….. the capital of Asturias!
A place of two faces
Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is really a town of two halves, the old and the new. Founded by Fruela I back in 757 means that the old part really is just that! Fruela had a fortress in mind and later on Oviedo became the capital of Christian Spain. It´s often said that Asturias is seemingly separate from the rest of Spain – and it does seem that way.
The Spanish Civil War led to the creation of the modern face which you are likely to see today, but I say ignore that and go and discover the old part instead…
This former old mining town is these days more white collar than blue – there are some fancy eateries and plenty of nice places to while away an evening – but let´s do some walking first!
Park the car up – the old centre is closed off to traffic – which makes walking all the nicer – so park it and head off on foot instead.
Start your wandering at the large leafy park – Campo de San Francisco – and take the Calle Francisco just off it – this street leads you straight into the old part.
UNESCO were onto a good thing when they declared Oviedo the centre of the best architecture produced in 9th century Christian Europe – there´s lots to see. Don´t miss:
- The 13th Century Cathedral – see the note below on the Relics inside
- 9th Century church of San Miguel de Lillo
- 9th Century fountain La Foncalada
- 16th century University
- Monastery of San Vincente – 8th century.
- San Julián de los Prados - pre Romanesque
- Santa María de Naranco – also pre Romanesque
The tower at the Cathedral is the local landmark and a good spot to meet up if you want to do different things or just get lost exploring! Inside the Cathedral – must - sees on your agenda – besides all of the fabulous architecture – will be the relics, including a phial of milk from the Virgin Mary, and one of the famous 30 pieces of silver...
On Film and Art
The old centre is a popular set for film makers, Woody Allen loved the place and used it for the 2008 romance Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Read more about Spain on film here in Vernon´s great post.
Oviedo has also been the inspiration for Spanish writers over the years, including Leopoldo Alas, Ramón Pérez and Dolores Medio. There are auditoriums and theatres, and it has also been a focal point in the Spanish rock music scene of late.
Before you head off, choose from the plethora of maps available at the tourist office back in town. There are plenty of marked walks and trails through the neighbouring woods, hills and countryside.
First of all you might like to explore the small mining towns nearby. Traditional Spanish villages, these days the main industry is almost certainly agricultural, all those beans to be grown for the famed Asturian Fabada! You´ll be sure to try it out if you stop at a little bar or restaurant for lunch to fuel you as you continue on. Also remember to taste Asurian cider - Sidre – but you might find that you want a bit of a lie down if you like it too much – strong stuff!
So maybe now is the ideal time to take a look through this lovely selection of Asturias Holiday Homes direct from the owners – rustle up your own beans!
Beaches or Mountains?
Your choice. It´s your holiday, whether you want to blow the cobwebs away on a deserted white beach or stand on a rugged clifftop with the crash of the waves beneath you as a soundtrack – it´s all yours to enjoy – with the added guarantee that this area is picturesque and breathtaking all year round, whatever the season.
Southeast of Oviedo takes you to the Reres National Reserve, again pick up your maps and directions back in town. This stunning mountain pass is a photographer´s at any time of the year – but if you want some Ski action then visit in the Winter and hit the slopes.
They can be found at:
- Puerto San Isidro – 12 slopes of different levels, depending on your experience.
- Valgrande Pajares – 15 different slopes to choose from.
- Peña Ubeña – Lietariegos Pass and Maraño.
Teddy bear picnic
A different direction, head Southwest instead to the Parque Natural de Somiedo and the lofty 7,000 ft high peaks of the Cantabrian mountains. Down below is the back garden for Wolves and Bears as well as fantastic flora and fauna – maybe take one of the guided trips! Bears?! Yes, the Cantabrian Brown Bear does particularly well in this habitat – take a few extra marmalade sandwiches!
Nearly 40,000 hectares and lakes that have been given the designation of Natural Monument, UNESCO is there again giving the whole area the tag of Biosphere Reserve. Happy walking!
Heading in a westerly direction from our starting point of Oviedo, take time out to visit Tineo which is on a small tributary of the River Narcea. This is home to Trout and Salmon fishing, so you can spend time admiring the Sacred Art Museum and the castle while he catches dinner…Tineo is also famed for it´s excellent home made Chorizo and Morcilla, so if it´s a case of the One That Got Away then there´s always some back up…
If you´re here a bit later in the year, then August is party time, when they celebrate the Fiesta of San Roque from the 12th to the 18th of the month with great gusto. Alongside the Masses and processions, wine, food and music flow together with good humour and festivities. Why not join in the fun?!
Still in the same direction of West, visit Llamas de Mouro which has been famous for some time for it´s pottery. For how long? Well, actually since Celtic times, where it was fired in circular ovens situated down inside the ground. Still made today in the same traditional way it´s known as Ceramica Negra – or black pottery owing to the shiny black appearance. Made today by just one family, the sons of the original potter Rodriguez, each piece is totally unique and would make a great gift to take home.
Muniellos Natural Reserve
This is a very special place – a wooded reserve comprised primarily of Oak, originally a Royal hunting area – now banned – and visitors are strictly controlled on a numbers basis – no more than a couple of dozen per day – to ensure that the area is perfectly preserved. The area is the main habitat of the Cantabrian Brown Bear and also more intriguingly of the Cantabrian capercaille known as the Urogallo. You will be taken on a 5 hour hike through the 5,000 acres of forest and it´s ancient Oak, wooded meadowlands and stunning lakes.
- If you´re lucky enough to be included on one of these trips, the first step is to write in advance to the Agencia de Media Ambiente del Principado de Asturias, Plaza General Ordonez, Oviedo 33007.