Asturias is a one province Autonomous Community.
excursions - Dining - Popular
culture - Map
For centuries the stronghold of the Christian kingdom that
most actively battled the Moors to the South, Asturias, a mountainous
Cantabrian region, is located between Cantabria to the East
and Galicia to the West. It proudly preserves its ancient claim
to the title designating it a principality.
Oviedo is the capital of the region. A beautiful
city, its cathedral is a fine example of Late Gothic Style
while tow small churches, Santa Maria del Naranco and San Miguel
de Lillo, are the foremost examples of the magnificent Asturias
pre-Romanesque art developed in the 9th century. You can find
more information on Orviedo here.
Gijon owes its current importance to its great port, one
of the largest on the Cantabrian coast. The city, which has
an enormous beach, has sustained considerable growth but has
also preserved its old fishermen's quarters.
The Asturian coast appears at the Tina Mayor estuary and a
little farther on, in Pimiango, is the Cueva del Pindal (Cave),
a prehistoric site set in a most magnificent surrounding.
It faithfully marks the beginning of the lovely views which
the traveller from here all the way down to the other estuary
of Ribadeo, which sets the limit for the Asturian coast.
The national highway continues to Llanes, past beaches and
on one side and the imposing silhouette of the Picos de Europa
on the inland flank. Before reaching our destination, we
should admire the idol of Peña Tu, a monolith painted
in the Bronze Age with shapes which have not yet been deciphered.
Llanes offers the traveller the opportunity of getting to
the old ports and majestic villages of Asturias, which have
been re-animated in recent years by a loyal summer tourism.
The beauty of the beaches near Llanes fully justifies this
circumstance. The old quarter and the port are reason enough
to make a visit. The Gothic Church of Santa Maria (whose
structure covers styles dated between the 13th and 17th centuries),
tower from the old ramparts which are only partly conserved
and the Renaissance palaces and mansions create the silhouette
of one of those cities in which art and the natural setting
blend together in a most satisfactory manner.
We pass by Celorio and Barro, with lovely beaches extended
between the rocks, and arrive at San Antolin de Bedon, a lovely
Romanesque church which rises beside the coast. From here we
should take highway N-634 to Ribadesella, an old port which
has taken advantage of the protection offered by the winding
mouth of the Sella. Here as well the natural attractions of
its beaches combine with a beautiful urban center and with
the fact that it has one of the most important prehistoric
sites in the country. The Cave of Tito Bustillo has conserved
to our day a very interesting collection of animal representations.
Farther on by Colunga, the traveller can follow a short turn-off
to the beautiful fishing port of Lastres. It is worth the effort
to climb up to the Sanctuary of San Roque and obtain one of
the most breath-taking views of the Asturian coastline.
One needs time in order to get to know the Villaviciosa estuary.
The city, open to the sea via the deep estuary, is however
an old inland burg surrounded by apple orchards and it has
been engaged since time began in the making of cider. Preserved
from its glorious Middle Ages are among other testimonies,
two churches of great interest: that of Santa Maria in the
center of town, and that of San Juan de Amandi located 2km
outside of Villaviciosa. The latter church, dated in the 13th
century and restored in the 18th, has a fine sculptural collection
which deserves an unrushed visit.
Another lovely excursion can be followed as well from Villaviciosa
and though it will take the traveller away from the coast,
it will also give him a first look at the very interesting
Asturian Pre-Romanesque art. Heading in the direction of Oviedo,
one comes to Church of Salvador de Valdedios, 10km along the
way. It is a small and beautiful 11th century temple known
in these lands as El Conventin (Little Convent). This church
despite its episodic Mozarabic influence (scarcely visible
in a couple of details) is perfectly representative of that
moment of our architecture which shows remains of mural paintings.
The Cruz de la Victoria (Cross of Victory) stands out on the
small twin windows of the main façade and become a symbolic
image of the Astur kingdom and consequently of the Asturian
Back in Villaviciosa, we should skirt the estuary and head
once again towards the ocean. To the East of the mouth is the
broad and beautiful Rodiles beach; to the West, the port of
Tazones, a lovely fishermen's enclave. From here to Gijon -the
next stop- the traveller should take the national highway which
in this section passes through a landscape of valleys covered
with forever green meadows and apple orchards. Right before
we reach our destination, there is a turn-off to the Playa
de la Ñora. Gijon is one of the most important cities
in Asturias, offering some very unusual characteristics. It
is an active industrial center, a highly traditional port,
a monumental center and a summer resort area. Our advice, upon
arriving, is to head for the historic quarter and once we are
there, initiate a pleasant walking tour.. The Santa Catalina
hill, with the typical Cimadevilla quarter, is still filled
with a sea-faring atmosphere and they separate the old port
from the broad and beautiful beach of San Lorenzo, which makes
up one of Fijon's favourite symbols.
At the foot of Cimadevilla is a very beautiful square open
to the old Gijon port where the Collegiate Church of San Juan
and the Revillagigedo Palace stand; both are 18th century structures,
though the Baroque façade of the Palace is framed by
two 15th century structures, though the Baroque façade
of the Palace is framed by two 15th century keeps. Very close
by, without leaving the small heart of the city, the traveller
will discover the birthplace of Jovellanos, today set up as
a museum, a fine example of residential Asturian architecture.
And once we have reached this point, we should initiate the
route of El Muro, a long walk which borders the beach of San
From Gijon to Cabo de Peñas, the coast is a succession
of beaches, ports and rocky sections, well equipped for summer
tourism. Passing through Perlora, with a good beach, one soon
comes to Dandas, an old fishing port between cliffs which conserve
a beautiful 18th century church. Luanco surrounded by very
beautiful landscape, also has the peaceful charm of the old
sea-faring cities, in which everything, including a small and
well-protected beach takes on very human proportions. From
here, it is almost compulsory to go to the Cabo de Peñas
lighthouse, set on an impressive hill of inclined strata which
make up one of the most characteristic views of the Cantabrian
Without leaving the regional roads which skirt the coast,
we soon come to Aviles, an important industrial center with
a fine monumental collection and from there we can continue
to Salinas, an almost endless beach and traditional summer
resort area. A little farther on, in the direction of Cudillero
is the Pravia estuary and near its source, the El Aguilar beach,
also quite long and backed by very lovely scenery. Cudillero
is the next stop. Once again, it is an old and active fishing
port made up of a conglomerate of glass-enclosed galleries
and different level roofs. In its city center, one should get
to know the Church of San Pedro, a building conceived in a
simple late Gothic style. Near Cudillero is the 19th century
El Pito (or Los Selgas) Palace which has a magnificent collection
of 16th century Flemish tapestries.
The beach of Concha de Artedo offers a panorama which is definitely
worth the stop-over. From here, the national highway unfolds
amidst very beautiful landscape in which valleys and meadows
alternate with the seascapes. Cavedo, half way between Cudillero
and Luarca, is a small town which has a good beach. Luarca,
finally, requires that the traveller make an unrushed visit
in order to capture all of the charm of a small town which
sits on a cove and in which, fortunately, the presence of a
loyal summer tourism has not become too evident. The walk towards
the cemetery -located on a small peninsula- is certainly worth
it. Here as well, we must make mention of a beautiful beach
among the city's attractions.
Navia, at the mouth of a deep estuary, is located halfway
between the inland towns and the coastal ones. Near the peaceful
city center is Castro de Coaña, one of the Best conserved
prehistoric sites of the Cantabrian area. Tapia de Casariego
is the last part of the Asturian coast open to the ocean. Very
close by Tapia is the estuary formed by the Eo River. Castropol
set on a small hill which descends to the peaceful waters,
is perhaps one of the most beautiful enclaves of the coast
and, of course, it provides a magnificent way of bidding farewell
to the Asturian landscape, while sighting the Galician lands
on the other side of the ria.
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