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Flag of AsturiasAsturias - Inland excursions

Inland excursions - Dining - Popular culture - Map

In addition to the city of Oviedo -absolutely necessary in order to create a complete image of the Asturian region- the traveller has two other excursions which should not be missed, that which introduces us to Cangas de Onis and Covadonga, and the other which takes us into the rugged landscape of the Picos de Europa. First, Oviedo is an old and charming city which inevitably evokes its literary representations contained in Clarin's "La Regenta" and in the novels of Perez de Ayala. The Cathedral, porticoes and streets and squares, with 19th century façades, make up the stage for peaceful living on a small scale in traditional cities. But Oviedo has more solid values than those of its own ambience: the Cathedral to begin with, can be included among the Best of late Hispanic Gothic. Inside, the traveller can begin to appreciate the truly marvellous Asturian Pre-Romanesque art and also the Romanesque moment in all its splendour. The temple, constructed between the 15th and 16th centuries, is a splendid sample of Gothic architecture and it contains in its interior, highly valuable pieces of sacred art among which the main altarpiece stands out, carved in the heart of the 16th century, in a late Gothic style. The crypt of Sant Leocadia and the Holy Chamber, two prior works included in the Cathedral, make up a small Pre-Romanesque complex intended to shelter the treasures proceeding from the times when the Astur kingdom was founded.

Around the Cathedral, a well conserved historic centre spreads out. The Archbishop's Palace, the Monastery of San Pelayo, the Town council and some fine palaces -such as that of Camposagrado- are just some of the monuments to be visited in the city centre. The tour should be completed with a visit to the Campo de San Francisco and to the El Fontan, a popular and colourful market which defines the true spirit of Old Oviedo better than any other corner.

The Church of San Tirso and that of San Julian de los Prados are two of the oldest structures in Oviedo though in order to get to know Asturian Pre-Romanesque art, the traveller has a more important date with the Naranco mountain, on whose slopes is found the Basilica of San Miguel de Lillo and the Palace of Santa Maria del Naranco. Both were built in the 9th century and considered generally as the most beautiful and representative of the Christian art in it epoch.

The most recommendable itinerary for getting to know Cangas de Onis and Covadonga is probably that which starts at Ribadesella. In Cangas -the first headquarters of the Astur kingdom- references to its old settlement and its cultural importance are not lacking: the Cueva del Buxu (cave- just a few kilometres from the center of town) conserves a valuable series of rupestrian paintings of the paleolithic era. Also on the outskirts of town, the Monastery of San Pedro is of Pre-Romanesque origin, though it conserves mostly additions of the 13th century and the Baroque period. In the town itself, the most interesting is without a doubt the medieval bridge, more popularly but erroneously known as the Roman bridge. But the excursion should continue into the valley which shelters the Sanctuary of Covadonga. The Sanctuary is a Neo-Gothic building os the past century but the historic and religious relevance of the place fully justified the great number of visitors it attracts. Here in the year 722, an important battle was fought which led to the founding of the Asturian kingdom, the main focus of resistance against the Moslem advance in the Peninsula. From Covadonga, a very steep highway leads to the Enol and Ercina lakes, an area of imposing beauty.

The third suggested excursion also reveals some highly interesting scenery. From any place on the Eastern coast or from Cangas de Onis, one should head for Arenas de Cabrales and follow along the course of the Cares river until Puente Poncebos. Here, the traveller should park his car and continue on foot along the Garganta del Cares route. However, the less athletic folk can continue by car to Tielve and Sotres, two small towns located at the foot of the Picos de Europa in order to take in some breath-taking scenery.

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