Oviedo

  • This cathedral is a symbol of the Spanish Gothic style. Construction on it began in the 13th century and was only completed in the 16th century.
    © Jose Antonio Moreno / Age Fotostock
    Oviedo cathedral

    This cathedral is a symbol of the Spanish Gothic style. Construction on it began in the 13th century and was only completed in the 16th century.

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Spain

This charming city dates back to medieval times and has its roots in the 8th century, even though it is named after the hill over which a famous Roman road passed on its way north. Oviedo is the political and administrative capital of Asturias, and is the centre and Episcopal capital of the principality. It was founded by a group of monks who decided to build a monastery there, which is now the Archdiocese of the province. The old town has a rich heritage dating back to the time when it was the prosperous capital of the Kingdom of Asturias: churches, iconic buildings, feats of engineering (bridges and aqueducts), monuments, etc. This town was the starting point of the first popular route on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (at the end of the first millennium AD), because routes to the saint's tomb passing further to the south had become too dangerous as a result of robberies and Arab forays in the area. It is for this reason and because of the relics, especially those held in San Salvador church, that the proverb "Quien va a Santiago y no a San Salvador, visita al siervo y se olvida del Señor" was born ("Whoever goes to Saint James and not to the Saviour, visits the servant and misses the Master"). The inhabitants of Oviedo are nicknamed 'Carbayones' after the Carballo, a rare century-old tree that has also given its name to the typical cake of the region, the Carbayón. They pay special homage to the mining business, a very important industry in the principality. It is impossible to list all the sites of interest in the city, but worth a particular mention are the church of Santa María de Naranco, the 'Cámara Santa' (holy room) in the imposing cathedral, and the only existing pre-Romanesque fountain, the Foncalada. Most important, however, is the relationship between the town, its inhabitants, and its historical districts, which offer the same authentic journey into the heart of antiquity as that which inspired artists and writers like Leopoldo Alas, or Clarín, who used the city as a basis for the events in his book, La Regenta. To relax at the end of the day, nothing quite beats stopping off in one or two of the many cider houses.

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