Nestling at the heart of the Picos d'Europa are the lakes of Enol and Ercina, although they are rightly better known as the Lakes of Covadonga on account of their location close to the village of the same name (6 mi). The village is famous for its religious architecture, the Holy Cave ('Santa Cueva'), and the famous battle that was fought there. The lakes, which are sometimes referred to as the 'Lagos de Enol', are surrounded by mountains and peaks, and enjoy views over the slopes of Peña Santa, which rises to a height of 2,596m. They can be reached by car, although the government recently imposed traffic restrictions only allowing bus access during high season. Although the lakesides can get very busy, they are also the starting point of various paths enabling you to get away from the crowds and fields of cows and find a bit more peace and quiet. There is also a nature and landscape interpretation centre, a picnic area, and a mining trail that tries to explain this source of production so typical to the Asturias region. On your way down from here, you will find the Covadonga complex, which is made up of the Our Lady of Covadonga shrine, or 'La Santina', which was built to commemorate the battle of Covadonga, and the Monastery of San Pedro. The most important buildings here are: the Capilla Sagrario chapel inside the Holy Cave ('Santa Cueva'), where the Virgin is said to have appeared; the imposing Basílica de Santa María la Real de Covadonga, built in the Romanesque style beneath the impressive cliffs overshadowing it; the area inside the monastery walls; the Chapter house and many other symbolic monuments including the Cross of Victory obelisk; the bronze statue of Don Pelayo (the king of Asturias who was buried in the Holy Cave and had a special connection with Covadonga); and the 'Campanona', a 4m tall bell weighing 4 tonnes, which was cast in 1900.
The high plateaus of the Picos de Europa offer breathtaking landscapes in both summer and winter.© David Acosta Allely / 123RF