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El Cristo – Oviedo from Above

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The neighborhood of El Cristo occupies a hill just south-west of the city center, and hosts the majority of the University of Oviedo’s facilities.

Power Plant Oviedo

We ascended into El Cristo, a hundred meters above the historic center, to check out the neighborhood. It’s a lively area full of students and residents, and interesting both for the crazy university architecture and the views over the valley.

Oviedo’s Plaza de Toros can be found in El Cristo, towards the foot of the hill. It’s out of use and has apparently become the hangout for the city’s alcoholics; at 11am, we saw a woman squatting in the bushes with her pants down, trying clownishly to maintain balance without letting go of her beer bottle. We named her “Sweetie”. Sweetie del Cristo.

The architecture is surreal, exactly what a sci-fi writer from 1964 might consider “futuristic”. Up at the very top of the hill, we arrived at the old meteorological center and a bunch of industrial storage silos, which would make a great location for a Hollywood chase scene. Overall, we liked El Cristo more than we thought we would. A cool contrast to the rest of Oviedo, which is so monumental and ancient.

Cristo Oviedo
meteorological-oviedo
Oviedo Students
Students Lost
Calatrava Swimming Pool
Soccer Oviedo
Oviedo You Tube
Oviedo Shapes
Oviedo
Hospital Oviedo
Oviedo Wired
Modern Art
Modern Art Photography
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September 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm Comments (2)

Santa Cristina de Lena

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“Pre-Romanesque” is a confusing architectural term. The style didn’t appear until centuries after the Romans, so it’s not exactly pre-Roman at all. Instead, the term refers to buildings which pre-date the Romanesque architecture of medieval times, named so because of its rounded Roman arches.

Santa Cristina de Lena

Further adding to the confusion is that the term “Pre-Romanesque” doesn’t have a concrete definition. There are no defining characteristics that relate the Pre-Romanesque architecture of Spain to that of, say, Croatia. It’s just a generic designation for any Western architecture that predates the Romanesque.

In other words, “Pre-Romanesque Architecture” has nothing whatsoever to do with Romans, nor with an architectural style. Maybe I’m slow, but that confused me for weeks.

The only Pre-Romanesque architecture in Spain is found in Asturias, since the rest of the peninsula was under the rule of the Moors (with their non-Western Mozarabic style). In and around Oviedo, there are many well-preserved examples, including the Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo. A less-visited church lays about 30km south of the city: Santa Cristina de Lena.

High up on a hill with an incredible view of the valley, the ancient church was constructed in the year 852. Those kind of dates still blow my mind: more than the length of my life squared. There’s clearly been a lot of reconstruction on the Santa Cristina, but the custodian pointed out many elements which are original, including a 7th-century Visigoth lattice which was worked into the decoration. This was a church built for the use of the king, with a royal tribune above the entranceway, and we found engravings of shells, indicating that it must have been (and probably still is) a minor stop on the Camino de Santiago.

It’s hard to find, but this church is definitely worth tracking down for fans of architecture. There’s also a Pre-Romanesque interpretation center in the nearby train station. Personally, the more of these buildings I saw, the more interesting they became.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Fairy Tale Asturias
Ray of Light
Sun Hole
A Sign
Santa Cristina de Lena
Churches of Asturias
Camino Santiago Shell
Asturian Monster
Roman Arches
Cristina Grill
Santa Cristina
Hear Cristina Lena
Asturias Heart
Details Churh Lena
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September 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm Comments (2)

The Asturian Museum of Fine Arts

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The incredible Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias is smack dab in the middle of Oviedo, just meters away from the Cathedral. Filled with modern and classic works spanning centuries, a visit is indispensable, especially considering the happy fact that it’s free.

Altarpiece-of-Saint-Marine

The museum, which opened in 1980, occupies two of the city’s most important historic buildings: the Palacio de Pedro Velarde, which houses the museum’s classic masterworks, and the Casa de Oviedo-Portal, with a collection of modern art. We recommend starting at the former, through its entrance on Calle Santa Ana, to proceed in a chronologically correct way through the museum’s artwork.

The modern art, with a heavy emphasis on Asturian works, is alright, but the museum’s real treasures are found in the Palacio Velarde. Dalí, Picasso, Sorrolla, Goya and more. We were impressed by El Greco’s series of the Twelve Apostles arranged around a large column, and also liked the massive Altarpiece of Saint Marine, which depicts twelve scenes from her life and six from the Passion.

The museum is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside, and is set to expand even further in the near future, with construction already underway on five additional buildings. Expect to spend a couple hours, to get through all the rooms.

If you have even a passing interest in art, make sure to check out the museum during your stay. Actually, even if you don’t have interest in art, you should go. Should you be so disinterested that a free museum filled with works from Spain’s greatest masters doesn’t entice you, you need to work a little on your cultural awareness, anyway.

Location on our Oviedo Map
Official Website

Wood Monster
Stone Doll
Wood Astronaut
Marbel Angel
Disco Ball Painting
Fine Art Museum Oviedo
Day @ the Beach
Art Critic
Asturian Painter COLORS
Sneak Peek Painting
Museo Bellas Artes Oviedo
El Greco Oviedo
Jesus 3D
Lady Boy
Shadow Fish Painting
praying
Steeling from the Blind
Santa Marine Mirror
Sant Marine

Art in the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid

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September 26, 2010 at 7:22 pm Comments (4)

Oviedo Photos

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I’ve lost count of all the pictures I’ve taken since we arrived in Oviedo, but it’s a ton! We’re planning to organize a photo exhibit about Asturias, in Savannah, Georgia – our next destination. It would be a way of introducing both ourselves and Asturias to a brand new audience.

Enjoy the latest set of random Oviedo pictures:

Asturias Dog
Virgin Oviedo
Asturian Childen
Oviedo Artist
Rustic Bar Oviedo
Mail Bar Oviedo
Sidra Oviedo
Sidra
Embutidos
Muchas Gracias
Oviedo Cow Statue
Azul Fontan Oviedo
Oviedo Bush
Sunset Oviedo
Oviedo at Night
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September 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm Comments (0)

The University of Oviedo

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Established in 1574, the University of Oviedo has been an important part of the city for centuries. Its founder was the Archibishop Fernando de Valdés Salas, an inquisitive chap whom we earlier profiled. Oviedo’s is the only public university in Asturias, and currently educates more than 25,000 students.

Lamap Biblioteca Oviedo

We took a tour of the original university hall, which is now used for exhibits, cultural events and special ceremonies. Set around a perfectly square courtyard, the lovely building includes a chapel, auditorium, classrooms and an impressive library.

The University chugged along through the Ages of Reason and Enlightenment, and into Modernity, until the Miner’s Strike of 1934, when it was nearly destroyed by workers who saw it as a symbol of the privileged bourgeois. The destruction was completed shortly thereafter, during the Civil War, and teaching came to a complete halt. It remained closed for years, and evidence of warfare is even today visible in the holes and scars of the building’s walls.

The 45-minute long tour was interesting throughout, especially when demonstrating how tightly connected to religion the Spanish education system used to be. Today, classes take place in the modern University buildings of the neighborhood of El Cristo, as well as on campuses in Gijón and Mieres.

Location on our Oviedo Map
More Information about the History of the University

Archibishop Fernando Oviedo
Uni Sigel Oviedo
University Bells
Oviedo University
Miner Strike War
Spain Traces of War
Lady Full of Wonders
Like a Painting Oviedo
School Curtain
I heart school
Oviedo University Tour
Philipus Oviedo
Fluffy Hat
University Hallway
Biblioteca Oviedo
Buechrei Oviedo
Spain Library Stairs
Oviedo Biblioteca

Camiseta Oviedo

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September 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm Comments (2)

Adiós, San Mateo

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San Mateo 2010

The biggest festival of the year in Oviedo came to a close yesterday, on September 21st. For eleven days, the city had seen its streets converted into a massive carnival. To be honest, we felt a little relieved it was finally over.

Related San Mateo posts on our blog:

  • San Mateo Has Arrived
  • The 60th Day of America
  • Fireworks for San Mateo
  • Check out this final batch of pictures from the fiesta. Crazy times.

    San Mateo Lights
    Selling Balloons
    Sex in the Streets
    San Mateo
    Festival Oviedo
    Jazz San Mateo
    Oviedo Jazz
    San Mateo Concert
    El Bicho
    Clean Oviedo

    Best Rental Car Prices Spain

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    September 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm Comment (1)

    Gijón’s Universidad Laboral

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    Are you looking for a Hotel in Gijón?

    The largest building in Spain is found in Gijón. About three miles outside the city center, the massive Universidad Laboral gobbles up 66 acres of land. Built between 1946 and 1956, the Laboral is an astounding memorial to the grandiloquence and megalomania of the Franco era.

    Universidad Laboral

    The Laboral was originally designed to be an orphanage for the children of miners. But during construction, they adapted its purpose to that of a Technical College (“screw the brats!”). Luis Moya, the lead architect, envisioned the Laboral as a Utopian, fully enclosed and self-sustaining city, with its own “Plaza Mayor”, church and theater, and even a farm.

    For generations, the university was one of Spain’s largest, churning out legions of highly-skilled craftsmen. No one can complain about that, but the building itself has always been highly contentious, with many viewing the Francoist monolith as an embarrassing blight on the edge of Gijón. That disdain worsened in the 1980s, when the university closed up and the Laboral fell into an awful state of disrepair. But the Asturian government came to the rescue in 2001, initiating reforms that have today converted the Laboral into a multi-use complex, with art exhibits, tours, theater and music, and educative functions.

    There’s something haunting about large structures, and since we visited on a quiet, drizzly Sunday afternoon, the eerie sense of desolation was emphasized. As we wandered the deserted halls, I kept expecting to hear shrieks from forgotten laboratories behind shuttered doors, or be attacked by a disfigured hunchback hiding around a darkened corner. If it wanted to, the Laboral could host the greatest haunted house of all time.

    Besides our trip up the tower, we visited an awesome temporary art exhibit in the old university kitchens, and got a drink at the cafe overlooking a large pool, but soon ran out of things to do. I’d recommend calling ahead and making sure to visit while guided tours are going on. In any case, the building is outrageous, and well worth seeing if you’re in Gijón.

    Location on our Asturias Map
    Official Website (English)

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    Laboral
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    Gijon University
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    September 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm Comments (2)

    Fireworks for San Mateo

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    Last night, Oviedo invited the pyrotechnic company to light up the Parque de Invierno with fireworks. The Valencian company also did the closing of the World Cup, and we are already well familiar with their incredible work from our time in Valencia.

    San Mateo

    It was a great night for fireworks, and the show didn’t disappoint. We found a spot on the side of a steep hill, and watched a display that seemed to go on forever. Something Valencians understand about fireworks, is that noise can be just as important as visuals, and the rhythmic, perfectly timed sounds were almost as impressive as the explosions themselves.

    San Mateo is winding down! Today’s a holiday, and then it’s all over…

    Book your Hotel for San Mateo

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    September 21, 2010 at 11:19 am Comments (0)

    Pizzería La Competencia on the Ruta del Vino

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    Here’s a tip for young entrepreneurs. Want to make sure your new bar is massively popular? Offer free slices of pizza with every drink. And make the drinks crazy-cheap.

    Pizzeria-La-Competencia

    It works for Pizzería La Competencia, on Calle de Manuel Pedregal, a street otherwise known as Oviedo’s “Wine Route”. I couldn’t believe my ears when the waitress said “€2.20”, after setting down two large glasses of wine and two pieces of pizza. Just to make sure, we ordered another round. Yep, that was the price!

    But, we wanted to make extra-extra-sure, so we ordered another round. All in the service of providing accurate information to our loyal readers.

    As you might expect, this place gets really crowded in the evenings, and patience is required to find a seat. The perfect spot to start out a long night.

    Pizzería La Competencia
    Calle de Manuel Pedregal 3

    Location on our Oviedo Map

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    September 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm Comment (1)

    The 60th Day of America

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    One of the biggest days of San Mateo is September 19th, the Día de América, when Oviedo celebrates its relationship with the New World. The immigrants who’ve moved to Spain, Asturians who went abroad, and the mixture of cultures are all represented in a big parade that shuts down the city.

    60 Dia de America

    We had the chance to see the 60th annual parade. It was a lively affair, featuring both the traditional music of Asturian bagpipes and flutes, and the more buoyant rhythms of the Caribbean and Latin America. There were about twenty floats, each with a different theme, from life at Catholic missions abroad, to scantily clad Caribbean beauties jiggling their lady parts.

    The weather was perfect and the both the spectators and participants clearly had a lot of fun, except for the guy in front of us who got a face-full of foam. Definitely one of the most colorful days of the year in Oviedo.

    spectators
    Spanish Spectators
    Hot Air Balloon Asturias
    Mexican Dudes
    Mexican
    Parade Oviedo
    Pawned at San Mateo
    Happy Kids
    White Party Oviedo
    Asturian Fairy Tail
    Elf Asturias
    Asturian Bruja
    Face of Asturias
    Dia de America
    WTF Clown
    Disney Parade Spain
    Escanciar
    Escanciador
    Asturian Greeting
    Snow Priest
    Knight Asturias
    Asturian Explorer
    Monster
    LOL
    Quasi Modo
    Asturias Dragon
    Sexy Samba
    HUNK
    Sexy Girls Oviedo
    Carneval Rio Oviedo
    Hunky Stud Oviedo
    Bomberos Oviedo
    Golden Eagle Oviedo
    Peru Spain
    Butterfly Queen
    Cute
    Blacksmith Oviedo
    Sexy Man Socks
    Bag Pipes
    Face Of Oviedo
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    September 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm Comments (5)

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    El Cristo - Oviedo from Above The neighborhood of El Cristo occupies a hill just south-west of the city center, and hosts the majority of the University of Oviedo's facilities.
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