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Plaza del Paraguas – The Umbrella Plaza

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Our first two months in Asturias were marked by incredibly sunny weather. People kept warning us that this wasn’t normal, and to prepare ourselves for rain in October.

They were right. The entire month of October was grey and rainy. One particularly miserable Saturday night, we got caught in a downpour on our way home from the bars. The streets were full of young party people, and all of them were wielding umbrellas. I found that amusing; it would never occur to me to bring my umbrella clubbing, but such precaution is second-nature to Asturians.

Rain is a part of life here, and the Plaza del Paraguas is a cute wink to Oviedo’s dreary weather. Found at the end of Calle San Isidro, the “Umbrella Plaza” is popular with the city’s youth as an evening hang-out spot. It was developed in the 1920s as a milk market, and the large concrete umbrella in the center provided cover for the milk ladies.

Location on our Oviedo Map

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October 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm Comments (0)

Visiting the Somiedo Natural Park

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Looking for a Hotel in Somiedo?

We chose an excellent day to visit the Somiedo National Park, found a couple hours south of Oviedo. The sun was bright and the weather warm. With a refreshing breeze coming from the north, it was a perfect early-autumn day, putting us in great spirits and bringing out the most beautiful aspects of the park.

Somiedo Photos

Somiedo is both a municipality of a couple thousand people and a Natural Park, part of which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. With mountains reaching over 2000 meters, a rich diversity of fauna and flora, and a scarce human presence, it’s an uncommonly lovely region.

The most famous inhabitants of Somiedo are the endangered Cantabrian brown bears. Though they reach up to two meters in height and 200 kilos in weight, the bears are timid and had been on the verge of extinction due to poaching and human encroachment. But recent conservation and protection efforts have seen their number grow. We were on the lookout, but I think actually spotting one is nearly impossible. The bears have learned to stay away from humans.

Cattle farming is the way of life among somedanos, as the few people who live in the park refer to themselves. Theirs is a pastoral lifestyle straight out of the 1700s. Farmers still moved their herds by foot across the mountains and valleys, and make use of cabins called teitos, which are stone buildings with a thatched straw roof: a construction unique to Somiedo. Spotted across the valleys, teitos blend in well to the stony landscape, suggesting a human presence that exists in a respectful relationship with the Earth.

During our trip, we also visited the majestic Lago del Valle, the largest lake in Asturias, which demands a long hike through the valley to reach.

Location on our Day Trips Map

Green Spain
Flowers Asturias
Fauna Somiedo
Hiking Somiedo
Nature
Asturias Paradise
Asturias Rocks
Asturias Montanas
Somiedo Cuevas
Asturias
Cows Somiedo
Cricket Sex
bug
Somiedo Road Trip
Somiedo Hiking
Somiedo Asturias
Somiedo
Straw Hut
Somiedo Hut
teito
Dinosaur Asturias

Everything Asturias

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September 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm Comments (7)

Parque del Campillín

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An oddly-shaped park on the southern side of the city, the Campillín is the second largest green area in the city center, behind the Campo de San Francisco. To be honest, though, it’s less a “park” than the side of a hill outfitted with paths and benches.

In the middle ages, blacksmiths practiced their craft in the Campillín, and in 1829 it was shuttered up after having become a place of rampant prostitution. During the Civil War, the park was completely destroyed. It’s only recently been renovated, and now host a popular flea market on Sundays with second-hand clothes, toys, films, books, and any other type of junk you might care to imagine.

This being Oviedo, there are also plenty of statues in the park, including one of the author Ramón Pérez de Ayala, who was born in a nearby building. His most famous work is “Belarmino y Apolonio”, a 1921 novel analyzing transcendental doubt and the religious soul, available for free download if you’re really have nothing better to do.

Although the Campillín isn’t as beautiful as San Francisco, it’s worth passing through when you find yourself on that side of the city. Perhaps after a big meal at the nearby Yantar de Campomanes.

Location on our Oviedo Map

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September 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm Comments (3)

La Plaza de Daoíz y Velarde

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The Plaza de Daoíz y Velarde is a quiet, tree-lined plaza which offers a respite from the noisy marketplace and cafés of the adjacent Plaza Fontán. Especially when bathed in the late afternoon sunlight, it’s a beautiful place and home to the city library, a palace, a legendary fountain and, of course, a statue.

Plaza de Daoiz y Velarde

The library building began life in 1665 as the Teatro de Comedias, lending a classic atmosphere to the endless shelves of books about Asturias, comics, DVDs and an oddly popular reading room. When we visited on a sunny Monday morning, it was completely full with old men reading newspapers. Never heard of the internet, guys?

Next to the library is the Palacio del Duque del Parque, a Baroque construction with an exquisitely detailed facade. Today, it’s privately owned by the Marquis de San Feliz, meaning visits are impossible, which is too bad, but also means that marquises still exist, which is awesome. A smaller building diagonal to the palace, with reliefs of horsemen and jockeys, was the former stables. Between the two, down a gated flight of stairs, is a curious little fountain.

The cañu de El Fontán is the subject of a popular legend. The water exits a spout very low to the ground. When an overly haughty knight visited Oviedo, the citizens would ask him to drink from the cañu. The only way for him to do so, was to kneel and bow his head. I can just imagine the medieval townspeople chortling over their demonic wit.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Canu de El Fontan
Palacio del Duque del Parque
Palacio del Duque del Parque
City Library
The City Library
Vendedoras

Also Visit Plaza del Riego in Oviedo

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September 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm Comment (1)

Plaza del Riego

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Found near the historic seat of the University of Oviedo, the Plaza del Riego is a small, triangular shaped plaza in the center of the city, which buzzes with activity from morning until evening, when its outdoor terraces are consistently packed.

Plaza del Riego

Formed by the streets of Ramon y Cajal and Peso, the plaza owes its name to the Asturian military hero Rafael del Riego, a general who led the 1817 revolution against an incompetent King Ferdindand VII. The revolt was successful and, after the king was imprisoned in Madrid, Riego became the Asturian delegate in a short-lived constitutional period. Unfortunately, France and other European monarchies didn’t like the idea of a Republican Spain, and soon sent in armies to restore Ferdinand VII. Riego was sent to the gallows.

Before renaming it honor of their fallen hero, ovetenses referred to this area as the Plaza de la Picota, or “pillory”. It was here that lawbreakers and heretics who ran afoul of the inquisition would be punished. The sculpture in the center of the plaza is an archaic meteorological column, which holds the bust of Rafael de Riego and a plaque honoring his achievements.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Riego Oviedo
Rafael del Riego
Cafe Bar Oviedo
Historic Oviedo
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August 26, 2010 at 9:44 am Comments (5)

El Campo de San Francisco

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A 22-acre park in the middle of the city, the Campo de San Francisco is Oviedo’s green heart; a space of tranquility and relaxation much appreciated by residents.

Oviedo Old Gate

Since the founding of Oviedo, the park has been protected from development and, apart from being used for military drills in the 1th century, has always been a place for rest and recreation. Trapezoidal in shape, San Francisco contains over 120 types of trees from every continent on earth (except Antarctica, which doesn’t really count anyway), with an emphasis on Asturian species.

Peacocks are the park’s most famous residents. A number of the proud birds strut about the grounds uninhibited and unimpressed by the presence of humans. During our trips to the park, they kept their feathers hidden, much to our frustration. We tried whistling and chirping, and spooking them. I got desperate enough to consider spraying myself with peacock pheromones.

San Francisco is a place for a Sunday stroll, and not at all a park apt for blankets, football and picnics. With a large number of statues, occasional concerts and art exhibits, and beautiful fountains, there’s plenty to see. And if leisurely strolls wear you out, there’s an outdoor café where you can stop for coffee. The Campo de San Francisco is truly emblematic of Oviedo: small, ancient, beautiful, relaxed, rich in statues and history, and just a tiny bit posh. We love it.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Granpas Oviedo
Bucket Palm
El Campo Del San Francisco
Oviedo Palms
Francisco Fontan
Kiosk Oviedo
Oviedo Duck
Oviedo Frog
Oviedo Snail
Oviedo Peacock
Peacock House
Peacock
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August 17, 2010 at 11:53 am Comments (10)
Plaza del Paraguas - The Umbrella Plaza Our first two months in Asturias were marked by incredibly sunny weather. People kept warning us that this wasn't normal, and to prepare ourselves for rain in October.
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