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Covadonga – The Spiritual Capital of Asturias

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Oviedo may be the political center of the Principality of Asturias, but Covadonga is its spiritual heart. This mountain sanctuary near Cangas de Onís is where King Pelayo led a ragtag bunch of Christians to victory over a much larger Muslim force in the 8th century. It was Christianity’s first triumph since the Moorish conquest of Iberia, and marked the beginning of the 800-year Reconquista.

covadonga asturias

The Catholic church wasted no time in claiming Covadonga as its own, and declared the area a religious mega-site. You see, Pelayo’s men didn’t just use the mountainous terrain and their knowledge of it to turn back the Moors, the Holy Virgin of Covadonga assisted them.

Visiting is an odd experience. The grotto of Covadonga is undeniably beautiful, and does have a magical feeling about it. Supposedly, it rests on a ley line. But it’s also a solemn, strange Catholic Disneyland. Step right up kids, and see Pelayo’s final resting place! No talking please, this is a church. And now right over here, folks, we have the Fountain of Marriage! That’s correct, ladies, one drink from this enchanted water and you’ll be at the alter in no time! Pictures are allowed here, since it’s just kinda holy.

Oooh, only brave souls this way! That’s right, we’re entering the Holy Cave! Please no horseplay, kids, this is a holy cave, after all. And who’s this lovely lady, to your right? Why it’s our friend, the Virgin of Covadonga. NO PICTURES! She is most sacred! But if you’ll follow me right this way, we’ll enter the gift shop where you can buy pictures of La Santina and all manner of fabulous religious paraphernalia!

If you’re Catholic or superstitious or new-agey or into kitsch, you’re going to love Covadonga. But for cynics like myself and Juergen, it was a little much. The Basilica is gorgeous, set against the mountains, and it was fun to walk around a bit. There’s also museum on the grounds, which wasn’t very interesting; instead of history, I got artless portraits of archbishops and their robes.

But no trip to Asturias is complete without visiting Covadonga. Regardless of your views on religion and spirituality, it’s a haunting and interesting place.

Visit the Lakes of Covadonga

Covadonga Bell
Cruzes Covadonga
Covadonga Shrine
Covadonga Chapel
Virgin Covadonga
Cueva Silencia
Wedding Fountain
Covadonga Snake
Pelayo
Pelayo Perro
Covadonga
Lost in Covadonga
Organ Covadonga
Cruz Asturias
Beichtstuhl
My Covadonga
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October 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm Comments (0)

The Fountain of the Foncalada

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“With this sign the pious are protected, With this sign you shall defeat the enemy”
Fontan Foncalada

This is the inscription engraved upon the Foncalada: a fountain near the city center, and the only remaining civil service structure in Asturias still standing from the Middle Ages. It was constructed in the 9th Century at the behest of King Alfonso III, and features the Victory Cross above the inscription.

In 2008, the Foncalada was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. That the fountain still works is remarkable in and of itself. We walked by about 50 times without ever descending the stairs to check it out. Don’t make that mistake: the Foncalada takes about 10 seconds to see, and is definitely worth a picture.

Location of the Fuente de Foncalada

Cruz Asturias
Foncalada
Fontan Asturias
Middle Ages Oviedo

Oviedo Shirt

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October 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm Comments (0)

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)
Covadonga - The Spiritual Capital of Asturias Oviedo may be the political center of the Principality of Asturias, but Covadonga is its spiritual heart. This mountain sanctuary near Cangas de Ons is where King Pelayo led a ragtag bunch of Christians to victory over a much larger Muslim force in the 8th century. It was Christianity's first triumph since the Moorish conquest of Iberia, and marked the beginning of the 800-year Reconquista.
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