No other Spanish city has as many streets designated as Pedestrian-Only as Oviedo, and it’s a joy to walk around the city center without having to stick to the sidewalks.
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.
The Way of Saint James, or the Camino de Santiago as it’s called in Spain, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian pilgrimages, probably right behind Jerusalem. Ending in Santiago de Compostela and starting from any number of spots, though usually in France, the pilgrimage requires a commitment of months.
The coast around Llanes is well-known as one of the most stunning areas in Spain, and during a recent trip there, we sought out one of the features which makes it special: Gulpiyuri beach.
I love living in Spain for a lot of reasons: siestas, wine, crazy parties, friendly people, the beautiful language. Also, I’m fascinated by history, and Spain is full of it. The Spanish Civil War is of particular interest; the ultimate left-right clash, the workers against the privileged, the cohesion of the Francoists and the suicidal splintering of the liberals, the cowardice of the world’s democracies, the brutality shown by foreign fascist powers, the self-sacrifice of the International Brigades and of course the war’s terrible, soul-crushing end. In this movie, the bad guys won. It’s utterly captivating.
In the middle of the University of Oviedo’s courtyard is a statue of its founder, Fernando Valdés Salas. The statue’s expression is fatherly; benevolent but stern. The sense conveyed is that Valdés was a serious educator dedicated to learning, and a kindly, wise man. But a little research reveals that a loathsome monster reigns in the University’s courtyard — rarely does history provide us such exquisitely evil characters as the Archbishop Fernando de Valdés.
Picture, for a moment, Manhattan. Important people dressed in suits rush hurriedly down sidewalks, juggling their cellphones, briefcases and coffee mugs. There’s no time to waste, and each confident stride has an extra kick of energy; if you’re faster than the other guy, you’ll get there first and win the contract! Get the promotion! American Dream coming through, make way!
In the bird’s eye view of Oviedo acheivable from the top of Mount Naranco, one building sticks out more than any other. Massive and gleaming white, with an otherworldly design, the Palacio de Congresos is unmistakable.
As we settle into our new home, different facets of life in Oviedo begin to emerge. The city is monumental, but surrounded by the most striking nature. And people seem to be happy, affluent and comfortable here. Yes, we realized early on that three months in Oviedo wouldn’t be a struggle.