Just 300 steps from the Santa María del Naranco, we find its companion building: San Miguel de Lillo. Ramiro I built both in the same year, 848, for different purposes; Santa María as a recreational palace, and San Miguel as a church. Together, they make Oviedo's Naranco Hill one of the most important areas for Pre-Romanesque art in all of Europe.
King of Asturias for 51 years, from 791 until his death in 842, Alfonso II el Casto had an impact on Oviedo that has barely diminished over the course of the centuries.
The villages of Tuñón and Entrago, found south of Oviedo, are connected by the Senda del Oso, a popular trail running through the valley carved by the Trubia River. Formerly a track for mining trains, the trail has been converted for recreational use and has a lot to recommend it: rapids, tunnels, cliffs, fountains, villages and, yes, bears.
Entering 80 years of history, the International Descenso del Sella has become one of the most important events on the Asturian calendar. Over 300,000 people showed up to watch this year's canoe and kayak race and participate in a week full of parties.
Originally constructed in 848, the Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo are Oviedo's most important Pre-Romanesque structures.
Once in awhile we'll be posting a random set of photos, which don't easily fit into other posts, but are too good to ignore! These are all from our first week in Oviedo, and reveal some of my initial impressions.
Possibly because I'm from the USA, where a building from 1910 is considered ancient, I'm fascinated by European history. A city like Oviedo, with centuries engraved into almost every corner and churches over one thousand years old... well, it's too much for my little corn-fed American mind to fully comprehend.
Oviedo's most celebrated monument is the Catedral de San Salvador, found in the middle of the city and visible from miles away. Closely linked with the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage leading to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the cathedral is also known as Sancta Ovetensis in reference to the abundance of important artifacts stored inside.
Oviedo is renowned for the statues which have been graced its streets since the early 1990s. From classic sculptures to modern art, a walk through Oviedo is like strolling through a giant open-air museum. A few really stand out, none more so than El Regreso de Williams B. Arrensberg, by Eduardo Úrculo, in the Plaza de Porlier.
Despite the overcast weather on Saturday, we decided to check out the evocatively named Playa del Silencio: the Beach of Silence. After a 40 minute drive from Oviedo, access to the beach can be found in the tiny village of Castañeras
Cider (sidra) is a way of life in Asturias. Asturians drink cider at all times of the day, wherever they are. On the beach, in their houses, with lunch, with dinner and probably breakfast, before going to bed, when they're happy, sad or bored. Sidrerías blanket Oviedo, particularly on Calle Gascona, otherwise known as the Boulevard of Cider.
The drive from Valencia to Oviedo is a long one, so it's lucky that the Spanish countryside is so beautiful. We needed seven hours to reach Salamanca, where we grabbed a beer in the massive Plaza Mayor, and spent the night. Before leaving the next morning, we had time to explore the cathedral, which must be the only church in the world that has a space-walking astronaut sculpted into its facade.