The decision to squirrel away all our worldly possessions in storage and embark on this travel project was not without risks. Any number of things might have gone wrong, and if we didn't pick a great city for our initial leg, it could have been a disaster. We had to choose something perfect, and really hit the jackpot with Oviedo.
The priests at the Cathedral were kind enough to grant us special access to the bell tower to take some shots of Oviedo from above. The stairs are in poor condition, so it's understandable why the tower is normally closed to the public. Looking out over the city, Juergen and I both became melancholic. Our three months in Oviedo had come to an end.
The Teatro Campoamor is Oviedo's most important theater, home to the annual Prince of Asturias awards in October and the scene of operas and theater pieces throughout the year.
The future Queen of Spain is a carbayón. The beautiful and glamorous Letizia, Princess of Asturias, was born in Oviedo in 1972 and married Prince Felipe in 2004. And when he ascends to the throne, she will become the first Spanish Queen who was born a commoner.
Figures I'd discover this bookstore days before we leave! Filled with books about Asturias, trinkets, a couple tables for tea and esoteric tomes, Paraxuga is a super-cute little bookshop on Calle Paraíso.
Sidra has been a big part of our Asturian experience -- from learning the art of the Escanciado, to sitting with friends at one of the many sidrerías on Calle Gascona. There's something grandly social about cider, and we've made sure to drink as much as possible.
Every day, thousands of people fly right past the most well-preserved and impressive Pre-Romanesque church in all of Spain: the Iglesia de San Julián de los Prados. Also known as the Santullano (from Sanct Iulianus), the ancient church lays along the highway which unites Oviedo and Gijón.
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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.
In 1884, Leopold Alas, better known by his pen name of Clarín, wrote a massive novel which would eventually be regarded as one of the 19th century's best. La Regenta is a fictional account of the life and loves of Ana Ozores, a noblewoman who marries a man far older than herself, but allows herself to be pursued by two other suitors: the town's resident heartthrob and a priest. Scandal!
The first time we sat down at Tierra Astur, a sidrería at the very top of the "Boulevard of Cider", it was just for drinks. But it was dinnertime and we watched with growing despondency as plate after plate of mouthwatering Asturian food was delivered to other tables. By the time we left, my stomach was growling like an angry Rottweiler. "Calm yourself, friend", I whispered soothingly, "Soon we shall return and a succulent feast shall be your reward!"