Travel Guides Spain | Guide to Asturias

Guide to Asturias

What to do and see in Asturias?

The Province of Asturias is located in the northwest of Spain. It covers 10,564 km2 and has around a million inhabitants. It borders with 4 other provinces: Galicia to the west, Cantabria to the east and to the south León and Burgos. The capital of Asturias is Oviedo (see Guide to Oviedo).

Asturias is also known as the 'Spanish Switzerland ' or 'Green Spain' due to its lush countryside and high mountinous areas. In reality the landscape here varies enormously. Around 30% of the area consists of protected countryside. It has 1 National Park, 3 Nature Parks, 10 Nature Reserves and 10 Protected Natural Areas as well as 35 natural monuments. Asturias

Due to the rise in popularity of rural tourism, Asturias offers visitors all sorts of accommodation options from quality hotels (for further information see reviews: Hotels in Asturias), to a wide variety of country cottages, holiday apartments and campsites.






There are high mountinous areas: the Picos de Europa, the Bosque Atlántico(the Atlantic forest), the Cordillera Cantábrica mountains and many valleys and coastal areas stretching 345 kms. Asturias is separated from Castilla-León by the mountain range known as the Cordillera Cantábrica. The Asturian coastline is made up of open beaches and steep cliffs with pretty coves. The Tina Menor, Ribadesella, Villaviciosa, Avilés, Pravía, Eo, Navía rivers all flow into the Cantabrican sea.

As mentioned above the vegetation varies widely depending on where you are in Asturias. In the area characterized by its valleys and fast flowing rivers in the north of the province there are meadows and forests consisting of oak, beech, walnut and lime trees and there are lots of pastures where animals graze. The south of the province is characterized by its mountains, some of which are the highest in Spain. This is where the 'the Picos de Europa' are situated, some say they are one of nature's natural wonders shared by both Asturias and Cantabria alike. El Naranjo de Bulnes, Torre Carredo, Peña Santa are just some of the summits here. For those who are fans of skiing there are some excellent ski slopes such as: Valgrande-Pajares which is just 75 kms from Oviedo in the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range.

Oviedo, the capital, is the administrative, commercial and political centre of the province. There are 2 other important cities ,Gijón, which has the largest number of inhabitants and is the most industrial part of the province as well as being a tourist centre. Avilés is the third largest city in Asturias.

Because of its geographical position pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela pass through this province which forms part of the Camino de Santiago. Asturias is an important tourist destination partly due to its historical and artistic heritiage but also for its excellent gastronomy.

Climate: Asturias has a typical Atlantic climate except in the moutinous areas where its colder in winter. Temperatures are moderate and it rains often throughout the year. Summer temperatures are quite cool compared to other parts of the country, on average just 22º and the sea here is cold. Winters are quite mild. Another reason why people come to Asturias is to escape the heat.

Asturias is connected to the rest of Spain by road: the N-634 connects it to the east (Irún, Cantábria, the Basque Country); the N-634 connects it to the west (Tuy, Galicia); the A-66 and the N-630 connect it to the south (Castilla-León, Madrid....) This province is also connected to the rest ofthe country by rail: RENFE (98 526 02 02) and there is also an important coach network that connects it to the whole of Spain. There is an airport in Oviedo (located in Castrillón-Santiago del Monte, 43 Kms from Oviedo, Tel: 985 127 500) Iberia operates flights to: Barcelona, Madrid; Air Nostrum: Barcelona, Paris and London; Air Europa operates flights to: Alicante, Mallorca and Tenerife and Spainair operates flights to Madrid.


Places to visit in the province of Asturias

There are several touristic routes to follow in Asturias. Perhaps the most popular is the Pre-Romanesque route (Before the Asturian kingdom was created) and the Asturian part of the Camino de Santiago.

  • The Pre-Romanesque Route: This is where you can see the creation of the Asturian Kingdom which was the first Christian kingdom in the Peninsula and is represented by 14 religious buildings built between the 9th and 10th centuries. The Dynasty began during the reconquest led by King Don Pelayo, the victor in the battle of Covadonga against the Moors in 722 and ended with Alfonso III el Magno in 910, following this the kingdom was annexed by the kingdom of Castilla-León and the capital moved to León. There are 4 specific routes to follow:

    • Route 1 - In and near Oviedo : the Cathedral, San Tirso el Real church, La Foncalada fountain, San Julián de los Prados church in Santullano, Santa María del Naranco Palace and San Miguel de Lillo church.
    • Route 2 - The area around Oviedo: Santa María de Bendones church 5 kms away, Santa Cristina de Lena church in Pola de Lena.
    • Route 3 - Nalón and nearby: San Pedro de Nora church in Llanera 12 Kms from Oviedo on the road to Galicia; Santo Adriano de Tuñón church in Santo Adriano, San Juan de Santianes Basílica in Pravia also on the road to Galicia.
    • Route 4 - Villaviciosa and Colunga: San Salvador de Valdediós church in San Pedro de Ambás- Villaviciosa, San Salvador Priesca church in Villaviciosa, Santiago de Gobiendes church in Colunga.

  • The Asturian Camino de Santiago: In the 9th century King Alfonso II created the Jacobean route to connect Oviedo with Santiago de Compostela through the interior of Asturias - the Interior Route passes through Oviedo, Las Regueras, Girado, Salas, Tineo, Allande and Grandas de Salime . The Coastal Route passes through all the Asturian coastal towns and villages. The Interior Route was used until the Coastal Route (also known as the French Route) was created in the 13th century and became the most popular. It passed through León, Lena, Mieres, Ribera de Arriba and Oviedo.


The History of Asturias

Asturias historical legacy begins in Prehistory in the Bronze Age from which important archeological remains of Celtic settlements, cave paintings and various tools used during this period remain. Later the Romans arrived under Emperor Augusto who occupied and imposed Roman culture and traditions on the existing Cantabrican tribes. Roads were built to connect cities and transport riches to Rome as well as aquaducts and bridges to take water to cities. Thermal baths and great houses were also built during the Roman occupation.

AsturiasAsturias was also reconquered by King Don Pelayo, who in the well known battle for Covandonga, in 723 defeated the Arabs in their attempt to occupy these lands. Since then Covadonga was given a royal title and has become a place of pilgrimage every year on 8th September. King Don Pelayo was responsible for imposing the Asturian dynasty which lasted until 910 the year in which the kingdom of Asturias was incorporated in to the kingdom of Castilla. During this dynasty's reign the Asturian Pre-Romanesque style was created mainly thanks to King Alfonso II el Casto, who was responsible for creating the model for religious buildings as much for the rest of the country as for Europe. There are some magnificent Pre-Romanesque buildings as there are Romanesque.

In 1388 the Principality of Asturias was created which is why all those first in line to the Spanish throne are given the title of Príncipe de Asturias (Prince of Asturias).

During the Renaissance important houses and palaces in a Baroque or Renaissance style were built. Later on more palaces were built by emigrants returning from the Americas using thier new found wealth.

Centuries later Asturias underwent industrialization with the creation of coal mines and the steel industry which completely changed its outlook of Spain which had depended until then on seafaring and agriculture. In 1934 a revolt by coal miners and their unions had a significant impact on Spanish politics which 2 years later ended up in civil war.


What to buy in Asturias

Asturias Asturias is well known for its handmade crafts which means that there are many interesting things to buy here. Typical products to buy are black ceramics, wooden clogs and hand crafted wooden objects, knives and leather goods...

Where to buy

  • Wooden Clogs (called Madreñas here): Casomera, Campo de Caso, Penacoba.
  • Gold and Silver Jewellery with Jet: Villaviciosa
  • Wine ...: Langreo.
  • Bags and Leather Goods: Mieres.
  • Black Ceramics: Llamas del Mouro, Miranda, Faro (Limanes),
  • Restored Antique Furniture: Mieres.
  • Glazed Ceramics: Faro (Limanes)
  • Knives: Taramundi is famous for these.
  • Earthenware and Wicker Baskets: Pasaron.
  • Different types of Cheese, honey, cold meats like chorizo (spicy sausages) tinned tuna and sardines, peppers...
Travelling to Asturias? The following links may also be useful
Guides provinces bordering with Asturias and beautiful places in Spain nearby
Travel guides to Spain Travel guides to Spain
Guide to Alicante Guide to Almeria
Guide to Avila Guide to Barcelona
Guide to Caceres Guide to Castellon
Guide to Cuenca Guide to Girona
Guide to Guipuzcoa Guide to Lerida
Guide to Murcia Guide to Tarragona
Guide to Valencia Guide to Zamora
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