Asturias, Spain - Peaks and
Parks by Mark Buckingham
Asturias is one of the seventeen
autonomous communities of Spain, and can be found in the far north of the
country. Many of the autonomous communities of Spain are further sub-divided
into provinces and Asturias is no exception albeit there is only one province
in this region, which is also named Asturias.
The autonomous community
is bordered as follows:
The capital of the province,
along with the seaport of Gijón
and the industrial town of Avilés
are the most important cities of the region with other major towns including
Mieres, Siero, Cangas de Onís,
Cangas del Narcea, Grado, Lena, Laviana, El Entrego, Villaviciosa and Llanes.
on the east by Cantabria
on the south by Castilla y León
on the west by Galicia
on the north by the Cantabrian
mountain ranges spanning some 200 kilometres, characterize the landscape
of Asturias and within these ranges some of Spain's most exceptional nature
reserves, such as Picos de Europa and the national parks of Covadonga and
Somiedo, can be found.
Climbing, walking, skiing
and caving are just some of the activities which are catered for in this
Mecca for sports enthusiasts, whilst the lush green landscapes of the rest
of the region offers peace and tranquillity for the non-extreme amongst
us. Such is the contrast of the landscape that the question should be 'Where
else could you find high mountain peaks a few miles from a coastline which
has great beaches and colourful fishing villages?'
As extensive as it is spectacular,
the Asturian coastline is littered with hundreds of beaches, coves and
natural sea caves. Playa del Silencio (Beach of Silence) close to the fishing
village of Cudillero and the many, many beaches, which surround the summer
resort of Llanes,
are particularly noteworthy. Barro, Ballota and Torimbia (which is predominantly
a nudist beach) are just a few of these and it is not unusual to see grazing
livestock on top of the steep cliffs which border most of the fine, sandy
With an annual rainfall varying
between 1m and 1.5m, the province can claim to be one of the wettest in
the Iberian peninsular and Degaña, with its average of 2.13m per
year is one of the wettest areas within the region. The mountainous areas
of Asturias have, predictably, harsh and bitterly cold winter periods,
whilst in contrast, the coast enjoys mild summers and winters with yearly
average temperatures in Oviedo being 13ºC. Snowfall is commonplace
in the Somiedo and Picos regions between November and January.
Asturias is renowned for
both its seafood and for its regional dish Fabada Asturiana, which is a
rich, tasty stew made with large white beans, shoulder of pork, black sausage,
spicy sausage and saffron. The traditional alcoholic drink of the region
is a natural cider made with apples harvested from the many apple groves
here and it is usually served "El Escanciado". The bottle, when using this
method, must be held above head height, which allows the cider to have
a long vertical pour, and since it is bottled without gas, the cider becomes
aerated as it splashes into the glass giving it a pleasant, refreshing
taste. It is customary to pass the same glass around and for everyone to
drink from it. After each person takes his or her sip, a small amount of
the cider is splashed to the ground in a symbolic glass cleaning gesture
before passing it to the next person.
Asturias is also affectionately
known as "the land of cheeses". This is due chiefly to the wide variety
and quality of the regions famous product (especially the Cabrales).
The Way of Santiago
(along with all of its en-route monuments) and the Ruta de la Plata
(the "silver route") both traverse Asturias and are some of the regions
most favourite tourist attractions.
Regional Anthem -
The regional anthem of Asturias, 'Asturias, patria querdia' (Asturias,
my dear motherland), is a song which, as popular myth suggests, is sung
by intoxicated people across the whole of Spain, whereas in reality this
is not actually true. Francos' side first mentioned this idea during the
Spanish civil war in an effort to damage the reputation of the Asturian
Oviedo, the region's capital:
compromising of a diverse architecture, it is a clean and cosmopolitan
city. Some of the major highlights located to the north, are Santa María
del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, a pre-Roman church and a pre-Roman
castle respectively, which were built by the first Asturian Kings.
The Picos de Europa National
Park: The Picu Urriellu is probably the more famous of the mountains in
this range and is a molar-shaped peak which has an orange radiance in the
twilight sun which gives it its nickname of 'El Naranjo de Bulnes'.
The shrine to the Virgin
Mary of Covadonga and the mountain lakes near Cangas de Onís: The
Virgin Mary is said, according to legend, to have given Asturian soldiers
a timely signal to attack the Moorish conquerors, which by doing so took
the aggressors completely by surprise. The result is that the Reconquista
and unification of Spain, it is believed, began here in Asturias.
The Asturian coast: the beaches
and coves around the resort of LLanes are worthy of particular mention,
as is the Playa del Silencio close to the fishing village of Cudillero.
|Other Places of Interest
The mountains and nature reserves
of Asturias offer a timeless way of life, which is steeped in culture and
is enchantingly different from the busy Southern Costas. At least once
in a persons life a visit to Asturias should be on the agenda.
Ceceda village: notice the traditional
horreo grain silos, which are built on stilts which keeps field mice from
getting to the grain.
The Dobra River: its remarkable
colours and natural beauty make the river worthy of visiting if you are
in the area.
The 'senda costera' (coastal
way) between Pendueles and Llanes: some of the most impressive coastal
scenery can be seen whilst walking along this nature route. Among the many
spectacles are the bufones (water spouts naturally created by sea erosion)
and the Playa de Ballota.
A bizarre rock formation on
the beach at Buelna village that is best viewed at low tide.
Verde, Asturias, Spain
in Asturias / Top