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This small principality stretches along a section of the Cantabrian coastline between the rivers Eo and Deva, with its southernmost limits made up by the Cantabrian Mountains.
The abundance of rainfall and its geographical location has made Asturias a truly wealthy region in terms of flora, fauna and landscape.
It certainly possesses some of the wildest, most scenic countryside in Spain, as typified by the wonderful Picos de Europa, a diverse and mountainous National Park that spreads over the provinces Asturias, Cantabria and Castile & León. But it also includes seaside towns of some elegance, historic cities and fine coastal areas with sheer gorges and cliffs, not to mention its beaches. Its natural attributes make it a favourite location for many trekkers and climbers.
Gastronomy The sea, rivers “huertas” and mountains have endowed the Asturias with a fine gastronomic heritage, the main characteristics of which are its fine, natural ingredients and simplicity of preparation.
Well-known and traditional dishes include 'la fabada' (a large bean stew), perhaps the best-known and traditional dish in the Asturias. Unsurprisingly the abundance and quality of seafood manifests itself in some wonderful dishes, such as the “Calderada”, a sort of hot pot of various fish.
Fresh water fish, including trout and salmon, are plentiful from spring onwards.
One of the regions’ gastronomical delights is its locally produced cheese - over 30 different types made from cow, and goat’s milk. Look out for Cabrales, Gamonedo, and Los Beyos etc. All this fine food can be washed down with some excellent the excellent local cider; undoubtedly some of the finest in Spain, and to be found in plentiful supply throughout the regions many popular festivities.
History With its spectacular mountains providing an ever-present natural protection against invaders, Asturias has always been a proud and independent region. It’s people waged war for many years against the Romans, for example, and were able to resist the great Augustus for a decade, whilst the rest of the Peninsula was already under Roman control.
The Moors were also never able to conquer this region. The small Christian Kingdom began to spread throughout the Cantabrian region and in the 10th century, the capital was moved from Oviedo to Leon. In fact its monarchy began to call itself “Leonese”.
In 1388 Asturias became a Principality and from here on in the heir to the Spanish Crown was given the title of “Prince of Asturias”. Perhaps given it relative remoteness, Asturias only really figured again in the annals of Spanish politics during the 19th century, when it became one of the leading regions in the fight against the French invasion. With the death of Franco 1975 Spain began to decentralise and the region gained autonomous status and reverted to its historic title of Principality of Asturias in 1982.
Fiestas Numerous festivities in Asturias hark back to the region’s rural traditions, where typical dances and ancestral rites such as the “El corri-corri” and the “Danza Prima” are the norm. Examples include L'Amuravela at Cudillero, La Vaqueirada, at Aristébano (Luarca), the Fiesta del Pastor at El Lago Enol, La Regalina at Cadavedo, Los Huevos Pintos at Pola de Siero and the festivities of San Roque at Llanes.
In summer, almost all locales include some sort of excursion, or “Roméria”, in deference to their patron saints. Other great festivals include 'Las Piraguas' (canoe festival) at Ribadesella (officially classified as an event of interest to tourists).
Other important festivities include the 'Day of Asturias' at Gijón, and the 'Day of America' at Oviedo. Finally the Carnaval, a week of mardi gras like drinking and dancing that takes place in late February and early march. This event in Asturias, particularly, Áviles, is said to be one of the wildest of its type in Spain.
Handicrafts Many local craftsmen can be found in the small towns and villages, producing simple and traditional craft works in clay, iron (of particular note are the Taramundi iron workshops), wood copper and leather. Asturias also produces a wide variety kitchen tools and farm equipment, as well as the famous knives with boxwood handles.
It is worth looking out for the Celtic pottery, the so-called 'cerámica negra', or black pottery, which can be found at Faro (Oviedo) and Llamas de Mouro (Cangas del Narcea). Other forms of handicrafts include clog and basket making, ancient textiles (see the mills at Los Oscos) and jet trinket makers (in Eastern and Central Asturias).
Monuments The unique Asturian pre-Romanesque style (which anticipated, in some respects, the technical and artistic aspects of this great European movement) left some magnificent and beautiful constructions.
Fine examples include the beautiful Churches of Santa María del Naranco (perhaps the finest church in all Asturias), San Miguel de Lillo, Santa Cristina de Lena and San Salvador de Valdediós, all of which are located in Oviedo. Other fine examples include Monastery of San Salvador de Cornellana and the Churches of San Antolín de Bedón, Santa Maria de Valdediós and San Pedro de Villanueva.
Activities Lovers of wild nature are sure to enjoy Asturias, replete as it is with some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery, including the magnificent Picos de Europa. This is trekking, climbing and caving country par excellence.
It is also worth noting that Asturias has a strong pre-historic heritage.The region is sprinkled with numerous and worthy prehistoric monuments such as the Tito Bustillo Cave (Ribadesella) or El Idolo de Peña Tú (Llanes).
Those interested will enjoy a visit to the Archaeological Museum and Museum of Fine Arts in Oviedo. The local seaside resorts also provide fine beaches.
Romantic Hotels in Asturias
- Casona de La Paca
- El Bosque de las Viñas
- El Encanto de Avilés
- El Habana Llanes
- El Molino de Tresgrandas
- Hotel Rural 3 Cabos
- La Posada de Babel
- La Quinta de Villanueva
- Palacio de Cutre
- Torre de Villademoros
Romantic & boutique hotels by city in Asturias
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