Oviedo and Pre-Romanesque Art

San Miguel de Lillo

The next part of our journey took us into the area of Oviedo where we went to admire the Pre-romanesque architecture.

Mainly in the 8th century, during the Asturian kingdom, the combining of elements from other styles like Visigothic, Mozarabic and local traditions created its own characteristic architecture. We found it incredible that there are so many well preserved remains of this time.

Our first destination was the Iglesia de San Salvador de Valdedíos south of Villaviciosa, consecreted in 893 with seven bishops in attendance. (43.437389, -5.506627)

Iglesia  de San Salvador de Valdediós
Beautiful mullion with horseshoe arches and alfiz

In the evening we passed Gijon, which has quite a lot of industry on the outskirts, until we reached Cabo de Peñas, which is the most northern point of Asturias. (43.654803, -5.848928)

Cabo de Peñas Lighthouse
Cabo de Peñas
Cabo de Peñas

There is a nice path along the coast. We walked around the cape in the evening and next morning we went for a longer walk in the drizzling rain, ending it at the restaurant next to the lighthouse with coffee and delicious pastry.

Our next goal was Cudillero, further east on the coast, where we parked at the harbour and walked into the fishing village. (43.568102, -6.153294)


After visiting the village and lunch in the rain, we headed for the La Quinta Palace in El Pito, but sadly it was closed, the palace and garden looked inviting. So we drove to the next cape – Cabo Vidio – where we spent the rest of the day and stayed the night. (43.589374, -6.240035)

Cabo Vidio Lighthouse
Summer in Asturias, always a change of weather
Path to the beach

The next day, the weather was better and we left the coast in direction of Oviedo. Stopping at Grado for some shopping and coffee we reached Tuñon, where we parked next to the BTT (mountain bike) center and took our bikes out. (43.291604, -5.982728)
The Via Verde starts here – a cycle path along a former railway line. it’s called Via Verde del Oso, as it is in bear country. This Via Verde has the form of a fork. Curious as we are we did both parts, cycling for 4,5 hours through green valleys, along rivers and through tunnels and gorges.
Information Via Verde del Oso

Beautiful landscape near Tuñon
Via Verde del Oso
Via Verde del Oso
Many longer and shorter tunnels to pass
Beautiful villages

I found the track to Entrago more beautiful, but both tracks are worth while doing.
At Entrago the path ends at a caravan parking, from there another path leads further into the mountains.
After a tour like this we always appreciate that we can have a shower as soon as we return to the camper. We prepared late lunch/early supper and relaxed for a while before we changed to a parking just 2 km further, from where we will start a hike the next day. (43.274372, -5.994281)

Parking in front of Las Xanas gorge

We hiked up the beautiful Desfiladero de Las Xanas until we reached the Eremita.
A “xana” is a character of Asturian mythology, a female creature of extraordinary beauty believed to live in fountains, rivers, waterfalls or forested regions with pure water.
For the way back we found a different route (Senda de Valdolayés) over a pass with a small village and down to the parking  – Info Desfiladero de Las Xanas

Desfiladero de Las Xanas
Desfiladero de Las Xanas
Desfiladero de Las Xanas
Desfiladero de Las Xanas
At the Eremita
After returning from this great hike, we finally headed to Oviedo!
We first drove into town, but didn’t find a parking spot near the centre, so we chose the official caravan parking on the outskirts. (43.3827 , -5.8239)
 From there, we returned into town with the bus No 2, which stopped just around the corner from the parking.
We got out at the big and beautiful park Campo de San Francisco at the end of Calle Uria – the shopping street of Oviedo. On the corner of the park we found a tourist information and got a map and information on opening hours. We first strolled around in the area of the market hall before we found a restaurant just in front of the cathedral for lunch.
La Regenta in front of the cathedral
With new energy we visited the cathedral with an audio guide in hand, including the Cámara Santa, which contains many relics, mostly brought here in the 9th century to avoid them falling into the hands of the Arabs, including the cross of Pelayo. The attached cloister is a jewel of Spanish Gothic art.
Catedral de San Salvador
Cruz de la Victoria
Afterwards we walked through the area around Calle Uria and went to a famous pastry shop for something sweet before we hopped on the bus again to get back. Very convenient, next to the caravan parking we spotted a supermarket and a post office.
In gereral, we found Oviedo a very well maintained, beautiful city. Even the apartment blocks in the outskirts looked nice and had a lot of green space around. We really liked Oviedo.
Even as it was getting late, we stopped at the parking for the Pre-Romanesque Buildings at Monte Naranco (43.3766 , -5.8665) and walked up to the former Belvedere and the remains of the church above. We were impressed by their beauty.
Santa Maria del Naranco
Santa Maria del Naranco
San Miguel de Lillo
For the night we drove further up Monte Naranco until we reached the top, where we had a good view over Oviedo and the surroundings. We enjoyed the sunset at the foot of Jesus.
Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sundowner Monte Naranco

As it didn’t stop being busy up there, we drove down just some meters to the next parking where we had a quite night. (43.384340, -5.856768)

The next day, we went to visit the two churches on a guided tour which shouldn’t be missed as the inside is even more incredible.
Santa Maria del Naranco
Santa Maria del Naranco
Santa Maria del Naranco
Santa Maria del Naranco
Santa Maria del Naranco
San Miguel de Lillo
In San Miguel de Lillo there are still parts of the original mural paintings preserved. The most part of the original church was destroyed by a mudflow and not all of the remains are of the Pre-Romanesque era, nevertheless ……
There was one church more in Oviedo on our must see list: San Juan de los Prados. We managed to find a parking at a nearby shopping center, as there was non close to the church, and got there just in time for the last tour before lunch break. (43.384340, -5.856768)
San Juan de los Prados was the largest Christian construction in Spain up until the 11th century. Most of the mural paintings are preserved and packed with geometrical symbols and figures in a wide variety of colours. We were truly impressed by it.
San Juan de los Prados
We left Oviedo to get on the way back home, but there was just one more Pre-Romanesque church we had to see: Santa Cristina de Lena. It’s located not far from the highway to Leon, near Pola de Lena. (43.127724, -5.807403)
Santa Cristina de Lena
Santa Cristina de Lena
The last days of our trip home to Javea comes next..

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