Historic Gijon, the old town (Cimadevilla)
The old quarter of Gijon is actually quite small and is found in an area known as Cimadevilla (the old fishing village) close to the port. Gijon certainly has a number of historic and interesting buildings, but some of these are spread beyond what was the original old town and this results in the main historic district being quite confined.
The old town of Gijon is built into and around the east wall of the port and part of the district is inclined up a slope that has a large park and great sea views at its pinnacle.
The buildings overlooking the seafront and marina comprise the most imposing part of the old town. This area is dominated by the fortified “Revillagigedo” palace and a large statue within a fountain that stands before it.
The Revillagigedo building dates from the seventeenth century, a period that saw an expansion of Gijon, the city's first Royal patronage, and the building of a number of near palatial structures. Other buildings constructed during this time include the Valdes Palace and the Ramirez de Jove Palace. All represented Gijon's promotion and new status as one of the country's leading ports and cities.
The design of the Revillagigedo Palace makes it evident that during this period in the city's history the threat of attack from the sea was always a possibility. The building has two large “wings” and looks deliberately impenetrable. Like most of Gijon's older buildings it is constructed of stone.
At one time the old quarter was enclosed within a protective city wall, but today the only remaining evidence of this are some ruins at the end of the headland. There are also some old cannons at this point and many choose to use it as a photo opportunity.
Exploring the old town
Once in the vicinity of the Revillagigedo Palace, the old town of Cimadevilla spreads seaward along the bay and also back towards the Iglesia de San Pedro church (on the opposite side of this outcrop of land).
At this point the headland on which the old town originally stood is very narrow and, on reaching the Pedro church, the ocean and beach of San Lorenzo become visible – but on the opposite side of this headland to the marina.
How the old quarter is explored is open to choice, but a walk along the promenade (facing the marina) takes any visitor past a number of the old town's fishing houses. From here there is a flight of stone stairs that leads to a street that runs parallel with and above the promenade leading back to the Revillagigedo Palace. This route covers most of the old quarter around the marina although the sights are quite limited.
Facing the marina
Without doubt the most imposing part of Gijon is the area and buildings facing the marina, but by walking beyond these buildings and through some large stone archways a further part of the old town is reached.
Set to the opposite side of the outcrop of land that was once the original town, this short route takes you past some Roman Baths (Termas Romans de Campo Valdes) and towards the San Pedro church.
Again there is no overwhelming display of medieval or Gothic architecture, but there are some structures of note including the Casa Consistorial (Town Hall), the “Antigua Pescaderia Municipal” and the “San Lorenzo chapel” connected to the tower of “Jove Hevia”.
It is also at this point that the city's main beach, la playa de San Lorenzo, first becomes visible. Overlooked by a number of hotels, many that were formerly small manor houses, this is one of the best beaches in Asturias.
It would be a lie to describe Gijon's old town as one of the best in Asturias. It is smaller than those of Oviedo and Aviles, but it still has its own charm. It also has the benefit of a coastal location that, if you walk from the Revillagigedo palace and around the headland to the Pedro church, provides you with great views and some mild exercise.
The old quarter is also right next to both the marina and the new town, placing everything that you want to see in the city right at your finger tips. Beyond the historic district there are further interesting sights including the “Centro de Culture Antiguo Instituto” building and a number of civic structures.
Above and to the left is a photo of "San Pedro" church which lies close to the narrow neck of Gijon when looked at using the map below.
City map of Gijon old town
The map to the right has been copied from a free tourist leaflet and shows the "Cimadevilla" (old fishing village) as the headland at the top of the image.
The marina lies to the left, the park is at the top and most of the old quarter is situated in the headland, or the narrow neck that leads to it. The large beach of San Lorenzo is to the right.