Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
Oviedo is the capital city of Asturias and also of the principality in which it lies. It acts as the governmental and administrative hub of the region and has a cathedral, a university and an historic district in its old town. Along with Aviles, Oviedo is a city that we would recommend any tourist to visit whilst in Asturias.
Geographically Oviedo has a central location in the region and is found mid way on both the "east to west" and "north to south" compass lines. It is Asturias' only major inland city and is easily accessible by motorway from the region's other towns and the neighbouring autonomous communities of Galicia and the Basque Country.
Oviedo has a population of approximately 200, 000 inhabitants and is of major economic value to not just the region, but the whole of Spain.
Initial impressions of Oviedo
As you approach Oviedo you are immediately aware of its industrial significance as you see plumes of smoke rising from the coal and steel plants on the outskirts of the city.
This should not however be a cause for alarm as the industrial areas are actually several kilometers away from Oviedo itself and the city is smart and clean.
Once in Oviedo there is much to see and do and the city has the mountain ranges of the Monte Naranco and the Picos de Europa within easy traveling distance. The inner town area also boasts a large park, an extensive museum and plenty of shopping in and around the old quarter.
Despite the initial misleading and somewhat industrial appearance of Oviedo, once in the heart of the town you discover a wealth of history and architecture in a beautifully maintained old quarter. The star is the cathedral, which is tall and elegant and occupies one end of a large square, but there are many other buildings to rival it. There is also a bustling market, numerous cafes and some tourist points offering masses of information about the town in English (and also French and German).
The obvious tourist appeal of Oviedo is its old quarter, but no visitor should leave this city without first venturing into its newer districts. Oviedo is largely pedestrianised and offers excellent shopping and eating in a city designed for people rather than cars.
A taste of Oviedo
Finding things to see and do in Oviedo is never a problem. The areas around the city's cathedral contain many interesting streets, buildings and plazas and one street in particular is full of unique bars called "sidrerias". These siderias are famed in Asturias for a special kind of still cider (sidra) and at night they become busy and highly atmospheric. A "real" sidreria will have wooden floor beams and the sidra will be poured into the glass from a great height with the glass angled towards the horizontal. Much of the sidra is spilt during this decanting process. The correct way to drink this beverage is in one continuous swallow immediately after is has been dispensed.
For a more leisurely and less alcoholic gastronomic experience of Oviedo, a morning visit to a churreria will provide you with an unusual breakfast.
These cafés specialise in serving doughnut like strips of sponge piping hot straight from a large circular pan. You eat them whilst hot, sprinkled with sugar and traditionally dipped in a thick hot chocolate drink. These churrerias can be found throughout Oviedo and are a must for chocoholics and those with a sweet tooth.
When it comes to nightlife Oviedo is far from quiet. In addition to its sidrerias it has many bars and clubs, plus a large theatre. It is also a real city that is not dependant upon tourism and it retains its atmosphere and activity level all year round. For most tourists a walk around the old town, something to eat and the experience of sidra makes a good night time experience and this usually extends well into the early hours.
In keeping with its status as a capital city, Oviedo has a lot to offer and, aside from galleries and museums, one of its more discerning attractions is the wine route known as "la ruta de los vinos".
There is also a big festival in September (around 21st) with the usual music, dancing and special events that the Spanish always use to celebrate these important dates on the calendar – only with an Asturian twist.
To see and read more about Oviedo, use the links in the menu box at the top right of this page. There you can find out about the old town, the cathedral, the city's history and much more.