The old town of Oviedo
Despite Oviedo's size and economic prosperity, it is the old quarter of the original town that remains the keystone of the city with some of its structures dating back to the beginnings of the original settlement.
This is an historic quarter that has being carefully and painstakingly restored and one in which any visitor can easily picture things as they must have looked hundreds of years ago.
Because of the limited number of changes to which the old town has been subjected, it remains small and compact with the cathedral at its heart and a small number of streets running south from, and parallel to, it.
The cathedral has a tall single spire which makes it visible from most parts of the historic district and it sits in its own large square called the Plaza de la Catedral. This square also contains three other important buildings in the form of the Palacio de Camosagrado, the Balesquida Chapel and the Palacio Valdecarzana. All are typical of the civic architectural style found in the city and all are constructed of a yellow stone with red roof tiles, small windows and smart cast iron balconies. Along with the cathedral they help to enclose this large courtyard which is always busy with a mixture of sightseers and local business people.
As a tourist to Oviedo, the cathedral is one of the last buildings that you will visit as you will probably approach the old quarter from the south and make your way north towards it. On route you will be treated to all that the old town has to offer and you will also have the opportunity to call in at one of the cities tourist offices where maps and tourism guides are readily available.
Getting around the old town of Oviedo
The street layout of medieval Oviedo is easy to follow and comprises a mini grid with three main walkways all taking you roughly in the direction of the cathedral.
These streets are then interconnected by secondary passages that make finding your way around this area quick and easy.
Nearly all the streets are cobbled, amny lead on to courtyards and all have pedestrian only access.
Notable features of the old district include an arch under which you pass as you walk beneath the town hall and the numerous plazas that suddenly open up before you as one street collides with another.
The architecture is variable and includes many grandiose stone buildings,
but also a number of more delicate structures with glass enclosed balconies projecting out above the streets below. Oviedo is always interesting and continually throws up a surprise view, or a building that you did not expect to see in that particular spot.
As you explore the medieval parts of Oviedo and are bombarded with its many old and often historically important buildings, it is easy to forget that the general layout of the town (and indeed a number of its buildings) have remained unchanged for centuries. Many of the building's facades have large coats of arms emboss up on them and a number date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is also poignant to remember that the same paths and streets on which a tourist walks today were also tread by the town's people and visiting merchants over eight hundred years earlier.
There is a near limitless catalog of aesthetically pleasing buildings in Oviedo, but those highlighted as being of special tourist interest include, the Campoamor Theatre (outside the medieval quarter) the San Pelayo Monastery, the Town Hall, the stunning Church of San Isidoro, the Junta General del Principado (parliament building), the church of Santa Maria la Real de la Corte, along with a collection of former manor houses, a music conservatory and a museum.
You will also find a number of beautiful plazas, a spectacular market and a variety of statues and monuments.
You can read about and see more of some of these buildings by using the Oviedo menu box at the top right of this page and clicking on the links to "Buildings and plazas" or "Oviedo cathedral".