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Benito Jerónimo Feijóo

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Though he was born in Galicia, Benito Jerónimo Feijóo spent the bulk of his life in Oviedo. One of Spain’s foremost enlightenment thinkers, the intellectual, religious and philosophical works of Feijóo had reverberations throughout the world. The Benedictine monk died in 1769 at the ripe old age of 89, and is buried in the Iglesia de Santa María de la Corte, near the plaza which bears his name.

Benito Jeronimo Feijoo

Don’t ask me how to pronounce Feijóo, because I have no idea. I’ve been saying it like “FIGH-jew”, which is probably way off.

Feijóo was a professor at the University of Oviedo, most well known for his ideas challenging superstition and folklore. He was skeptical of anything of an otherworldly nature, such as exorcisms. He famously “cured” one possessed soul by reading aloud a comical romantic farce in Latin. The afflicted man didn’t understand what was being said, but leaped from his bed upon hearing the Latin words, miraculously free of the devil.

Feijóo held radical ideas for his day. He was a proponent of enlightened thinking, and his teachings challenged the more orthodox Catholic practices. King Charles III studied his essays, and would work the ideas of Enlightened Absolutism into his rule, guaranteeing better freedoms for his subjects. Feijóo is also known to have written one of the world’s first feminist tracts: “La defensa de las mujeres“, where he bravely argues for the equality of the sexes.

During San Mateo, the Plaza de Feijóo plays host to raucous rock concerts; somehow, I think that he would have liked that.

Location of the Plaza de Feijóo

Feijoo
Feijoo Oviedo
3 D Cross
Santa Maria Oviedo

Castle Hotel Oviedo

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October 16, 2010 at 7:08 pm Comments (3)

The Miners’ Strike of 1934

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A couple years before the Spanish Civil War, a mini-revolution would rock Asturias and Oviedo. The Miners’ Strike of 1934, or the Revolución de Asturias, lasted just two weeks but resulted in a lot of carnage. It was one of the first indications that the bad blood between “The Two Spains” was about to boil over.

In 1933, Conservatives swept to power in national elections, freaking out the leftist parties: the Socialists, Communists, Anarchists and the labor unions. In response, a general strike was called across the country. Though it failed miserably in most of Spain due to poor organization and decisive police action against leaders, Asturians were determined to see it through. Workers from mining towns banded together and marched on Oviedo. They encountered little resistance, and captured almost all of Asturias in a short time.

The strike really was more of a revolution, if we can understand that to mean an armed group of discontents overthrowing a democratically elected government. The workers were strongly anticlerical, and over 30 priests were executed during the revolution’s course. The Cámara Santa was dynamited, and churches burnt to the ground.

The rebels weren’t able to long enjoy the fruits of their conquests, however. The national government soon sent in General Francisco Franco, who quickly quashed the revolt with his trademark brutality. 75,000 miners were arrested and 3000 killed in the fighting. Presaging the Civil War which would come a couple years later, in-fighting between the Communists and Socialists spelled doom for the leftists in Asturias against a more efficient, organized enemy.

Oviedo was devastated by the Miners’ Strike. The University building was badly damaged, with the irreplaceable loss of much of its library. The Cathedral and the center of city were heavily injured. Reconstruction would last years, right until the start of the Civil War, when the city was again almost destroyed.

Phew. I’m happy we live in happier times. There’s still quite a bit of tension here… the Church is much more political than I’m used to in the States, and strikes have a more aggressive tone… but generally Spain seems to have figured out how to get along with itself. And I think everyone can be relieved by that.

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October 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm Comments (5)

Inside the Cathedral of San Salvador

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As is the case in almost every Spanish city, Oviedo’s most impressive and important building is its cathedral. With a history stretching back to the 8th century, and an official name which takes nearly eight centuries to pronounce, the Santa Iglesia Basílica Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador de Oviedo is the must-see highlight during a visit to the city.

Cathedral Oviedo

The original Pre-Romanesque church was constructed in 876 AD by King Fruela I. Very little of that structure remains, and the cathedral of today is the product of centuries of additions and reconstructions; a mix of styles from the Romanesque, to the Baroque and Renaissance. But it’s mainly Gothic. With a long, 67-meter central nave, the adjoining Cámara Santa, patios, gardens and at least 17 chapels, the Cathedral is the massive stone heart of Oviedo; a mute witness to the city’s entire development.

There is a lot to see inside the cathedral. The central Gothic altarpiece, depicting a multitude of scenes from the life of the Savior, is considered one of the most important in Spain, alongside those of Seville and Granada. And for hundreds of years, pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago have venerated the Cathedral’s wooden statue of El Salvador, thought to be from the 13th century.

The most beautiful chapel in the church is the Capilla del Rey Casto, with an amazing Gothic portal and “Pantheon of Kings”, where the mortal remains of the “Chaste King” Alfonso II, along with numerous other rulers of Asturias, are kept. The ambulatory, a Baroque semi-circular passage around the main altar, consists of a number of private chapels, each dedicated to a different saint.

The Cathedral also contains the Cámara Santa: a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the sanctuary of the most important relics in Asturias. Additionally, the Gothic Cloister is an often overlooked section. We visited the cathedral multiple times during our stay, and always found something new to admire.

Organ Oviedo
Unesco Oviedo
Priest Preach
Rose Eye Oviedo
Tour Oviedo
Oviedo Cathredral
Ambulatory Oviedo
Gold Oviedo
Holy Gold
Altar Oviedo
Gothic Altar Piece Oviedo
Capilla del Rey Casto
Oviedo
Jesus Oviedo
Rey Casto Oviedo
Rey Casto Detail
Stuck Oviedo
ceiling rey casto
Key to Oviedo
Camino Santiago Oviedo
Listen To God

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October 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm Comments (4)

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