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Covadonga – The Spiritual Capital of Asturias

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Oviedo may be the political center of the Principality of Asturias, but Covadonga is its spiritual heart. This mountain sanctuary near Cangas de Onís is where King Pelayo led a ragtag bunch of Christians to victory over a much larger Muslim force in the 8th century. It was Christianity’s first triumph since the Moorish conquest of Iberia, and marked the beginning of the 800-year Reconquista.

covadonga asturias

The Catholic church wasted no time in claiming Covadonga as its own, and declared the area a religious mega-site. You see, Pelayo’s men didn’t just use the mountainous terrain and their knowledge of it to turn back the Moors, the Holy Virgin of Covadonga assisted them.

Visiting is an odd experience. The grotto of Covadonga is undeniably beautiful, and does have a magical feeling about it. Supposedly, it rests on a ley line. But it’s also a solemn, strange Catholic Disneyland. Step right up kids, and see Pelayo’s final resting place! No talking please, this is a church. And now right over here, folks, we have the Fountain of Marriage! That’s correct, ladies, one drink from this enchanted water and you’ll be at the alter in no time! Pictures are allowed here, since it’s just kinda holy.

Oooh, only brave souls this way! That’s right, we’re entering the Holy Cave! Please no horseplay, kids, this is a holy cave, after all. And who’s this lovely lady, to your right? Why it’s our friend, the Virgin of Covadonga. NO PICTURES! She is most sacred! But if you’ll follow me right this way, we’ll enter the gift shop where you can buy pictures of La Santina and all manner of fabulous religious paraphernalia!

If you’re Catholic or superstitious or new-agey or into kitsch, you’re going to love Covadonga. But for cynics like myself and Juergen, it was a little much. The Basilica is gorgeous, set against the mountains, and it was fun to walk around a bit. There’s also museum on the grounds, which wasn’t very interesting; instead of history, I got artless portraits of archbishops and their robes.

But no trip to Asturias is complete without visiting Covadonga. Regardless of your views on religion and spirituality, it’s a haunting and interesting place.

Visit the Lakes of Covadonga

Covadonga Bell
Cruzes Covadonga
Covadonga Shrine
Covadonga Chapel
Virgin Covadonga
Cueva Silencia
Wedding Fountain
Covadonga Snake
Pelayo
Pelayo Perro
Covadonga
Lost in Covadonga
Organ Covadonga
Cruz Asturias
Beichtstuhl
My Covadonga
Covadonga Car Hire
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October 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm Comments (0)

The Ruta del Cares: Seven-Hour Megahike

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Looking for a Hotel in the Picos de Europa?

The Picos de Europa are a huge mountain range that straddles the border between Asturias, Cantabria and León, just twenty kilometers from the ocean, and a paradise for mountain climbers, nature lovers and hikers.

Sun Hike

Juergen and I fall into that latter group for sure, so we embarked on the most famous hike through the Picos: The Ruta del Cares. Connecting the tiny villages of Poncebos and Caín, it’s a 24km, seven-hour roundtrip hike. That’s a lot, but the seven hours are packed with breathtaking nature, and fairly easy.

The river Cares has carved an immense and exhilaratingly narrow canyon into the Picos. The route travels alongside the river, high up into the mountains, through tunnels and along cliff faces. It was developed in the early 20th century for workers of the Electra de Viesgo company, who needed to reach the canal which still runs between the two villages. The hike has since become incredibly popular, and welcomes over 200,000 adventurers a year.

The Ruta del Cares starts with a long ascent, and before long we were high above the river. It leveled out from there, as we entered the canyon. I experienced some mild vertigo. In such a narrow canyon gap with sheer cliff faces towering high over your head and the river so far below, it’s easy to become disoriented.

There were long stretches through dark tunnels, over bridges high above the river, and we passed by a few waterfalls. By the time we reached Caín, we were exhausted but in great spirits. The first half of the hike had gone quickly by and, after a quick lunch, I didn’t dread the thought of returning the same way. The chance to see the canyon again was a powerful incentive.

If you’re fit enough and enjoy the outdoors, don’t miss this hike. But try and pick an off-season day during the week, as the route is truly popular and, on summer weekends, the number of people can be overwhelming.

Location of Poncebos (Start)
Plan of the Hike in Wikiloc
Detailed Info in Spanish on the Hike

Mist Land
Rio Asturias
Rio Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa Hike
Ruta del Cares
No Bikers Allowed
Dizzy
Dangerous Hike
Gefahr Wandern
Hiking Routes Picos
Fall Asturias
Exciting Hike
China in Spain
Hiking
Tunnel Hiking Asturias
Welcome to Leon
Waterfall
Wandern Asturias
On Nom Nom
Wet Land
Wet
Splish Splash
Sidra IN leon
Wandern
Picos de Europa
Play of Light
Travel Stock Photographer

Asturias Guide

Hiking Insurance
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October 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm Comments (6)

Colombres and the Museum of Emigration

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Looking for a place to stay new Colombres?

At the end of the 19th century, Spain was mired in one of its darkest periods. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines were gone as a result of the Spanish-American War, and an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Morocco had left the country in a tailspin. Many escaped to the New World, where society was on the rise rather than in decline. This included a massive number of Asturians: mostly single, young and ambitious. They lent their enthusiasm to the growing countries of the Western Hemisphere, and made a fortune doing so.

Colombres Asturias

Many of these newly moneyed youngsters eventually returned home. Known as Indianos, they built fabulous homes and spent their wealth freely, at a time when the Principality desperately needed it. The mansions of the Indianos can be found all over Asturias, but no other town has such a remarkable collection as Colombres, near the border with Cantabria.

One house in Colombres stands out among the rest: the Quinta Guadalupe, constructed by Iñigo Noriega Laso, who emigrated to Mexico and became both extremely rich and politically influential. Today, his amazing mansion is the Museum of Emigration, dedicated to this interesting period in Asturian history. There are emotional photographs of emigrants leaving Spain, models of the boats on which they traveled, personal stories of adventure and danger, and information about the various Centros Asturianos which are still active in Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and the USA.

The museum is interesting, and it’s nice to be able to step inside such a house. Much of the original furniture is still present, and the library is full of tomes dedicated to the immigrant experience. If you’re in the area, definitely stop by.

Location of Colombres on our Day Trips Map

Magnolia Sprout
Water Drip
Bizarre Garden
Quinta Guadalupe
Mexico Asturias
Emmigration Museum
Museo Emmigracion
Detail Asturias
Muebles Asturias
emmigration asturias
Eduardo Urculo New York
Williams B. Arrensberg
Inka
Asturiano Dinero

Visit Stockholm

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October 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm Comment (1)

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