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The Plaza de España and Francisco Franco

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I love living in Spain for a lot of reasons: siestas, wine, crazy parties, friendly people, the beautiful language. Also, I’m fascinated by history, and Spain is full of it. The Spanish Civil War is of particular interest; the ultimate left-right clash, the workers against the privileged, the cohesion of the Francoists and the suicidal splintering of the liberals, the cowardice of the world’s democracies, the brutality shown by foreign fascist powers, the self-sacrifice of the International Brigades and of course the war’s terrible, soul-crushing end. In this movie, the bad guys won. It’s utterly captivating.

Francisco Franco

Years later, the wounds haven’t completely healed over; the war was too brutal, and the disastrous reign of Franco too long. In an attempt to finally help Spain reach a sense of closure, the government passed the Historical Memory Law in 2007, officially condemning the Fascist regime. It honors the victims on both sides of the war and grants honorary Spanish citizenship to all members of the International Brigade. But most tangibly, the law mandates the removal of all Francoist symbols and statues from public areas.

It appears that regal, conservative Oviedo didn’t get the memo. In the Plaza de España, one of the country’s last Francoist statues is still standing tall, looking over the Campo de San Francisco. It was erected to commemorate the Caudillo’s death. Franco’s face appears on a medallion on the statue’s base, below an inscription reading “From Oviedo to Francisco Franco”, while above, Hera the Greek Queen of the Gods, presides over the scene. Franco’s face has been the target of paint, graffiti and defamation over the years.

We never heard an official explanation as to why this statue which honors Spain’s most infamous ruler is still standing in the middle of the city. I’m not necessarily an advocate of the forced removal of such monuments, but Oviedo sure seems to be flaunting a national law, despite the pressure of groups dedicated to erasing the lingering memory of Franco.

Location of the Plaza de España on our Oviedo Map

Franco Oviedo
Delfín Oviedo
Franco Hate Spain
Hola Franco
October 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm Comments (4)

Oviedo’s Statues: Maternity

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Columbian artist Fernando Botero has an instantly recognizable style. Plumpness, I suppose it could be called. Plump animals, plump objects, plump prisoners and, above all, plump women.

Naked Oviedo

One of Oviedo’s best statues is Botero’s La Maternidad, found in the Plaza de la Escandalera. A woman, hugely fat but also strikingly beautiful, looks to the right while her happy, fat infant plays on her knee. The proportions of the woman’s body are wild, with massive legs and hips supporting a relatively lithe upper body. Her breasts are small and pert, and her hair tied back into a long ponytail.

Despite her obesity, the feeling conveyed is one of health, with its clearly loved and well-nourished infant. Maternity an exuberant celebration of life, paying tribute to the joys of motherhood, and there can be little wonder that it’s one of the most popular of Oviedo’s many statues.

Happy Baby Oviedo
Fernando-Boterol
Fernando-Botero-Oviedo

Book a Hotel in Oviedo

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Oviedo is bounded on the north by Mount Naranco, which stretches over five kilometers in length and reaches 634 meters in altitude. 634 meters? Pfah, that’s nothing… let’s climb it!

Jesus Sacred Heart Oviedo

And so we did. Starting from San Miguel de Lillo, a path winds up the mountain, through a forest and finishes at the top. It’s all uphill, but the path zigzags and isn’t too difficult. Unless, of course, you’re like us: stupid.

We thought we’d take a shortcut, since well-trodden trails are so boring. The little path shooting off through the shrubbery looked promising! Soon enough, the path disappeared but, clever as we are, we decided to push through the thicket anyway. Thorny branches were soon scraping our legs and arms to shreds. I clutzed through a spiderweb and, spotting its hairy owner crawling up my stomach, unleashed a deafening shriek of ladylike terror. Clever and masculine, yep that’s me.

Bloody and agitated, we eventually made it to the top, where we were greeted by a giant statue of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. With his arms open towards the city, Jesus seems to be embracing Oviedo, protecting it. Underneath the statue is a version of the famous Cruz de la Victoria, which features on the flag of Asturias.

Climbing the mountain was worth the effort for the incredible view over Oviedo and its valley. There’s no better place to get a sense for the layout, size and topography of the region. You can also drive up to the top of Mount Naranco, if you don’t feel like a hike. Either way, make sure to go on a sunny day; the panorama is unforgettable.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Bitchy Gease
Fairy Tale Asturias
Awesome Bug
Farn
Painful Hike
Oviedo Panorama
Sacrado Corazon Jesus Oviedo
Mountain Around Oviedo

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August 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm Comments (6)

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The Parc La Fontaine Located in the neighborhood of Plateau Mont-Royal, the Parc La Fontaine is a popular place for picnics, strolls, and laying out in the sun. This is among the city's largest parks, at 84 acres, and on summer weekends, you'll find nearly every square inch of it occupied.
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