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Gijón’s Universidad Laboral

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The largest building in Spain is found in Gijón. About three miles outside the city center, the massive Universidad Laboral gobbles up 66 acres of land. Built between 1946 and 1956, the Laboral is an astounding memorial to the grandiloquence and megalomania of the Franco era.

Universidad Laboral

The Laboral was originally designed to be an orphanage for the children of miners. But during construction, they adapted its purpose to that of a Technical College (“screw the brats!”). Luis Moya, the lead architect, envisioned the Laboral as a Utopian, fully enclosed and self-sustaining city, with its own “Plaza Mayor”, church and theater, and even a farm.

For generations, the university was one of Spain’s largest, churning out legions of highly-skilled craftsmen. No one can complain about that, but the building itself has always been highly contentious, with many viewing the Francoist monolith as an embarrassing blight on the edge of Gijón. That disdain worsened in the 1980s, when the university closed up and the Laboral fell into an awful state of disrepair. But the Asturian government came to the rescue in 2001, initiating reforms that have today converted the Laboral into a multi-use complex, with art exhibits, tours, theater and music, and educative functions.

There’s something haunting about large structures, and since we visited on a quiet, drizzly Sunday afternoon, the eerie sense of desolation was emphasized. As we wandered the deserted halls, I kept expecting to hear shrieks from forgotten laboratories behind shuttered doors, or be attacked by a disfigured hunchback hiding around a darkened corner. If it wanted to, the Laboral could host the greatest haunted house of all time.

Besides our trip up the tower, we visited an awesome temporary art exhibit in the old university kitchens, and got a drink at the cafe overlooking a large pool, but soon ran out of things to do. I’d recommend calling ahead and making sure to visit while guided tours are going on. In any case, the building is outrageous, and well worth seeing if you’re in Gijón.

Location on our Asturias Map
Official Website (English)

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September 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm Comments (2)

Hotels in Asturias

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We’re starting a small series recommending hotels we’ve noticed during our travels in Asturias. These will be quick little posts linking to the hotels, and information on the cities in which they’re located.

And if you have a good hotel recommendation for us, let us know!

Blue Santa Rosa in Gijón

In the center of Gijon, near the harbor, beach and other touristic main attractions. And if blue’s your favorite color, this hotel is definitely for you.

More Info & Reservations: Hotel Blue Santa Rosa in Gijón
Our visit to: Gijón
Location on our Asturias Accommodation Map

La Casona de Pío in Cudillero

Cudillero, a dreamy little fishing town on the Cantabrian Sea, is well worth a visit and makes a great base for other excursions in the surrounding area. La Casona de Pio offers great views and a traditional rustic Spanish ambient.

More Info & Reservations: La Casona de Pío in Cudillero
Our Visit to: Cudillero
Location on our Asturias Accommodation Map

AC Forum Hotel in Oviedo

The AC Forum has probably the best location of all the hotels in Oviedo, if you’re planning on frequent day trips: both the train and bus stations are just a few meters from its doors. Plus, you’re near the center of Oviedo, just a 10 minute walk from the cathedral.

More Info & Reservations: AC Forum Hotel in Oviedo
City Index: Oviedo
Location on our Asturias Accommodation Map

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September 18, 2010 at 11:11 am Comments (6)

Day Trip to Gijón

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Are you looking for a Hotel in Gijón?

Everything I’d read about Gijón, the largest city in Asturias, described it as “industrial” or “working-class”, so we arrived fearing that it’d be boring. But we needn’t have worried: Gijón is beautiful, full of students, lively bars and charming plazas. We spent the day walking around the old town center, the Cimavilla, admiriing monuments, plazas and incredible old buildings. The weather was great and the streets were full with young people sitting on whatever piece of stone was available.

Playa San Lorenzo

In the middle of the city is the beach of San Lorenzo, which stretches along the coast for over a kilometer. Though a lot of people were swimming, I wasn’t about to join in after experiencing the ice cold water at the Playa del Silencio. We also walked around the docks on the other side of Cimavilla and grabbed a bottle of cider in one of the city’s many sidrerías.

Gijón is much bigger than Oviedo, and the few hours we spent there during our first visit weren’t nearly enough to conduct a thorough exploration of its streets. No bother. It’s just 30 minutes by train from Oviedo, and we returned often. This is the kind of city which needs to be discovered slowly. On subsequent visits, we discovered the Park of Santa Catalina, a beautiful green area at the top of the city with a famous sculpture called “Elogio del Horizonte”, and the Termas Romanas, Thermal Baths built in the 1st Century by the Romans.

Location on our Asturias Map

Lady Stoner
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Calle Leon Gijon
Passaje Gijon
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Bar Carmen Gijon
Jesus on a Roof
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Beach San Lorenzo
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Castle on the beach
Asturian Mansion
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Sac Player Asturias

Visit the Alhambra in Granada

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August 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm Comments (13)
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