Theme Week Asturias – Oviedo

Saturday, 30 January 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  12 minutes

Parliament building of the Principality of Asturias © flickr.com - vicenmiranda/cc-by-2.0

Parliament building of the Principality of Asturias © flickr.com – vicenmiranda/cc-by-2.0

Oviedo (Asturian: Uviéu) is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain and the administrative and commercial centre of the region. It is also the name of the municipality that contains the city. Oviedo is located approximately 24 ;km (15 mi) southwest of Gijón and 23 km (14 mi) south of Avilés, both of which lie on the shoreline of the Bay of Biscay. Oviedo’s proximity to the ocean of less than 30 kilometres (19 mi) in combination with its elevated position with areas of the city more than 300 metres above sea level causes the city to have a maritime climate, in spite of it not being located on the shoreline itself.

Oviedo is located in the centre of Asturias between the Nalón River and Nora River. To the north lie Las Regueras and Llanera, to the south Mieres and Ribera de Arriba, to the east Siero and Langreo, and to the west Grado and Santo Adriano. The altitude of Oviedo is between 80 and 709 metres above sea level. The city is protected against strong winds by Monte Naranco in the north and the Sierra del Aramo in the south. The city centre is rather hilly. The economy is strongly dependent on the service sector, with many office buildings in the city centre. Oviedo’s status as the administrative centre of the region supports a large number of jobs in public administration. The manufacturing sector, which remains important in this part of Spain, is not prevalent in Oviedo itself, but is more important in the adjacent municipalities of Siero and Llanera which lie to the north of the city, between Oviedo and Gijon.

Oviedo contains a very rich architectural history, with many buildings dating back to the early medieval period. Many of the building projects were undertaken during Alfonso II‘s (791-842) reign and Ramiro I‘s (842-850) reign. Alfonso III‘s contributions are not as well documented. Alfonso II is said to have built four churches, one dedicated to Christ the Saviour, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Tyrsus, and SS Julian and Basilissa. There are few traces of the churches dedicated to the Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and St. Tyrsus. The San Salvador church, which was dedicated to the Saviour, is likely beneath the Cathedral of Oviedo. The church of Santa Maria de la Corte, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was demolished in 1702. As for St. Tyrsus, the church dedicated to him exists today as the church of San Tirso. Only a wall and a three light window are believed to have been built by Alfonso II, the majority of the rest of the church is dated to the 14th century. The best preserved church constructed during Alfonso II’s time was San Julian de los Prados. Two buildings are said to have been built during Ramiro I’s reign, one was a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the other construction was a palace. These were built just outside Oviedo, on Monte Lignum. The church Santa Maria de Naranco seems to originally have been a palace, but later repurposed into a church. The church has an atypical plan from other churches at its time, possibly because it was supposed to contain a throne room for the king. The other church built during Ramiro I’s time was San Miguel de Lillo. The Chronicle of Albelda, one of the primary sources used to discern which King commissioned which building, only extends to 883. Because of this, constructions undertaken during Alfonso III’s time as king were not documented.

Fine Arts Museum of Asturias © Sergio.solar/cc-by-sa-3.0 Parliament building of the Principality of Asturias © flickr.com - vicenmiranda/cc-by-2.0 Plaza del Fontán © Valencian/cc-by-sa-4.0 Oviedo Cathedral © D.Rovchak/cc-by-sa-4.0 Building at Plaza de La Escandalera © Dantadd City Hall © AsturiasVerde
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Parliament building of the Principality of Asturias © flickr.com - vicenmiranda/cc-by-2.0
The following is a list of the notable architectural sites in Oviedo:

  • Cathedral of San Salvador, was erected in 1388 over the previous cathedral, which was founded in the 8th century. The original church was built by Fruela I the Cruel (757), and then built upon by Alfonso II (791-842). The Tower on the south side of the church was erected in 1556. The north tower was never completed.
  • Cámara Santa de Oviedo. Dating from 802. It is located within the Cathedral, attached to the southern transept of the cathedral, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Houses the Arca Santa chest reliquary of the Sudarium of Oviedo. The Cámara Sancta houses many Christian treasures. It contained the great gold and jeweled cross of victory for Alfonso III, which was made for housing a wooden cross used by the first Asturian king, Pelayo. The wooden cross was supposedly used in the Asturian victory at the battle of the Covadonga in 718. The Arca Sancta itself, which is covered with decorated silver plates, was commissioned by Alfonso VI (1072–1109)
  • Santa María del Naranco Hall, 9th century. A relatively large pavilion, part of a palace complex built for the King Ramiro I.
  • San Miguel de Lillo (small church), 9th century.
  • Basilica of San Julián de los Prados. This church was originally constructed by Alfonso II (791-842), and is one of the best preserved Asturian churches. The church features a fresco decoration style. Although it was reported to have been placed near a palace, no trace of such palace has been found. Ideologically it would appear that church was opposed to religious imagery, which seems to parallel the iconoclast movement in the Byzantine Empire. However, there was no documentation of this ideal circulating in Spain at this point in time, so the Asturian stance on iconoclasm should not be inferred from this fact.
  • La Foncalada. Fountain of the 9th century. It is the only preserved Pre-Romanesque civil work in the whole of Europe.
  • The University of Oviedo was created in 1574, but only inaugurated on September 21, 1608, the feast of Saint Matthew. It was funded by the terms of the will of Archbishop D. Fernando Valdés Salas, minister and General Inquisitor under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Philip II.
  • Town Hall (Casa Consistorial). Dates from 1662.
  • La Balesquida Chapel (13th century). Associated with Oviedo’s taylors’ guild. Repeatedly restored in the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. It is dedicated to the Virgin of Hope.
  • House of the Llanes (18th century). It is the best Baroque façade in the whole of Asturias.
  • Deán Payarinos’ House (20th century). A building on the Beaux Arts style. Nowadays, it houses the Eduardo Martínez Torner Conservatory.
  • The Monastery of San Vicente (8th century). At the moment, home of the Archaeological Museum of Asturias.
  • The Convent Church of Santo Domingo, Oviedo (16th century). One of the monastic settlements outside the city walls. The original building burnt down in 1934 and it was heavily reconstructed after the Civil War.
  • El Fontán Market (17th-18th centuries). A simple but rather monumental complex; an 18th-century porticoed square, which housed the vegetable market. It fell victim to speculative manoeuvres. It was left to deteriorate on its own; claiming that it was beyond repair, it was then demolished on 1998 and rebuilt offering all modern amenities, but with its original proportions radically changed; the original complex being much lower than its modern replacement.
  • Casas del Cuitu, early 20th century Art Nouveau apartment building.
  • Palacio de Congresos de Oviedo< projected by Santiago Calatrava.
  • Church of San Tirso, or the Church of Saint Thyrsus, is located south west of the main cathedral. Only the east end of the church can trace its roots to Alfonso II’s reign, with the rest of the church created during the 14th century. The triple arcaded window and east wall are the only portions of the church made during early 9th century.
  • Camposagrado Palace built in 1728 and 1744 combining baroque and neo-classical architectures. It is presently the home of the Regional Court of Asturias.

Oviedo inspired the fictional city of Vetusta in Leopoldo Alas‘s La Regenta. Other Spanish writers were inspired by the city, including Ramón Pérez de Ayala in Tigre Juan and Dolores Medio in her novel Nosotros los Rivero. Oviedo was featured prominently in Woody Allen‘s movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Among the museums in Oviedo are:

Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias is the premier orchestra of the region, the Principality of Asturias. This full-time symphony orchestra performs a wide range of the classical repertoire with world class soloists and conductors. It is based in the Auditorio Principe Felipe in Oviedo, but it also performs regularly at the main concert venues in Gijón and Avilés. It is Internationally recognized as one of the best orchestras in Spain, it is also committed to adventurous programing with strong emphasis on education and community partnerships. Oviedo also hosts the annual Princess of Asturias Awards (previously called the Prince of Asturias Awards). This prestigious event, held in the city’s Campoamor Theatre, recognizes international achievement in eight different categories. Previous award winners include Oscar Niemeyer, Bob Dylan and Francis Ford Coppola in the category of Arts; Nelson Mandela, the International Space Station and Al Gore in the category of International Cooperation; and Mario Bunge, CNN and Quino in the category of Communications and Humanities. Oviedo University‘s international campus attracts many foreign scholars from all over the globe. The city lends its name to the sudarium of Oviedo a religious relic revered there since the 9th century.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Oviedo, TurismoAsturias.es – Oviedo, Spain.info – Oviedo, LonelyPlanet.com – Oviedo, Wikivoyage Oviedo and Wikipedia Oviedo. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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