PongaThe concejo (council) of Ponga, south-west of the Picos de Europa nationwide park, is a protected pure space lately singled out for biosphere reserve standing by Unesco for its beautiful panorama and engaging rural traditions. Lovers of untamed nature are drawn right here by the beech woods of Peloño, the mountain peaks of Tiatordos and Pierzu, and the river gorges of Viboli – considered one of Spain’s high spots for canyoning. Connoisseurs of rural life, in the meantime, head for off-piste villages like fairly Sobrefoz, or try the Ecomuseum in San Juan de Beleño, Ponga’s diminutive capital. No matter you’re into, Ponga is quintessential Asturias.
Pre-Romanesque structure in Oviedo
Oviedo – or within the native parlance, Uviéu – is the capital of Asturias, and harbours a few of Spain’s most venerable buildings, together with the magical Cámara Santa (holy chamber), a part of Oviedo cathedral, and San Julián de los Prados, a tiny church courting from the eighth century whose richly colored inside reminds you what a debt Christianity owes to the Orient. The triple arches of Santa María del Naranco, a pre-Romanesque masterpiece set in inexperienced pastures above the town, have turn out to be an emblem of Asturian historical past and tradition. Chapel, palace, looking lodge, or pleasure-dome? Santa Maria was constructed for King Ramiro I within the mid-Ninth century, however the true function of this enigmatic constructing might by no means be identified.
The faba is a sort of enormous white bean indigenous to Asturias and symbolic of the area’s honest-to-goodness, flavour-packed delicacies. A standard sight in vegetable gardens, the place the vegetation climb on poles, these massive beans are the principle ingredient of a potent stew with morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo and smoked bacon: the fabada asturiana. Across the dish bubbles a wealthy native tradition of anecdote and fable, principally based mostly round its (in)digestibility. Discovering fabada is not any drawback – you’ll see it on menus in all places – however Casa Gerardo in Prendes and Casa Marcial in Parres, two of the area’s finest eating places, supply beautiful up to date variations.
Desfiladero del Rio Cares
Hikers and trekkers are spoiled for alternative within the principality, however here’s a sure-fire spotlight. This straightforward seven-mile stroll follows the Cares River down a dramatic mountain gorge. The route begins at Poncebos and ends within the village of Caín – which for hundreds of years was largely reduce off from the skin world. The Cares gorge itself is a dark canyon with a strolling path carved out of the rock face. From under comes the muffled thunder of the river, whereas far above the cliffs may be glimpsed the glowing summits of the Picos de Europa.
Playa de Torimbia
Asturian seashores generally function on lists of Spain’s most excellent playas. There’s Barayo, as an illustration, a pristine coastal valley the place a river reaches the ocean in an impressive arc of sand; and Playa del Silencio, aptly named, with dramatic rock formations encircling a lonely seaside. Loveliest of all is definitely Torimbia (close to the village of Llanes), a curving bay of superb golden sand, unspoilt and sublimely lovely. Like lots of the world’s finest seashores, this one can solely be reached on foot (it’s a straightforward 15-minute stroll down). Carry no matter you want, however you may not must have garments or swimmers in your checklist – naturists in addition to nature-lovers are welcome right here.
Apple orchards change vineyards on this temperate northern area, the place the drink of alternative shouldn’t be wine, however cider. Right here it’s served escanciada: the barman pours the cider from head top or greater right into a glass held on the waist, oxygenating the drink for a kick of freshness that Asturians love. (The sidra is downed in a single, however somewhat is at all times left on the backside of the glass, customized dictating that this have to be thrown out on to the ground.) Sidrerías are basic native establishments serving bottles of recent cider together with plates of fried monkfish, smoked chorizo, and slabs of scrumptious native cheese.
Parador de CoriasAn 11th-century monastery among the many woodlands and rivers of Asturias’ deep south homes, this resort is a current addition to the state-run Parador chain. The constructing is a lofty expression of regional artwork and tradition – particularly the monastery church, which comprises the austerely lovely 12th-century Cristo de la Cantonada, a long-haired and gold-crowned determine of Christ. The Parador additionally brings you up shut with considered one of Spain’s most astounding landscapes: the astonishingly verdant Muniellos, residence to Europe’s largest extension of virgin oak forest.
Niemeyer in Avilés
The town of Avilés was as soon as an industrial powerhouse: then got here air pollution and post-industrial neglect. Now, a futuristic cultural centre designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, which opened in 2011, alerts the immense optimistic adjustments which have come to the town. A collection of curvaceous white types contains an auditorium for open-air live shows, a viewing tower with a spiral staircase and a spectacular domed exhibition house – all organized round a central plaza that the good Brazilian (103 on the time) described as “a spot for cohabitation, training, tradition and peace”. Niemeyer has completed for Avilés what Guggenheim did for Bilbao.
Blessed with wealthy pastures and a temperate local weather, Asturias is a wealthy hunting-ground for cheese-freaks. With an estimated 40 differing kinds produced inside its borders, three of which have Denominación de Origen Protegida standing, few locations on the planet can boast such quite a lot of cheeses over such a modest geographical space. Deep-flavoured cabrales is up there with roquefort and stilton as one of many world’s nice blue cheeses. It packs a strong punch, and infrequently advantages from draught of sidra to melt its piquant aftertaste. You’ll discover this aromatic fromage everywhere in the area, however the city of Cabrales itself, among the many Picos de Europa mountains, has Asturias’ largest focus of artisan cheesemakers.
Ever because the 1960s when surf tradition kicked off within the area, Asturias has been a world draw for riders of huge Atlantic waves. There are all-year-round scenes at prime surf-sites like Rodiles (in Villaviciosa), Santa Marina (Ribadesella) and the attractive swathe of untamed seaside that’s Peñarronda (Castropol). Playa de la Grande, in Tapia de Casariego on the area’s western finish, typically hosts European browsing championships. In the meantime San Lorenzo, within the surf-mad coastal metropolis of Gijón (or Xixón in Asturian), is an effective alternative for newbies because of its dependable breakers, nice services, and “surf camps” similar to Siroko, 10 minutes from the seaside.
Tempted to embark by yourself Asturian cheese, surf and cider odyssey? Go to Turismo Asturias