Asturias is a one province Autonomous Community.
For centuries the stronghold of the Christian kingdom that most actively battled the Moors to the South, Asturias, a mountainous Cantabrian region, is located between Cantabria to the East and Galicia to the West. It proudly preserves its ancient claim to the title designating it a principality.
Oviedo is the capital of the region. A beautiful city, its cathedral is a fine example of Late Gothic Style architecture, while tow small churches, Santa Maria del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, are the foremost examples of the magnificent Asturias pre-Romanesque art developed in the 9th century. You can find more information on Orviedo here.
Gijon owes its current importance to its great port, one of the largest on the Cantabrian coast. The city, which has an enormous beach, has sustained considerable growth but has also preserved its old fishermen's quarters.
The Asturian coast appears at the Tina Mayor estuary and a little farther on, in Pimiango, is the Cueva del Pindal (Cave), a prehistoric site set in a most magnificent surrounding. It faithfully marks the beginning of the lovely views which await the traveller from here all the way down to the other estuary of Ribadeo, which sets the limit for the Asturian coast. The national highway continues to Llanes, past beaches and cliffs on one side and the imposing silhouette of the Picos de Europa on the inland flank. Before reaching our destination, we should admire the idol of Peņa Tu, a monolith painted in the Bronze Age with shapes which have not yet been deciphered. Llanes offers the traveller the opportunity of getting to know the old ports and majestic villages of Asturias, which have been re-animated in recent years by a loyal summer tourism. The beauty of the beaches near Llanes fully justifies this circumstance. The old quarter and the port are reason enough to make a visit. The Gothic Church of Santa Maria (whose structure covers styles dated between the 13th and 17th centuries), the tower from the old ramparts which are only partly conserved and the Renaissance palaces and mansions create the silhouette of one of those cities in which art and the natural setting blend together in a most satisfactory manner.
We pass by Celorio and Barro, with lovely beaches extended between the rocks, and arrive at San Antolin de Bedon, a lovely Romanesque church which rises beside the coast. From here we should take highway N-634 to Ribadesella, an old port which has taken advantage of the protection offered by the winding mouth of the Sella. Here as well the natural attractions of its beaches combine with a beautiful urban center and with the fact that it has one of the most important prehistoric sites in the country. The Cave of Tito Bustillo has conserved to our day a very interesting collection of animal representations. Farther on by Colunga, the traveller can follow a short turn-off to the beautiful fishing port of Lastres. It is worth the effort to climb up to the Sanctuary of San Roque and obtain one of the most breath-taking views of the Asturian coastline.
One needs time in order to get to know the Villaviciosa estuary. The city, open to the sea via the deep estuary, is however an old inland burg surrounded by apple orchards and it has been engaged since time began in the making of cider. Preserved from its glorious Middle Ages are among other testimonies, two churches of great interest: that of Santa Maria in the center of town, and that of San Juan de Amandi located 2km outside of Villaviciosa. The latter church, dated in the 13th century and restored in the 18th, has a fine sculptural collection which deserves an unrushed visit.
Another lovely excursion can be followed as well from Villaviciosa and though it will take the traveller away from the coast, it will also give him a first look at the very interesting Asturian Pre-Romanesque art. Heading in the direction of Oviedo, one comes to Church of Salvador de Valdedios, 10km along the way. It is a small and beautiful 11th century temple known in these lands as El Conventin (Little Convent). This church despite its episodic Mozarabic influence (scarcely visible in a couple of details) is perfectly representative of that moment of our architecture which shows remains of mural paintings. The Cruz de la Victoria (Cross of Victory) stands out on the small twin windows of the main faįade and become a symbolic image of the Astur kingdom and consequently of the Asturian region.
Back in Villaviciosa, we should skirt the estuary and head once again towards the ocean. To the East of the mouth is the broad and beautiful Rodiles beach; to the West, the port of Tazones, a lovely fishermen's enclave. From here to Gijon -the next stop- the traveller should take the national highway which in this section passes through a landscape of valleys covered with forever green meadows and apple orchards. Right before we reach our destination, there is a turn-off to the Playa de la Ņora. Gijon is one of the most important cities in Asturias, offering some very unusual characteristics. It is an active industrial center, a highly traditional port, a monumental center and a summer resort area. Our advice, upon arriving, is to head for the historic quarter and once we are there, initiate a pleasant walking tour.. The Santa Catalina hill, with the typical Cimadevilla quarter, is still filled with a sea-faring atmosphere and they separate the old port from the broad and beautiful beach of San Lorenzo, which makes up one of Fijon's favourite symbols.
At the foot of Cimadevilla is a very beautiful square open to the old Gijon port where the Collegiate Church of San Juan and the Revillagigedo Palace stand; both are 18th century structures, though the Baroque faįade of the Palace is framed by two 15th century structures. Very close by, without leaving the small heart of the city, the traveller will discover the birthplace of Jovellanos, today set up as a museum, a fine example of residential Asturian architecture. And once we have reached this point, we should initiate the route of El Muro, a long walk which borders the beach of San Lorenzo.
From Gijon to Cabo de Peņas, the coast is a succession of beaches, ports and rocky sections, well equipped for summer tourism. Passing through Perlora, with a good beach, one soon comes to Dandas, an old fishing port between cliffs which conserve a beautiful 18th century church. Luanco surrounded by very beautiful landscape, also has the peaceful charm of the old sea-faring cities, in which everything, including a small and well-protected beach takes on very human proportions. From here, it is almost compulsory to go to the Cabo de Peņas lighthouse, set on an impressive hill of inclined strata which make up one of the most characteristic views of the Cantabrian coast.
Without leaving the regional roads which skirt the coast, we soon come to Aviles, an important industrial center with a fine monumental collection and from there we can continue to Salinas, an almost endless beach and traditional summer resort area. A little farther on, in the direction of Cudillero is the Pravia estuary and near its source, the El Aguilar beach, also quite long and backed by very lovely scenery. Cudillero is the next stop. Once again, it is an old and active fishing port made up of a conglomerate of glass-enclosed galleries and different level roofs. In its city center, one should get to know the Church of San Pedro, a building conceived in a simple late Gothic style. Near Cudillero is the 19th century El Pito (or Los Selgas) Palace which has a magnificent collection of 16th century Flemish tapestries.
The beach of Concha de Artedo offers a panorama which is definitely worth the stop-over. From here, the national highway unfolds amidst very beautiful landscape in which valleys and meadows alternate with the seascapes. Cavedo, half way between Cudillero and Luarca, is a small town which has a good beach. Luarca, finally, requires that the traveller make an unrushed visit in order to capture all of the charm of a small town which sits on a cove and in which, fortunately, the presence of a loyal summer tourism has not become too evident. The walk towards the cemetery -located on a small peninsula- is certainly worth it. Here as well, we must make mention of a beautiful beach among the city's attractions.
Navia, at the mouth of a deep estuary, is located halfway between the inland towns and the coastal ones. Near the peaceful city center is Castro de Coaņa, one of the best conserved prehistoric sites of the Cantabrian area. Tapia de Casariego is the last part of the Asturian coast open to the ocean. Very close by Tapia is the estuary formed by the Eo River. Castropol set on a small hill which descends to the peaceful waters, is perhaps one of the most beautiful enclaves of the coast and, of course, it provides a magnificent way of bidding farewell to the Asturian landscape, while sighting the Galician lands on the other side of the ria.