The principality of Asturias in situated on the north coast facing the Bay of Biscay (Mar Cantábrico). An autonomous region of Spain, it is one of the areas that is commonly known as, ‘Green Spain’, a title given to the Spanish northern maritime coast; a lush, green coastal strip which runs north from the Cantabrian and Basque mountains, along the Bay of Biscay, and includes the land zones of Asturias, Cantabria and half of the Basque country, from Galicia to the French border.
Asturias is an ancient and magical land, as majestic and thrilling, as it is ancient and romantic. A place to wake up to and feel
exhilarated, to feel part of the bewitching landscapes and to experience the sensation that you are standing in prehistoric country.
Asturias is a naturally striking and contrasting
region, from the rugged coast and tempestuous sea, to its lush vegetation and inland wooded national parks, dramatic mountain ranges, biosphere reserves and remote caves where you can behold Palaeolithic cave art. If you wish to enjoy a holiday surrounded by natural beauty, then we thoroughly recommend Asturias.
The contrast of the Asturian countryside and natural coastal zone makes for a perfect vacation for those who love hiking and walking. The coastal area is both stunning and dramatic; long sandy beaches, hidden caves and a spectacular backdrop of rugged mountains. The marine zone of Asturias was the first in Spain to become a protected area.
Head inland and the scenery is no less spectacular; mountain villages, emerald forests, gorges, fertile plains, rushing rivers, and the serene and magnificent snow capped Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe), which attract walking enthusiasts from all over the world. The ancient land is still dotted with the footprints from the dinosaurs from the Jurassic age, 150 million years ago. It’s also one of the only places in Western Europe where brown bears still roam and its home to wild wolves, chamois and golden eagles.
The region has its own language, Asturiano or Bable, however, Asturianos also speak Castellano (traditional Spanish).
There are three main cities in the principality –
Oviedo, Aviles and Gijon:
Oviedo is the capital of Asturias, a historic
university city, which attracts students from all over the world. Oviedo is also host to the annual Prince of Asturias Awards, which celebrates outstanding achievements in the Sciences, Humanities and Public Affairs. The awards are
amongst the most prestigious in the world, a sculpture by Joan Miró is presented to each year’s winners. Bob Dylan was honoured with an awarded in 2007.
Aviles is located on the Cantabria coast, although the smallest of the three main towns in Asturias, it is the most popular in terms of tourism, the old seafaring and farming town is now a modern
industry-thriving town. UNESCO has declared its city centre a Historical-Artistic site and it boasts many important architectural sites.
Gijon is situated in the central coastal area of Asturias; it began as a fishing village nearly 3000 years ago and is now considered the maritime capital of Asturias, incorporating one of Spain’s busiest shipping ports. The city combines perfectly its historical past with a modern day,
energetic and prosperous town. It’s vibrant and lovely and has great shopping and places to eat.
Asturian gastronomy is created around wholesome and hearty home cooking. When in Asturias you have to try the rich bean stew dish
of Fabada Asturiana, which consists of fabes (white beans) with chorizo sausage, morcilla (black pudding), lacón (shoulder of pork), tocino or pancetta (pork fat) and saffron. It’s a rather heavy meal, so best served at lunchtime, so you can enjoy a siesta afterwards, or to try a smaller portion as a starter. Fabada should be washed down with typical Asturian strong cider or a
good red wine.
Antother gastronomical favourite from Asturias is Queso de Cabrales (Cabrales cheese); coming from the town of Cabrales in Asturias and made in the traditional way, it’s a blue cheese, deliciously piquant in both smell and taste. All of the milk that goes into the production of Cabrales comes exclusively from herds reared in a small zone in the Picos de Europa mountains.
How to get there
To arrive in Asturias you can catch a flight straight from Madrid, Barcelona, London or Paris. Asturias airport is located close to Aviles and is easily accessible to and from the three main towns of Aviles, Gijon and Oviedo.
The weather in Asturias is as contrasting as is the
scenery; it can be extremely wet and temperate for much of the year and in the winter, especially in the mountainous areas, it can get quite cold. However, this only makes for more dramatic scenery, with the snowy mountains and storm-wrecked beaches. Many areas within the region have their own microclimate, due to the close proximity of the sea to the Cantabrian Mountains.