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Holiday Ideas For Asturias


Asturias and Cantabria, northern Spain

Part of the green coast, because of the amount of rainfall. An autonomous region within Spain it used to be a separate kingdom during the middle ages when the country was still divided. Despite the fact that over the last few years, the shoals of the Cantabrian Sea have been depleted somewhat, more than half of the coastal village's populations still make their living from the sea. A large part of the catch is still caught with hook and sinker and as any fish expert will tell you, this is the only way to guarantee the freshest of fish. Unlike many regions of Spain, great steps have been taken to preserve the beauty and majesty of the impressive coastline which is largely unspoilt by development with a fantastic range of clean sandy beaches. The main and most compelling reason to visit Asturias is its superb cuisine, which is rated very highly even among the Spanish. With an economy dominated by farming, crop harvesting and fishing, the way of life in Asturias has retained a continuity that most other parts of the country have now lost.

Geography

Asturias and Cantabria sit on the Northern coast of Spain facing out towards the Atlantic, into The Cantabrian Sea. Asturias is bordered in the East by Cantabria and in The West by Galicia. The principal city and capital in Asturias is Oviedo. Other major towns and cities are the seaport and largest city Gijon, and the industrial town ofAviles.

The region represents just over 2% of Spain and has a population in 2006 of around 1.1m. The region has some of Spain's best natural parks. The mountains known as the Picos de Europa stand towering over a region of fast flowing rivers, vast orchards and tiny farmhouses. Inland the area is rich in minerals. Oviedo, the capital of Asturias is home to about 200,000 people and is known for its university and its industry. The beauty of the area is envied by many Spanish city dwellers.

The Cantabrian Mountains(Cordillera Cantábrica) form Asturias's natural border with the province of Leon to the south. In the eastern range, the Picos De Europa National Park contains the highest and arguably most spectacular mountains, rising to 2648 metres (8688 ft) at the Torrecerredo peak. Other notable features of this predominantly-limestone range are the Parque Natural de Redes in the central east, the central Ubiñas south of Oviedo, and the Parque Natural de Somiedo in the west.

The Asturian coastline is extensive, with hundreds of beaches, coves and natural sea caves. Most of Asturias' beaches are sandy, clean and bordered by steep cliffs, on top of which it is not unusual to see grazing livestock. However it should be noted that water temperature even in Summer remains on the chilly side, it does not attain Mediterranean temperatures which some Spanish visitors may expect.

Climate

The climate of Asturias and Cantabria, is more varied than that of southern parts of the country. Summers are generally humid and warm, with considerable sunshine, but also some rain. Winters are cold with some very cold snaps. The cold is especially felt in the mountains, where snow is present from October till May. Both rain and snow are regular weather features of Asturian winters.

What's there ' attraction ' landmarks

The Cantabrian mountains, and especially the Picos De Europa, offer opportunities for activities such as climbing, walking, horse riding, canoeing, skiing and caving, and extend some 200 km in total, as far as Galicia province to the west of Asturias, and Cantabria province to the east. See National Parks.

Oviedo, Astrurias

Oviedo, the capital city of Asturias: a clean, picturesque city with a diverse architectural heritage. Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, a pre-Romanesque church and a palace respectively, which were built by the first Asturian kings on Mount Naranco, to the north of the city.

Covadonga

Covadonga is situated just to the west and north of the Picos de Europa mountain range in the heart of Asturias' walking and hiking country. Covadonga so possesses a religious sanctuary with a splendid and historic basilica, a mythical grotto, a museum and both a statue to, and the tomb of, Asturian and Spanish hero, Pelayo. The shrine to the Virgin Mary of Covadonga and the mountain lakes (Los Lagos), near Cangas de Onís. Legend has it that in the 8th century, the Virgin blessed Asturian Christian forces with a well-timed signal to attack Spain's Moorish conquerors, thereby taking the invaders by surprise. The reconquest and eventual unification of all Spain is therefore said to have started in this very location.

Llanes, Asturias

Llanes possesses a number of fine beaches (for example Barro and Ballotta) . Also nearby is an unusual rock formation, best viewed at low tide, on the beach at Buelna village, just East of Llanes.

Comillas, Cantabria

Comillas is about 50 km West of Santander in Cantabria and 11km east of San Vincente de la Buquera in Asturias, and sits on the coast and is a designated historic-artistic site. It has cobbled streets and squares with ancestral houses, towers and Modernist style buildings. Special mention should be made of: "El Capricho", a building designed by Antoni Gaudí, with its unmistakable portico and ceramic wall decoration; Sobrellano Palace, a Neo-Gothic construction; the Pontifical University, which dominates the whole village. Comillas has fine sand beaches, perfect for water sports. Alongside the beach you will find Oyambre Nature Reserve, a large coastal area with dunes, cliffs, marshland and an estuary, with a wealth of bird life. We would recommend walks on the trails that run through the village.

Ribadesella, Asturias

Located slightly to the west of Llanes, Ribadesella is beautiful coast facing town with the Picos de Europa mountains behind it and the ocean to its front. The town is estuarial and sees the meeting of the ocean and the river Sella (renowned with canoeists for its famous descent) from which Ribadesella derives its name. The town is famed for its quaint old quarter. You will see interesting and highly colourful buildings, little paved squares, lots of cafes and an atmosphere filled old quarter with an active market and a number of shops and stalls. Many of these shops concentrate in the local specialties of chocolates and cakes as well as Asturian cheeses for which the region is famous. Goat and lamb's cheeses are a particular specialty.

Ribadesella is the archetypal former Asturian fishing village turned cultural tourist hotspot. It has a very popular beach, "la playa de Santa Marina" on one side of its estuarial river and the original old town on the other. The two districts are linked by a bridge, the "Puente del Sella", which is accessible by car and foot. The river Sella forms a natural divide across the town with the older parts of Ribadesella being found to the east of the river, whilst across the bridge to the west lay the more recent expansions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The town's original harbour is at the foot of the old district and it is still operational and well worth exploring. The surrounding areas adjacent to the town also boast ancient caves (particularly the "Tito bustillo" which you need to book well in advance) with prehistoric cave paintings within it. Information about these and the town itself can be picked up from the town's tourism office which lies in a prominent position close to the old bridge.

Other Atrractions

- Ceceda village: east of Oviedo along the N634 road. Of particular interest in this exemplary settlement are the traditional horreo grain silos, raised on stilts so as to keep field mice from getting at the grain.

- The Dobra River: south of Cangas de Onis, famous for its unusual colour and natural beauty.

- The senda costera (coastal way) between Pendueles and Llanes: this partly-paved nature route takes in some of Asturias' most spectacular coastal scenery, such as the noisy bufones (large water spouts created naturally by the erosion of the sea) and the Playa de Ballota.

National Parks in Asturias

Picos De Europa

The Picos De Europa National park, and other parts of the Asturian mountain range: The most famous mountain in the park is the Picu Urriellu (2519 m or 8262 ft), also known as El Naranjo de Bulnes, a molar-shaped peak which glows orange in the evening sun, hence its name. You can take a cable car to the summit and see the eagles circling. Weather permitting, it can be viewed clearly from Camarmeña village, near Poncebos, south of Arenas de Cabrales. This is the most extensive park and natural area in Asturias / Cantabria.

Parque Natural de las Fuentes del Narcea y del Ibias

Apart from the great landscape beauty of the Reserve, its most important feature is its unique species of fauna, that are almost mythical, such as the brown bear, capercaillie and wolf. The Reserve is formed by the high basins of the river Ibias and Narea, and closed to the south by sierra de Degaña, and the north by that of Caniellas. Inside you can find the Reserves of Muniellos and Cueto de Arbás, habitats where different populations of brown bear and capercaillies are protected. Other outstanding species are the peregrine falcon, partridge, Pyrenean muskrat, grey dormouse; as well as the roe deer, wild boar, wild cat and martens.

Parque Natural de Redes

UNESCO declared the Redes Nature Park a Biosphere Reserve in the year 2001. To the south of the Principality of Asturias, the beech and oak forests unfold, which shelter more than 50 mammal species and 130 bird species. For the most part, this territory is part of the Nalon river basin, in the townships of Caso and Sobrescobio. In this section you can find elevations that range between 400 and 2,000 metres, the Torres Peak being the highest of them. As a whole, this park consists of a rugged relief, crossed by watercourses, defiles and narrow valleys. In addition, rain has eroded the calcareous substratum creating karstic elements like abysses and dolines. In the beech and oak forests you can also find holly trees, yews and ferns. In the mountain passes, the landscape is completed with the colours of narcissus, heather and bilberry. This flora provides the optimal spaces for the reproduction of protected mammals like the brown bear and the otter. There is also an abundant bird life, with about 130 species, among which the capercaillie, the golden eagle, the Egyptian vulture and the goshawk must be pointed out. The rocky areas and the scrubs are the habitat of different types of birds. The most numerous game species include red deer, chamois and wild boars. Among domestic animals, the Asturian mountain cow is the most common.

Parque Natural de Somiedo

UNESCO declared the Somiedo Nature Park a Biosphere Reserve in the year 2000. The landscape in Somiedo is characteristic of the ecosystems found in the Cantabrian Mountains. This Park is known, most of all, for sheltering the great majority of specimens of brown bear in Europe that are still living in the wild.

Somiedo is located south of the Principality of Asturias, coinciding with the township of the same name. The park is located in the region known as "Damp Iberia", the remarkable climate of which is characterised by mild winters, fresh summers, humidity, heavy clouds and frequent rain. This climate has encouraged lush vegetation, with abundant beech forests and a wide variety of oak groves, like pendunculate oak, melojo oak, birch oak, alder tree, holm oak as well as fresh, deep forests. The fauna in Somiedo is, in general, very similar to that found in the rest of the Cantabrian Mountains. In fact, in the Nature Park you can find all the great mammals of the mountain range, along with a great number of small mammal species, more than one hundred bird species and around twenty species of amphibians and reptiles. The populations of brown bears, capercaillies, wolves and otters are especially interesting.