Arrival in Oviedo – the Capital of Asturias
Shortly before the Asturian border I stopped at a big dam called the Embalse de los Barrios de Luna that was embedded in the mountains. I took in the breath-taking mountain scenery and the sleek bridge that spans the reservoir. This was a foreshadowing of things to come in the mountainous province of Asturias. Finally just after 6 pm I arrived in my destination for the next few days: Oviedo, the capital of Asturias.
The bridge at the Embalse de los Barrios de Luna
I would spend my next three nights at the Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes Hotel, a gorgeous newly built 5-star property in the heart of Oviedo. With its sleek modern design, its spacious rooms and luxurious amenities the Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes Hotel has become a favourite destination for business travelers and vacationers alike. Its location right in the city’s centre, at just 200 metres from the famous Campoamor Theatre and the Campo de San Francisco Park, would make a perfect base for exploring Oviedo.
The newly constructed Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes Hotel
Trying to still take advantage of the remaining couple of hours of sunlight, I immediately embarked on a walk through the city. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of activity in the streets; the sidewalks of Calle de Uria were full of people shopping and strolling. Then I arrived at the Campo de San Francisco, a scenic urban park right in the centre of Oviedo. Next to it I admired the late 19th century architecture on the five and six story buildings that framed the streets.
Street scene in Oviedo
Across from the Campo de San Francisco is the Teatro Campoamor, Oviedo’s famous opera and performing arts venue which was inaugurated in 1892. It is also the location of the ceremony for the Prince of Asturias Awards, a series of prestigious prizes in the fields of arts, communications and humanities, international cooperation, literature, social sciences, sports, technical and scientific research and concord. The last award is given to people and organizations that make outstanding contributions to mutual understanding and peaceful human coexistence.
The Teatro Campoamor
These prestigious awards are named after Prince Felipe of Asturias, the son of King Juan Carlos, and have been held in the Campoamor Theatre since 1990. Previous prize winners include Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodóvar, Bob Dylan, Al Gore, Michael Schumacher, Rafael Nadal and J.K. Rowling.
Oviedo has many fascinating sculptures
The entire downtown area of Oviedo is decorated with interesting sculptures and a sculpture of a woman nursing a baby particularly caught my attention. Across the street is the provincial parliament building of Asturias, the Junta del Principado de Asturias. From here I walked to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the location of Ovideo’s city hall and a gorgeous square with ornate brown sandstone buildings.
The city hall of Oviedo
Through narrow streets with lots of retail stores, bars and restaurants I then strolled to the Cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo, the city’s most important church. Equipped with only one church spire, construction of this cathedral was started in 1388 and exhibits different architectural styles, from Pre-Romanesque to Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance elements. The most prevalent style is Flamboyant Gothic as most of the building was constructed between the 14th and 16th centuries.
The Cathedral of Oviedo
It was starting to drizzle now and the weather had cooled down markedly. Tired from my long flight and my drive from Madrid, I decided it was now time to head back to my comfortable room at the Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes Hotel to get a good night’s sleep for my first full day in Austria.
My stylish hotel room