The cradle of Spain – Covadonga

It is Thursday 9th of May and we discover the cradle of Spain: Covadonga in the Picos de Europa.


The lakes high above the cradle of Spain: Lago Enol and Lago de la Ercina

The forecast announces rain for the afternoon. We arrive in Covadonga around eleven and decide to drive the additional 10km to the glacier lakes above. The route is spectacular, climbs up from the valley (you see it on the photo), then follows the steep hills and after each turn we see more and more peaks of the Picos de Europa.

The first lake, Lago Enol, lies on 1080m. 

The second lake, Lago Ercina, at 1108m, is just below the snow mountains.


With the Asturian cows, we enjoy the view here.

Ursula loves the flowers, gentianes, Christmas Roses and Affodills.


Covadonga – the cradle of Spain

We learn that the two lakes, formed by glaciers, give birth to creeks that disappear later, flow through various karst tunnels and reappear, one such secondary source being under the Cueva Santa, the cradle of Spain. 

The Spanish Reconquista started here in Covadonga in the mountains of Asturia. That was in 722*. The charismatic commander of the Visigoths, Pelayo, was able to unify the mountain people,  motivate them to oppose to the taxes imposed by the Emir of Córdoba (the “Arabs”), lead the Arab troops into traps and vanquished them. It is said that Pelayo and his troops hid in this cave that is now the Cueva Santa.

No photos allowed of the Virgin that is said to have given the wooden cross to Pelayo and this was crucial for his victory. This cross can now be seen in the Cathedral of Oviedo.

As the lions may indicate, it was León with Castilia that later took the lead of the Reconquista. The cradle, Asturia, was downgraded from kingdom to principality. But until today, the Spaniards venerate Covadonga and the Cueva Santa very much.

Near the cave is the Neo-Romanesque Basilika San Fernando.


Heavy rain – we retreat to our next hotel in Oviedo

We have just accomplished visiting the lakes and the cradle of Spain in dry weather. The first rain drops start to fall, when we leave Covadonga. An hour later we reach Oviedo in the pouring rain. The hotel Palacio de la Viñona is comfortable.

We make a short visit of the city center of Oviedo, watch the waitors pour the cider into the glass from high above and eat veal with sauce made from mountain cheese. 

We are wet-through. We return to our comfortable and warm hotel. From tomorrow on the weather forecast announces better weather and warmer temperatures. We look forward to that.


More about the Reconquista

The mountain people of Asturias defeated the Arabs in 722. In Poitiers in France Charles Martel halted the invasion of the Muslims in 732. In 801, Charlemagne conquered the Marca España around Barcelona to prevent the Arabs from further attacking what is Southern France today. At school we had learnt about the two Charles, but not about  Asturias and Covadonga. It was from Asturias and from Catalunya that the Reconquista continued. The two lines unified their forces later, in particular the catholic king couple Ferdinand and Isabella that in 1492 completed it by conquering Granada.

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