Friday, May 10th – today we aren going to visit Oviedo, the capital of Asturia.
The two Pre-Romanesque churches on the Naranco hill
First thing in the morning, our GPS goes crazy, drives us up on very, very steep narrow roads, until we reach a dead end in the middle of the forest. The view is spectacular: We see Oviedo surrounded by mountains.
We drive back down, up again and finally we find the Pre-Romanesque church Santa Maria del Naranco.
This church was built by the Asturian king Ramiro I around 850, first as a palace and still in the 9th century it was rebuilt as a church. We study the discreet and pretty decoration.
There are small medaillons above the arches.
The window above the terrace is elegant.
The view of the valley and the mountains of Oviedo is great from this palace-church.
Some hundred meters from here we find the chapel San Miguel de Lillo, built at the same time.
Elegantly decorated windows here as well.
This church is closed for renovation.
The third Pre-Romanesque church on the meadows (los Prados)
The third Pre-Romanesque church is San Julián de los Prados, on the meadows next to a large road with heavy traffic.
Inside we find beautiful frescoes – they show floral patterns and buildings (but no people or animals) and have been restored in the 1980’s. Photos are not allowed inside.
We return to our hotel with the lush garden and join Spain for siesta.
The Cathedral San Salvador in the city center
The Cathedral San Salvador, Gothic in style, was built between the 14th and the 16th century. The city planned two towers and completed one of them. I find it graceful.
Sculptures like this woman are all over the city center. This one is called “La Regenta”.
The Cathedral has an open nave, which is untypical for Spain; usually the choir is in the middle filling the nave ungracefully. Not here. The choir has been removed, the nave is open and the view of the golden altar is free. The altar has been created at the brink of Gothic to Renaissance (which is called “Isabelline” in Spain).
Not far from here we find this expressive Romanesque sculpture of San Salvador from the 11th century.
The most important piece in the treasury chamber is the Victory Cross. It is said that Maria handed this cross over to the commander Peylao who defeated the Arabs near Covadonga in 722 (yesterday we were in Covadonga, the craddle of Spain).
Strolling through the narrow streets of the city center
The narrow streets in the city center are good for strolling around. At the end of this pretty street, we can see the tower of the townhall.
Relaxed squares all over and many, many inviting bars like this one.
To wrap up our Pre-Romanesque culture tour, we look at the back of the San Triso church right next to the Cathedral.
Dinner and good-bye
We return to our hotel and have dinner in one of the busy bar-restaurants nearby, in the Tonel. An extremely professional waitor serves us. I have pike stuffed with seafood – prepared the Asturian way. We watch a very tall waitor, as he pours out the cider holding the bottle high above a tilted glass – a real art.
There is much more to see in Oviedo – perhaps we will return…