As the capital of the Principality of Asturias, Oviedo is also the name of the municipality where the city lies. It is the administrative capital of the region, and has a well known International Campus at its University. It is where the St James pilgrimage route crosses with the Route of the Silver and is a town of great monumental patrimony and important museums. It is a clean, modern and well kept city, preserving the real Asturian charm and tradition.
Oviedo was founded in 761 by Monks. The church dedicated to St Vincent was one of the first constructions built in the city. Further construction was ordered by King Fruela I, the fourth Asturian Monarch, but the establishment of the capital was due to Alfonso II The Chaste (791-842) who also started the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela, oversaw the works of the Cathedral and a royal palace. Architecture flourished in this period and now shows several influences, most significantly, Visigoth, Roman and Nordic. Ramiro I of Asturias was responsible for promoting several construction works in the city.
Between the 12th and 16th centuries, the medieval city developed hugely as well as the city walls, which are still preserved to this day. There was fire in 1521 which devastated much of the city, and the aqueduct was built in the 16th century providing the city with better water. The 17th century was the opening of the Arts College (University of Oviedo) which encouraged urban expansion in Oviedo. Beautiful palaces were constructed in the 18th century by the city’s nobility, the 19th century was taken over by industrial growth and the 20th century was important for administrative and commercial development. During the Spanish civil war, Oviedo was famous for the Siege of Oviedo in 1936, when there was a 3 month siege by Republican forces.
Monuments of Oviedo
It is imperative to visit the Old Town in Oviedo, where you will see the likes of the Cathedral with its Holy Chamber and the Theatre Campoamor amongst others. There are 12 National Monuments in the city, which show examples of pre Romanesque architecture. The old historic centre of Oviedo is pedestrianized so it is pleasurable to stroll around. The Gothic cathedral of San Salvador is not to be missed which was constructed on order from Alfonso II of Asturias, in the 14th century over the original which was built in the 8th century. The most impressive gothic features include the Rose window, the tower and the entrance portico. It is said to house the cloth that covered and cleaned Jesus’ face after the crucifixion.
World heritage sites in Oviedo include the following buildings of importance, Santa Maria del Naranco, San Miguel de Lillo and San Julián de los Prados, which are all National Monuments. There is also an archaeological museum in the historic quarter of the city which contains many fascinating pieces and covers much of the history of Asturias from the Bronze Age. Before arriving to the new districts of Oviedo, the University is the last building in the historic centre. It has a Plateresque façade from the 16th century with a beautiful cloister.
In the oldest part of the historic quarter, Cimadevilla, you will find Constitution Square and plaza de Trascorrales which was the former exchange. You will also find the city hall from the 18th century and the Church of San Isidro. There are many porches around here serving the famous, natural Asturian cider.