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Route towards the Picos de Europa Mountains

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  • Picos de Europa National Park © Turespaña

    Picos de Europa National Park © Turespaña

  • Enol Lake, Picos de Europa © Turespaña

    Enol Lake, Picos de Europa © Turespaña

  • Basilica of Santa María la Real in Covadonga. Cangas de Onís

    Basilica of Santa María la Real in Covadonga. Cangas de Onís

  

Land of mountains and valleys

20 kilometres from the sea we'll find one of the most spectacular mountain landscapes in the entire Cantabrian Mountains - Picos de Europa. The legend of Don Pelayo and the Kingdom of Asturias was shaped under the protection of these mountains, caves and gorges. The first protected nature reserve in Europe is the privileged setting for several municipalities that we'll discover on this route.
 

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The route will cross inland municipalities in the eastern part of Asturias. We recommend spending a weekend end here and you will need a car. Our route starts in Cangas de Onís, first capital of the Kingdom of Asturias in the 8th century, and then we'll travel to Peñamellera.

The most representative monument in Cangas de Onís is a real symbol of the region: the Roman Bridge on the Sella River, which was actually built in the 14th century. There is a reproduction of the Victory Cross in the central arch. Tradition has it that the original one in the Cathedral of Oviedo holds the wooden cross that Don Pelayo carried in the Battle of Covadonga in 722.In Cangas de Onís we'll also find the Renaissance Cortés Palace, and the Church of La Asunción, with a striking three-floor belfry.

The route continues along three interesting villages in Cangas de Onís: Contranquil, Abamia and Villanueva. In Contranquil, we'll visit the Chapel of La Santa Cruz. It was founded in 437 on a 3,000 B.C. dolmen, which we can actually see in the crypt. The church, rebuilt after the Civil War, was possibly the tomb of King Favila, Pelayo's son.
In Abamia, the Church of Santa Eulalia was also built on a dolmen and it is thought that it was used as the first church to bury King Pelayo and his wife. Finally, we'll go to the Monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva (12th century), one of the best examples of Asturian Romanesque. It has been turned into a Parador Hotel.

We'll leave Cangas de Onís on the N-625 road towards Amieva. After 14 kilometres we'll stop at the Church of Mián to admire the rural chapel of Santiago de Vis (16th century) and a little further along, San Pablo (17th century) in Vega de Cien. Finally, in Amieva we'll enjoy beautiful views of the gorges above the Sella and Dobra rivers.
We'll return to Cangas and take the AS-114 road towards Cardes. About 15 minutes away on foot we'll be able to see the Cave of El Buxu, with cave art dating from the Upper Palaeolithic (Solutrean Era).

If we take the turn-off to Soto de Cangas inland, into the Picos de Europa National Park, we'll head towards the Covadonga Shrine, setting of the battle that started the Reconquest of Spain against the Moors, and the most visited monument in Asturias. The Santa Cueva stands out, with a Neo-Romanesque chapel where we'll find the image of the Virgen of Covadonga, known as La Santina, as well as the tombs of the kings Pelayo and Alfonso I the Catholic and their respective wives. Next to the cave we'll find the Basilica of Santa María la Real de Covadonga, also a Neo-Romanesque building, which is surprising because of its pinkish limestone.

Back on the AS-114 road again, we'll head towards the next stop on our route: the Gothic church of Santa Eulalia in Benia. It preserves its Pre-Romanesque elements and its 14th century Gothic doorway stands out.

After 12 kilometres we'll stop at the Pozo de la Oración viewpoint in Carreña to look at the Naranjo de Bulnes peak, and Picu Urriellu peak (2,519 metros). This place is in Cabrales, so we must try its tasty gastronomy, which includes its world famous blue cheese.

Our route is coming to an end - we'll visit the Baroque Church of San Pedro de Alles and the remains of the Church of San Pedro de Plecín (Romanesque, 13th century) in the municipality of Peñamellera Alta. In the town of Panes (Peñamellera Baja), we'll take a walk along the ruins of the Church of San Juan de Ciliergo (13th century) and in El Mazo we'll discover the Palaeolithic cave art on the walls of La Loja cave.
 

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