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Route of the hill forts in Asturias

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  • Castro de Coaña © Principado de Asturias

    Castro de Coaña © Principado de Asturias

  • Castro de Mohías © Principado de Asturias

    Castro de Mohías © Principado de Asturias

  • Castro del Chao Samartín © Principado de Asturias

    Castro del Chao Samartín © Principado de Asturias

  • Castro de Pendia © Principado de Asturias

    Castro de Pendia © Principado de Asturias

  

In the footsteps of the Celts

Numerous remains of the ancient settlers can still be seen in the region of the Navia river and along the coastline in western Asturias. A tour of these Celtic hill forts is the ideal way of visiting all the attractions on offer in this area: the Cantabrian coast, fishing villages, beaches and the typical architecture of the 'indianos', the name given to Spaniards returning from the colonies. Towards the interior there are small mediaeval villages and unspoiled natural landscapes.
 

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This route is perfect for doing in a weekend. You'll need not only a car but also a good pair of walking shoes, as some of the settlements can only be reached on foot. This is the case of the El Esteiro hill fort, located 4 kilometres, two of which are along a country path, outside the fishing village of Tapia de Casariego. Although it still remains to be fully excavated, it offers a good walk along the coastline and the beaches of Tapia de Casariego.

We then return to the N-634 road and head for the village of Navia. In Valdepares, a detour towards Fonfría leads to the cape known as Cabo Blanco. This is the site of the hill fort of the same name (about 11 kilometres from the last) located in a spectacular setting beside the cliffs which plunge into the Cantabrian sea.

Back on the N-634, a detour a little before Navia takes us to Castro de Mohías (10 kilometres away). This is the site of a hill fort with 20 huts and three moats dug out of the rock. To proceed we continue on until Navia and then take the road which follows the valley of the Navia river from the coast to Grandas de Salime. Shortly after, we come to Coaña, with a hill fort of the same name.

In order to reach the settlement we need to go to the village of Villacondide (one kilometre along the same road). This is the finest example of a Celtic hill fort in the whole of Asturias. Built on a small hill, it features a wall of considerable thickness which encloses three areas: the acropolis or tower, the settlement itself with up to 80 stone huts, and the sacred site. It offers guided tours and also has an educational workshop.

We continue on our way. The road passes through the landscapes of the valley of the Navia river, through mountains cloaked in forests and with views over the Arbón reservoir. Some 12 kilometres on we take a detour to the village of Pendía. To reach the Pendía hill fort we have to walk the last 500 metres on foot. There are guided tours available around the outer walls and the various structures that have been excavated on the interior (including two saunas).

The next visit is to the hill fort of El Castelón, about 20 kilometres along the same road. Shortly after Illano, a turning to the left takes us to the settlement. The wall is in a particularly good state of conservation and stands about 4 metres high. About 15 kilometres further on we come to the San Isidro hill fort. It is set atop a mountain range on the boundary between the districts of Pesoz and San Martín de Oscos, in a landscape which offers outstanding views.

We have one more visit left. We continue on until we come to Grandas de Salime (about 14 kilometres) and the parish of Castro (another six kilometres). The Chao Samartín hill fort is one of the most complete in Asturias. It was inhabited until the 9th century B.C. and served as the centre of the district after the Roman conquest of the territory. It also has a museum which also functions as a visitor centre, which organises visits to the settlement, exclusively with a guide.

The route passes through several areas which offer a wide variety of gastronomic tasting events all year round.

In addition to the tour of the hill forts themselves, there are numerous other interesting archaeological and artistic sites to visit along the way. For example the rock carvings in La Xorenga (Grandas de Salime) or the fishing villages of Navia, Puerto de Vega and Tapia de Casariego (with Renaissance, Baroque and neoclassical mansions and the typical 19th-century architecture of the 'indianos'). It is also well worth visiting several of the villages in the interior which still conserve their architecture, traditions and mediaeval appearance (the village of Argul in the district of Pesoz, for example). 

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