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Pre-Romanesque art route

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  • Church of San Miguel de Lillo, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

    Church of San Miguel de Lillo, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

  • Church of Santa María del Naranco, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

    Church of Santa María del Naranco, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

  • Church of San Julián de los Prados, Oviedo © J. Santullano. Principado de Asturias

    Church of San Julián de los Prados, Oviedo © J. Santullano. Principado de Asturias

  • Foncalada Fountain, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

    Foncalada Fountain, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

  • Detail of the Church of San Miguel de Lillo, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

    Detail of the Church of San Miguel de Lillo, Oviedo © Principado de Asturias

  

The beautiful architecture of Asturias

This route will reveal a unique style of art to us: the Asturian pre-Romanesque. We will see 14 architectural works of great beauty, from the 9th and 10th centuries, many of them declared UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1985. They are genuine cultural symbols, located in exquisite natural surroundings.
 

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Two to three days are recommended to complete this route. The first day can be devoted to the capital city, Oviedo, and its surrounding area. It is well worth the time spent, as this city has the most complete set of architectural pieces from this greatly innovative period of art.


The first place to visit is the cathedral. Although Gothic in style, it was built over what is known as the Cámara Santa Chamber (9th century). Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it possesses the famous Cathedral Treasure, with pieces that are over a thousand years old. Next to the cathedral is San Tirso Church, which preserves one of the walls from the original church, with a characteristic window. Not far from here, there is another World Heritage building: the Foncalada fountain. This is the only surviving example of secular architecture in the Asturian pre-Romanesque style, and it continues in use today. Another World Heritage site not to be missed is San Julián de los Prados Church (also known as Santullano Church), which is the oldest, and largest, surviving pre-Romanesque building.


We can now continue to Monte Naranco Mountain, which is near the city. This place is sure to delight, thanks both to its pretty landscape and to the churches of Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo. These are the two most important examples of Asturian pre-Romanesque, and have been designated as World Heritage sites. The most important features of the first of these, originally conceived as a palace, are its two famous viewing balconies at the sides. The second church, notable for its slenderness, preserves its original doorway and one section of the original nave. The best way to end such a full day is to take a pleasant stroll to the nearby Santa María de Bendones Church.


Beyond Oviedo.
A good way to start the second day of the route is to head a few kilometres south of Oviedo to Santa Cristina de Lena Church (in Lena). Designated a World Heritage site, it is located in a spectacular valley and mountain landscape. From here we can head towards Trubia, west of Oviedo, to visit San Pedro de Nora Church (in Las Regueras), and then turn inland to Santo Adriano de Tuñón Church (in Santo Adriano) to see its mural paintings.
Turning towards the coast, very close to the Cantabrian Sea, we will find San Juan de Santianes Church (in Pravia), another pretty example of Asturian pre-Romanesque that is sure to delight.


There is still time on the same day (or you can leave it for the third day, if you prefer) to head east along the coast. After passing through important cities like Avilés and Gijón, we come to the picturesque fishing town of Villaviciosa. In its surrounding areas are the last three Asturian pre-Romanesque buildings left for us to visit: San Salvador de Valdediós Church, located next to Santa María de Valdediós Monastery, San Salvador de Priesca Church and Santiago de Gobiendes Church (in Colunga). This concludes our route, which we leave behind with the satisfaction of having seen some of the most beautiful places in Asturias and a unique artistic heritage.

 

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