Oviedo is the capital of Asturias and maintains its position as a university and administrative service city. It is a very attractive, clean city with an old sector close to the cathedral, a Central Park, a thriving shopping centre and various museums and monuments. All of these make it well worth a visit.
The building started in the 14th century and was finished in 1587 taking about 70 years to build. From the ground to the lightning conductor it measures 70 meters.
Close to the cathedral there are other churches and palaces of interest including the church of San Tirso rebuilt after the big fire in Oviedo in 1521, the Valdecarzana Palace built between the 17th and 18th century and the Marquis and Marchioness of Camposagrado Palace built in the 18th century
Asturias is also an area rich in orchids species where it is possible to find bee orchids or man orchids growing along the side of old roads or purple fields full of Serapias. There are also various Narcissus species present in Asturias three of which have been declared of special interest in the EEC. It is possible to walk in the mountains in April and see fields coloured yellow with the presence of the small Narcissus citrinus or find clumps of Narcissus leonensis looking like they have been planted there by an avid gardener.
The region is almost as famous for its forests. The highest forests are composed mainly of beech, giving way to mixed woodlands of Pyrenean oak, ash, sweet chestnut, birch, holly, yew and lime lower down. There are many important forests in the area, some of which are outlined below:
· Beech forests of Valdeón and Sajambre. A magnificent Atlantic wood, and one of the best beech woods in the Iberian Peninsula.
· Monte Cortegueros. Beech forest with the largest representation of yews in the national park, situated on either side of the "Senda del Arcediano"
· Pome. A mature beech forest close to the kings look out point. Recently declared a restricted area.
· Bosque de Peloña. A special protected beech forest in the Ponga district, with a large representation of hollies, and Capercaillies.
Situated on the Cantabrian Sea, it is some times refereed to as the capital of the green coast. With its 275,00 inhabitants it is now the principal nucleus of population in Asturias. Less compact than Oviedo it covers 3 beaches in its urban reaches; there is a small old town, a sports marina and obviously good shops.
There is a 9km coastal footpath which joins the beach "Playa de Poniente" with the park "Parque Cabo S. Lorenzo" where there are sculptures, resting areas and look out points. Another path (6kms) has been created from a disused railway, which used to transport coal from the Camocha mine (start of the walk) to the large industrial port of Musei
In Gijon there is a large selection of museums including 2 art museums, an ethnographical museum, a railway museum and an archaeological museum. (See section museums in Asturias.) There are also roman baths, which can be visited "Termas Romanas del Campo Valdés"
Aviles was traditionally the major industrial town of Asturias with iron, steel and aluminium works. Although it still has the characteristics of an industrial town it also has a small but important old town which has recently been declared a Historic and Artistic Monument by the Spanish government. The city became fortified in the 11th century due to its commercial activity as a result of its strategic emplacement and sheltered port. By the 17th century the population growth made it necessary to build outside the medieval citadel, and in the 19th century there was a further "bourgeois urban expansion" Although the fortified city has been destroyed the old town dating from the 17th century is worth visiting.