Oviedo is the capital of Asturias, 24 kilometers (15 miles) south of Gijón, and a short 30-minute bus ride. We have visited Oviedo more times than I can count, thanks to our intercambio meetup group, where we have met some cool people and practiced speaking Spanish. While Oviedo is slightly smaller than Gijón in terms of population, there is a busyness and faster pace that comes with the city compared to Gijón, which has a much more relaxed vibe. Whenever we arrive in Oviedo it seems like everyone is rushing to get somewhere.
There is also a more “old-world(to Americans)” feel to Oviedo; more narrow, cobblestone streets, more classical European architecture when compared to Gijón (likely due to the fact that Gijón was bombed extensively during the Spanish Civil Ware and much of it rebuilt). It is also the starting point to one of the many paths of the Camino de Santiago, which ends in Santiago de Compestela.
When we were looking at cities in Spain to spend our year sabbatical we did not consider Oviedo because it is not on the water, and is slightly colder than Gijón in the winter. Whenever we return from Oviedo to Gijón the temperature is always a few degrees warmer (at least) and we smile to ourselves.
The Oviedo Cathedral is quit impressive, as well as the square it is situated upon. We have never entered the Cathedral because they charge seven euros for it, which we find unseemly (and I have mentioned before; the only cathedrals we have paid to enter in Spain are in León and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and both are worth it). The square is nice place to people-watch and have a coffee, and take a picture in front of the cathedral or with the Escultura de La Regenta.
If you are visiting Oviedo and like art, there is also the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias located on the same square, which has art done by Asturian artists as well as a Picasso and Dali paintings, that has free entry. There is a rotating gallery on the lowest level, and the museum is always worth a visit (we have been three times). My favorite painting is by the Spanish artist Luis Álvarez Catalá, named “Muchacha romana (Mi primera obra)” from 1859.
Oviedo has a excellent city park situated in the center of the city, the Campo de San Fransisco, which has many walking paths, tall trees that provide excellent shade during the hot summers, a pond, as well as numerous statues. One of the most popular ones is that of the comic strip character Mafalda, who is quite famous in Spain and Latin America (I liken her most to Calvin and Hobbes). There is usually a wait to take a picture with the statue, but one evening we found no one else around so took that as our chance. The director Woody Allen also has a statue across the street from the park, as he featured the city prominently in one of his movies.
A must see church is the Iglesia de San Julián de los Prados – Santullano, which dates back to the 9th century (and certainly looks it).
Jessica wrote about our first day trip to Oviedo way back in June 2021 here. Oviedo has been our most frequented city in Asturias (besides our temporary home of Gijón, that is) and it has always treated us well, from the food, to the people, to the art and parks, and is an excellent place to spend a day (or two).
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