The Jardín Botánico and the Universidad Laboral de Gijón (known as Laboral for short) are located on the outskirts of Gijón. Laboral is a large stone complex built back in the 1950s, which welcomes visitors through towering gates, into a beautiful stone courtyard with massive cathedral and tall tower that can be seen from the city. There is an off-shoot campus of the University of Oviedo, some other offices, a cafe. It’s even, at times, an outdoor concert venue.
The courtyard above is populated with statues of scientists and philosophers; while the church has intricate tile mosaics situated inside the half domes. There are also iblical figure statues, just sitting on the steps in one corner of the huge courtyard, watching the students on their way to class, or tour groups listening to their guide or other visitors wandering around aimlessly. Their eyes (like ours) seeming to take in all around them. One can tour the tower, but we could not as it was closed due to Covid when we wanted to visit.
Outside the courtyard is a large round pool with fountain in the middle (though in our visits we never saw water in said fountain). Beyond there are benches that overlook basketball courts, a long unused pool, and a fenced in soccer field. There was also a spectacular view of the hillside, sprinkled with homes, and nice to look at on sunny and cloudy days.
Some days we would just visit the Botanical Gardens and others Laboral as each had their own vibe but are located less than a five minute walk away from each other. Botanical Gardens are enjoyable in almost every city I have visited (Florence was less than impressive) and we were lucky enough to first visit the Gijón Botanical Gardens in summer of 2021, when the leaves were green, the flowers bright, and the floral smells are at their most sweet and fragrant.
Visiting on a rainy day was one of my favorite times, as there were usually few, if any, people, and hearing the stream running, with the rain drizzling, walking on the gravel paths and soft grasses of the gardens, eventually reaching the huge, old and weathered birch forest trees, just listening to the nature, was special.
My favorite part was reaching the giant trees, some planted in a football field long row along the fence, their branches in winter bare, creating dark veins against the grey skies. Then, the multiple stories tall coniferous trees and eucalyptus trees, it was hard not to look up with wonder.
Our last visit to the gardens we spent in the Atlantic Gardens section, where we saw many plants and shrubs just like the ones back in the States. There is also an easy garden maze, which makes for a cool pictures from above.
Easily reachable by bus #1 or #2 (and any other lines that end at the regional hospital, Las Cabueñes, of which there are many), take the 25 minute bus ride from the city center of Gijón and you will first encounter the Jardín Botánico (bus stop is right outside), followed by the Laboral stop. We would often take the bus and explore the area before walking the five or so kilometers back to Gijón; where we would often stop for a snack or drink at one of the many cafes on the route back. Before we left, however, we would have a coffee or beer at the Funeraria Gijonesa, which is the funeral home, located between Laboral and the hospital Cabueñes. The Funeraria Gijonesa has a quite nice cafe that is highly recommended (Jesse even wrote about a visit here!).