There are three cities in Asturias: Oviedo, the capital of the Principality; Gijón, the largest in terms of population; and Avilés, which is further west, completing an equidistant triangle with all three cities just a short drive from one another. A truly metropolitan area.
A commercial town of medieval origin and long-standing maritime tradition, it boasts an old quarter dotted with mansions, gardens, fountains, churches, arcaded houses, and more… all of which lend it a unique atmosphere. The size and proportions of its estuary, and the fact that it passes right through the heart of the city, make Avilés the only city in Asturias with a major river flowing at the foot of the old town, one of the best preserved in all of Northern Spain.
The founding of Oviedo has all the legendary epic ingredients of all great deeds and cities. Since ancient times, it retains its monastic and regal mark, and continues to be the original reference point for the original or Primitive Way of St James , the pilgrims’ road to Santiago de Compostella which was likewise founded by an Asturian king, Alfonso II .
The Asturian capital is hospitable and dynamic, a place where you can experience something different every day. It also boasts an intense cultural and commercial life.
Human in scale,it is an easy city to stroll around, with every corner holding an unexpected sensation: the Fontán market, a Pre-Romanesque fountain called La Foncalada, a cathedral with both a Gothic and a Romanesque tower, a historic town that has been a source of inspiration for writers such as Clarín and Pérez de Ayala, contemporary civil architecture and an intense cultural agenda that includes the opera season and the Princess of Asturias Awards Ceremony, among other major events.
That’s Oviedo… monastic and regal, on St James’ Way, a beacon of Christianity in the Late Middle Ages, which still safeguards among its relics a universal reference: the Holy Shroud.
But , Gijón – or Xixón – had already come into being some time before the Romans at the hands of a tribe of cauldron makers, who likewise lived a dream -that of metal-making- overlooking the sea, sealing Gijón’s fate as a city forever linked to metallurgy, coal, industry, science, energy and art.
Gijón was the first “Oscar-winning” Spanish city thanks to José Luis Garci, the film-maker with roots in Asturias, besides boasting the country’s first Institute of Navigation and Mineralogy, inspired by its Enlightenment scholar and statesman Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos .
With a fishing port and industrial docks as well as a marina, Gijón offers travellers a city with a unique “green” setting, featuring the Atlantic Botanical Gardens and Laboral, City of Culture with its Centre for Art and Industrial Creation.
That’s Gijón… Roman, metallurgical and oceanic in scope. As well as being a very open, fun and dynamic city with an Atlantic calling.