Friday, October 15, 2010

Oviedo, Asturias {Part I of VI}

For my recent 4-day roadtrip, I've decided to take one of the recommended routes from Frommer's guide book that is described as ''The Green Belt of Asturias''.

On Day 1, we headed north from Madrid, passing León before entering into the Kingdom of Asturias. The first stop was the capital city, Oviedo.

Oh boy was it a charming City of Statues! Oviedo resembles a huge outdoor museum adorned with statues & sculptures every corner you turn. It also has an interesting historical center where most of the city's most significant buildings can be found. Strolling around the city center was really pleasant and it was easy connecting to the urban districts through its many plazas.

{If you have watched the film 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' by Woody Allen, you might find some of the photos familiar as you recall that Oviedo was where Juan Antonio whisked his two female american friends to for an indulgent weekend of unadulterated spanish cultural immersion ;) }

Above: Cathedral of the Holy Saviour (Catedral de San Salvador) at Plaza de Alfonso II.

Above: The Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) of Oviedo located on Plaza de la Constitución.

Above: Next to the Town Hall, is the Church of San Isidro el Real.

Above: Mercado del Fontán, just behind the Chuch of San Isidro.
I simply adore the traditional iron & glass structure of the market!

Above: The arcaded Plaza del Fontán. It's so lovely!

Above: Sculpture entitled La Maternidad, by Fernando Botero, located at Plaza de Escandalera.

Above: Sculpture of Woody Allen, by Asturian sculptor Vicente Menéndez-Santarúa Prendes.

You might find it surprising that Woody Allen is immortalised in the form of a life size statue on the streets of Oviedo. Well so did the cast members of Vicky Cristina Barcelona as they chanced upon it one night while exploring the city after filming.

Apparently the American screen writer was awarded 'Prince of Asturias for the Arts' prize in 2002 and his statue was erected to honour him. Pity though, that time and time again, vandals seem to have an obession with prying off his spectacles. Look closer and you'd see that Woody is sin gafas.

Above: The Campoamor Theatre, which incidently is the venue for the annual Prince of Asturias Award ceremonies.

Above: Sculpture entitled Culis Monumentalibus, by Eduardo Úrculo.
Folks, it is what it looks like. Beyond this point is Oviedo's shopping zone.

Now a couple of other must-see sites away from the city center are located on Mount Naranco, 10 minutes drive away. Go back 12 centuries as you visit two of Oviedo's most important religious monuments built on the slopes of the mountain - The Church of Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Above: View of the city of Oviedo, from the slopes of Mount Naranco.

Above: The Church of Santa María del Naranco

Originally, this was meant to be a recreational palace for King Ramiro I of Asturias when he goes hunting in the area. Subsequently, the slender, 2 storey pre-Romanasque building was converted into a church to honour St. Mary when the original one (currently known as San Miguel de Lillo) collasped in the 13th century.

The building is not huge at all, but believe me, for some reason it looked arresting sitting on the open grass field. Just one of those sights that I'll remember for a long time.

A stone's throw away is the reconstructed Church of San Miguel de Lillo.

Above: San Miguel de Lillo

Wait, Day 1 is not over yet! Reluctantly leaving the city of Oviedo, I continued further up north of Asturias...

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