Culture in Asturias What to see and what to do. #AsturiasCultural
Absorb the Asturian culture
Asturias's long and eventful history has become the guiding thread, allowing you to understand its heterogeneous culture. 200 million years ago, this land was inhabited by huge dinosaurs who left their footprints along the coastline. The first settlers lived in caves to protect themselves and the cave paintings are evidence of their emerging interest in art 22,000 years before our times. Belonging to the Castro culture were excavated circular constructions that can still be seen today in the fortified settlements in the west: Los Castros. You can visit the San Chuis settlements in Allande or Coaña.
Coaña Hill Fort.
Asturian Pre-Romanesque Art: Santa Maria de Naranco, San Miguel de Lillo...
Cave Art: Tito Bustillo and its Cave Art Centre (Ribadesella), La Peña (Candamo) and the Teverga Prehistory Park.
The Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias (Oviedo).
The Museum of the Asturian People (Gijón).
The Castros of Navia: Castro culture.
"Princess of Asturias" Awards.
The Kingdom of Asturias, founded in the middle of the Reconquista, converted the Principality into the heart of Europe, with a monarchy that promoted talent, finding its expression in a unique architectural style: Asturian pre-Romanesque Art that spread through many municipalities, from Oviedo to Villaviciosa, Lena, Pravia, Colunga, Santo Adriano... Churches, palaces and monasteries make up the Gothic and Baroque heritage, with the Oviedo Cathedral being the finest example. The industrial revolution changed again this skyline and left landscapes which in the 21st century, have reinvented themselves, giving rise to works such as the Centro Niemeyer, located right on the Avilés estuary.
A walk through the Asturian culture is a trip back in time through the centuries.
An excellent way to begin this trip is visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: caves exhibiting cave art, Pre-Romanesque Art and the northern routes of the Camino de Santiago. The caves and shelters whose walls are covered with pre-historic art can be found throughout the Principality and five of them enjoy the most prestigious international protected area status. These are Tito Bustillo (Ribadesella), Covaciella (Cabrales), Llonín (Peñamellera Alta), El Pindal (Ribadedeva) and La Peña (Candamo). This is the same for the pre-Romanesque buildings, which stand majestically in the landscape. Specifically, the buildings listed are those located in Oviedo and Lena. The northern ways to Santiago Compostela, the Coastal and the Primitive Route, have been the last to be added to the selective UNESCO-list, with their multiple options for the pilgrims and hidden gems of cultural heritage that appear on the edge of both routes, such as San Salvador de Priesca (Villaviciosa), Santa María de Soto de Luiña (Cudillero) and the San Salvador de Cornellana Monastery (Salas).
Travel back in time inside a cave
Between 22,000 and 10,000 years before our times, men lived in caves in the Ardines massif and left traces on the walls showing their way of life. The Tito Bustillo cave (Ribadesella) has some of the best-preserved cave paintings and is open to the public from March to October. Visits are organised in groups of 15 and you need to book in advance. In the 700-metre-long gallery, there are eleven sets of paintings. What stand out are the horses and reindeer. With the same entrance ticket, you can explore the Tito Bustillo Cave Art Centre, which popularises the visit, offering a modern approach to cave art.
Mills Museum (Taramundi).
It is impossible to understand the essence of this rich cultural tapestry without at least knowing a little bit about its ethnography.
Religious travellers are astounded by the gothic Cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo, which conserves the relics of Santo Sudario, the Cruz de la VIctoria and the Cruz de los Ángeles, and the legend of the goldsmith pilgrims who designed the piece for Alfonso II; and the cave and Basilica of Covadonga, a mountainous area of picturesque beauty in which the Virgin appeared before Pelayo and instilled him with the courage to begin the Reconquista.
Cathedral of San Salvador (Oviedo).
This list of must-see sites is endless, from magnificent monasteries like those in Corias, San Salvador de Cornellana or Santa María de Villanueva de Oscos, to theatres such as the Riera de Villaviciosa or palaces such as La Quinta de Selgas in El Pito, Cudillero, named the small Asturian Versailles.
Sanctuary of Covadonga (Cangas de Onís).
A hypnotic Museum of Fine Arts
More than 15,000 works, dated from the 14th century to the present, make up the biggest collection of art in the Principality, belonging to the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias. Paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs. Works from Dali to Goya, El Greco, Murillo, Tàpies, Barceló make up this open collection, which continues to grow thanks to acquisitions, grants and donations. The museum building is of great value in and of itself. It is made up three buildings, the Velarde Palace (18th century), the Oviedo-Portal House (17th century) and the award-winning extension by Patxi Mangado, opened in 2015.
Fine Arts Museum (Oviedo).
The museums and themed attractions evoke Asturias's musical, educational and economic history of a society that has known how to adapt without abandoning its roots. The Museum of the Asturian People, in Gijón: the Grandas de Salime Ethnographic Museum, the Os Teixois Ethnographic Site, in Taramundi; the Ethnographic Museum of Eastern Asturias, in Porrúa-Llanes; the Maritime Museum of Asturias, in Gozón; the exquisite building "Quinta Guadalupe" that houses the Indiano Archives-Emigration Museum Foundation, in Colombres; or the Rural School Museum of Asturias are some examples.
Indiano Archives Foundation (Ribadedeva)
Cultural activities taking place in the Principality are as rich and varied as its heritage. The opera season, from September to the start of following year, is a cornerstone of the annual programme of Oviedo's Campoamor Theatre, with top-class events and names. Similar to that is the Palacio Valdés Theatre in Avilés, an important venue for national events and a reference for theatre lovers. The programme ends in the city the Centro Niemeyer. In Gijón, as well as the International Film Festival, there is the line-up of the Jovellanos Theatre and the Laboral Theatre and Art and Industrial Creation Centre.
The Museum of the Asturian People (Gijón/Xixón).
The museum network is vast in terms of numbers and themes. Right in the heart of Oviedo you will find the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias, with its modern, award-winning extension. Not very far from here is the Archaeological Museum which takes us back into the prehistory and history of Asturias and the Historical Archive, located in the city's old prison. Another representative building, because of its location in the watchtower on the coastal plain its backdrop, is the MUJA, the Jurassic Museum of Asturias, a building constructed in the shape of a dinosaur footprint. The Pre-Romanesque Reception and Interpretation Centre, located in the old Naranco schools, accepts bookings for visits. The Teverga Prehistory Park is a very original project which holds a collection of reproductions of cave paintings.
Teverga Prehistory Park
Jurassic Museum of Asturias (Colunga).
A unique style in Europe
Twelve temples and three civil buildings, dated between the 8th and 10th centuries, make up the most complete and best-preserved set of architecture from the high medieval period in western Europe, with beautiful pieces of precious metal work. Its artistic and historical singularity has been recognised by UNESO since 1985. Buildings that enjoy this distinction are San Julián de los Prados, San Miguel de Lillo, Santa María del Naranco, the Holy Chamber de Oviedo, the Foncalada fountain and Santa Cristina de Lena.