Cangas de Onis, Asturias, Spain
If you are thinking about visiting the region of Asturias in northern Spain, there is no better place to base yourself than Cangas de Onis. This very pretty town is situated in a valley between two rivers, and set against a stunning backdrop of forest and mountains.
With only one main street, this is where most of the shops are located, and a delightful square filled with small bars and restaurants is the central focal point. The most prominent feature in town is the Roman bridge that was declared a site of Historic and Artistic interest in 1931. Puente Sobra el rio Sella was used during Roman times to cross the Sella River. The current construction dates back to the medieval period, and over the central arch is a reproduction of the famous Victory Cross. The original Cross is made of a precious metal and dates back to the 10th century. Today it is kept in the Oviedo Cathedral.
The original Chapel of Santa Cruz was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War and later re-constructed. The only original feature that remains is the fountain stone, which dates back to 737AD. Consecrated by King Favila during the 8th century, the chapel is considered to be the first Christian church since the Moors invasion. During the re-construction an interesting discovery was made. A perfectly preserved dolmen no less than 3,000 years old was found, with rock paintings inside the burial chamber.
Cangas de Onis is only a half hour drive from the coast. Along the way there are many interesting little villages that you can explore. From town, there are excursions available that will take you to the lakes up in the mountains. You can also hire quad bikes or go canoeing. In fact, every year in August is the international canoeing descent down the Sella River.
Not far away is the village of Covadonga which is the gateway into the Picos de Europa National Park. Inside the park there are amazing trails where you can go horseback riding or mountain biking. Covadonga was the scene for an infamous historic battle, as this is where King Pelayo began his re-conquest.
The Basilica was where pilgrims came to worship La Santina and inside are great works of art such as a painting by Madrazo. In the cave next to the Basilica are the tombs of King Pelayo and King Alfonso I who were laid to rest next to the statue of La Santina. There is a spring that flows from the cave and feeds into a fountain with seven spouts. The gold panel above the alter represents the battle that took place in Covadonga.
Cangas de Onis has a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. There are always popular events and festivities taking place throughout this region, which also add to the atmosphere. The town of Nava hosts a contest to find the best cider, and Cabrales and Beyos holds cheese contests. The two most prominent festivals include San Antonio’s Pastor Feast in La Vega de Enol in June, and the Feast of Nuestra Senora de Covadonga, the Patron Saint of Asturias, is held in September.
Not short of things to enjoy if you choose to come to Cangas de Onis, it also offers rather special accommodation. The Parador Cangas de Onis (Hotel Monasterio de San Pedro de Villanueva) is this luxurious four star hotel that was once a 12 century monastery declared a National Monument. What a better way to enjoy your stay should you choose to visit this delightful town.