The History of Asturias – Part 1

Asturias may not be the most famous region of Spain but that does not mean it is not steeped in history and has a rich culture and tradition. The peoples of this part of northern Spain are friendly and happy to see visitors who make the effort to come and see them.

Northern Spain has its own unique identity, its rugged Atlantic coastline is dramatic in the extreme and so different to the holiday Costas further to the south. Not many international travelers come to this part of Spain but they are missing out on a great experience. Asturias is crammed full of high limestone peaks, lush forests, verdant green meadows, orchards, waterfalls, springs, lakes, great rivers, and vast grazing lands, a veritable natural paradise.

Ancient Asturias

One thousand years ago there was a kingdom which became the principality of Asturias. This kingdom was to have thirteen kings the first notably being Pelayo and the last was Alfonso III. Alfonso was known as the Great Alfonso as he was much loved and respected for his deeds and actions. In between these two great kings is nearly a century and a half of history, which defined the area of Asturias as we know it today. There were great battles which helped forge the Iberian Peninsula, as well as modern Spain. Out of all this change and upheaval grew Asturias which became the first Christian kingdom in this part of the peninsular.

The Remnants of Time Gone By

There are reminders of the ancient history of Asturias all over the region, and the most prominent is the art of Asturias which is also commonly known as Pre-Romanesque art and has been declared as World Heritage by UNESCO. The lineage of Spanish nobility is richly connected with this part of Spain and goes back as far as the 14th Century. Asturias and this part of northern Spain is the area that has the closest links to the present Spanish monarchy and goes back to ancient times.

A Rural History

Between the 14th and 20th Centuries, Asturias is best known as a rural area. With many farms, fishing villages and vineyards comprising the commerce for the region. But it is not just backwater without culture, the great medieval towns and cities such as Aviles, Gijon, and Oviedo are steeped in history and culture. Dotted along the Atlantic coast there are almost twenty quaint fishing villages and over two hundred delightful beaches that are surrounded by towering rugged cliffs. The landscape is as varied as its history and Asturias is all the more unique because of this.

Asturias also has a rich industrial past, with mining playing a significant part of its history. And many of its vineyards have followed old mining paths and trails. The food and wine of Asturias reflect the landscape with the region producing fine boutique wines and hearty cuisine such as sausage and bean stews and fish casseroles. In part two of our blog about the history of Asturias we continue our investigation to discover more historical gems from northern Spain.