Continuing our journey back in time to discover the rich history of Asturias we look just how this great principality grew from its medieval roots into the culturally diverse region that it is today. Asturias is squeezed between the Bay of Biscay in the north to the Cantabrian mountains to the south. Asturias is situated between Castile and Leon with the rivers Deva and Eo marking a boundary with Cantabria and Galicia. Asturias is split up into 78 boroughs, and the main cities are Gijon and Aviles with its capital being Oviedo.
History Through Art
One of the best ways to learn about any culture is through its art, and Asturias is no exception. The art of Asturias is unique to this part of Spain, the earliest examples are Palaeolithic cave art which can be found in the area. This art not only shows that there were people living in the region during that time, but also depicts what they actually did. The best examples of cave drawing are to be found in five caves that have now been recognized as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
Much of Asturias ancient past was chronicled by medieval monks dating back to the 9th Century during King Alfonso II time. There is a record of a particular journey that the king took from Oviedo to visit the tomb of Saint James. This pilgrimage route is now named the Way of St James and this famous journey probably did not have the significance for the king as it now has today. Alfonso II became the first pilgrim to ever walk to Santiago de Compestela, which has now become one of the most spiritual paths in the world today.
The Kingdom of Coal
Asturias has a long history with mining and coal. The natural carbon deposits of the ancient Iberian kingdom have helped many cultures and communities to live in the area since the ice age. The coal has been coveted for fuel by many including the Romans, and in later years the mineral brought great wealth to the region. Later on in its history, Asturias became a steel producer which has left its own special legacy on social and cultural heritage of Asturias.
The Wilderness of Asturias
Part of the history of this area of Spain has nothing to do with mankind, in some parts of Asturias it is the landscape and animals that define the Iberian peninsular. The remote and rugged coastline together with the rich and varied hinterland are a playground for all manner of wild beasts and birds. It is still common to find wild wolves and boars roaming around the forests, together with an incredible array of marine birds that nest in the lofty cliffs. In a way such a varied wildlife defines what Asturias is all about, even in this modern world Asturias still has links firmly back to its medieval past.
When choosing your next trip abroad, you should seriously consider this hidden gem of Spain. It represents a time long gone in its ancient towns and cities and is a wild and unspoiled adventure playground.