- Calle San Vicente 3.
- Tel: 985 21 54 05.
Plaza de la Constitución 4, Tel: 984 08 60 60 .
Thu, Sat & Sun.
San Mateo (14–21 Sep).
Oviedo, a university city and the cultural and commercial capital of Asturias, stands on a raised site on a fertile plain. The nearby coal mines have made it an important industrial centre since the 19th century. It retains some of the atmosphere of that time, as described by Leopoldo Alas (“Clarín”) in his great novel La Regenta .
In and around Oviedo are many Pre-Romanesque buildings. This style flourished in the 8th–10th centuries and was confined to a small area of the kingdom of Asturias, one of the few enclaves of Spain not invaded by the Moors.
The nucleus of the medieval city is the stately Plaza Alfonso II, bordered by a number of handsome old palaces. On this square is situated the Flamboyant Gothic cathedral with its high tower and asymmetrical west façade. Inside are tombs of Asturian kings and a majestic 16th-century gilded reredos. The cathedral’s supreme treasure is the Cámara Santa, a restored 9th-century chapel containing statues of Christ and the apostles. The chapel also houses many works of 9th-century Asturian art including two crosses and a reliquary – all made of gold, silver and precious stones.
Also situated in the Plaza Alfonso II is the Iglesia de San Tirso . This church was originally constructed in the 9th century, but subsequent restorations have left the east window as the only surviving Pre-Romanesque feature.
Sited behind the cathedral is the Museo Arqueológico , housed in the old Benedictine monastery of San Vicente, with its fine cloisters. It contains local prehistoric, Romanesque and Pre-Romanesque treasures.
The Museo de Bellas Artes , in Velarde Palace, has a good range of Asturian and Spanish paintings, such as Carreño’s portrait of Carlos II and others by Greco, Goya, Dalí, Miró and Picasso.
Two of the most magnificent Pre-Romanesque churches are on Mount Naranco, to the north. Santa María del Naranco has a large barrel-vaulted hall on the main floor and arcaded galleries at either end. Some of the intricate reliefs on the door jambs of the nearby San Miguel de Lillo show acrobats and animal tamers in a circus.
The early 9th-century church of San Julián de los Prados stands on the road leading northeast out of Oviedo. The largest of Spain’s surviving Pre-Romanesque churches, it is noted for the frescoes which cover all of its interior.
This church, on Mount Naranco, was originally built as a summer palace for Ramiro I in the 9th century. It is one of the finest examples of Pre-Romanesque or Asturian architecture, a style characterized by the slender proportions of its buildings and their original and graceful ornamentation.
The Hall has an unusually high ceiling.
Arcaded galleries at both ends of the building were designed to let in an enormous amount of light and were an architectural innovation.
Columns carved with soqueado or rope effect, were typical of the Pre-Romanesque style.
Vaultings of this size were a technical achievement and not adopted throughout Europe until the 11th century.