Oviedo is one of those cities I immediately felt connected with. When (last february) I started to discover the asturian capital, I could feel some joy, growing and growing every day, until it culminated into a sense of fondness and devotion that is kept these days.
Oviedo is one of those perfect cities: it’s very clean and truly alive; it has a lot of green spaces and a rich heritage; it is close to a series of national parks and just a few km from the beaches of the Cantabrian coast.
When I started to roam the wide sidewalks from the train station to the Old Town I was smiling and it was a great pleasure to discover the local city park, San Francisco. Composed of diverse types of trees and pathways, a library and sports facilities, San Francisco park even has a statue of Mafalda, the comic character developed by Quino.
This unexpected encounter made me remember a similar statue I found in the streets of Buenos Aires and it was the first of a series of interesting encounters. In fact, Oviedo has nearly one hundred statues spread over the city: from local figures to well-known artists like Woody Allen (who directed some of my favorite movies).
As I kept walking, I felt more and more immersed in the local buzz. Usually when I’m discovering a city, I just follow the steps taken by the locals… and it was, in fact, a great way to find the Fontan square (one of the local’s landmarks), and two of the most important markets.
The Fontan market, a must see thanks to its historical building, is the right place to find some of the most typical asturian products, like cheese and seafood; and then, the outdoor market in front of San Feliz palace, undoubtedly, one of the liveliest places of Oviedo, as a lot of locals attend there to buy fruits and vegetables, find new clothes or simply take a chitchat.
Oviedo’s Old Town is small compared to the amount of heritage it has. In a few steps, I vagabonded to the Constitution square where I found the impressive building of the City Hall and the San Isidoro el Real church, opened in the XVI century.
It’s easy to be lost in these cobblestone streets. And it’s even easier to discover something new and interesting: it was this way that I discovered the Cathedral of Oviedo, an important pilgrim site thanks for being the original point of reference to the sacred road of St James Compostela.
Oviedo is not a big city but, probably inspired by the way to Compostela, I walked a lot (like I always do). One afternoon I rambled to the west side of the city to see the Palace of Exhibitions and Congresses that became, itself, an architecture icon of the city.
Located in Buenavista area, close to Llamaquique train station, this HUGE building was designed by Santiago Calatrava and, personally speaking, looks kind of inharmonious in a residential quiet area (you can check with my photos!).
As the sun sets in the horizon, Oviedo turns more relaxed and people occupy the streets. And Oviedo has an explosive mix: it’s a student’s city and the capital of cider.
One of the local highlights is Calle Gascone, considered the ‘Cider boulevard’, thanks to the amount of taverns that serve local dishes and cider keeping the traditional method: a waiter holds the bottle as high as he possibly can in one hand and then the glass down low with the other.
I had a lot of fun letting myself go through the night! One of my best discoveries was Santa Ana street, one of the most vibrant areas, thanks to the alternative bars and discos, but also to the Umbrella square.
I have to tell you all, Umbrella square became my favorite spot in Oviedo. It has the sculpture of an open umbrella in its center and then it is surrounded by a few bars and an open amphitheater, working as a meeting point.
Another plus of Umbrella square is the literary coincidence I found: in the surrounding street called Ecce Homo there´s a tribute to the local writer and academic Armando Palacio Valdés. I tried to discover if, in the origin of this toponymy, was the Nietzsche’s book but no, it was based in the catholic religion.
Anyway Oviedo is a striking city and, if I manage to return to Asturias, I’ll definitely revisit this city and come to the Umbrella square to drink a local cider and read a book, whether it was written by Nietzsche or Valdés.
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