What seemed a short distance on the map (64km) it was, quite an exhausting road, that took more time then it should. My advice, if you are doing the same road from Riano to Cangas, don’t get yourself tired before you hit the road…
The small town of Cangas de Onis is a preferred place for most tourists because is a great place to camp before going hiking or visiting other magnificent places. In fact this article it has just a few images of Cangas itself. Cangas is not so expensive (but twice as much than Riano or Oviedo) and you really have to book a hotel very early. My advice, later in this article.
The area I am about to present is the following:
Quite obviously we will start with no 1. => Cangas de Onis.
The town is small and it has 2 rivers that set the limits of this place. Because of that, finding a place to eat, or yet alone, park the car, will not be easy in full touristic session. That is why the municipality decided to let people park in the schoolyard next to an iconic monument, of the Asturian history.
Fish in the rivers => clean water.
Now if you search this town on Google, most likely you will get an image like the one I did, see below. It is a bridge that dates back to the XIII-th century and it does look like a Roman bridge because it shares that type of architecture. To get here, you will have to jump a few rocks so don’t take all you gear with you.
Cangas de Onis, until the year 774 BC, it was the first capital of the Kingdom Asturias. And it was from here that, King Don Pelayo ruled and not too far from here, in 772 he won the battle against the Muslims at Battle of Covadonga. (wiki)
This monastery dates back to 737 BC, built by the second King of Asturias, Favila. Of course, since then it was fully rebuilt due to Spanish Civil Wars… and also on modern days. The chapel sits on pagan dolmen, that can be seen if you enter, and look down thru the circular floor. ( it was closed on that day)
Another image of this beautiful historical monument.
Among the many tourists, they were also many lizards, quite accustomed to humans.
Speaking of wildlife, in this region (Asturias) the brand is the white with black spots cow. Most milk products in Spain (also here in Vigo) come from this region. Merchandise stores can be found everywhere with products that show those cute cows or wildlife. I myself got a beautiful t-shirt that features various wildlife animals and a bottle of Sidra.
If you ask someone where to go make photos of animals in the wilderness, most likely they will tell you to visit one of the many natural reservations that they have. They sell guides of where to find them (in Spanish) or what to do if you are not lucky. Such activity is the canoe, down the river. And there are hundreds that do that (at least when I was there).
The town hall.
Next, we go to see the Enol Lake at Covadonga. Circle number 2. The road is good, and not so crowded, but parking places are a nightmare. In fact, you cannot go to the mountain lake yourself, you have to take the bus. So yeah, good luck finding a place to leave your car…
Next one up is where to take the bus?
We searched the place to buy the tickets and there they said is not ok to do so, since once we get there, in 10 min we have to take back the last bus… So yeah I did not get to see the Enol Lake. (have to redo the trip for this too)
So, to do not lose the whole trip here, we walked to a chapel that was built on the mountain. And the mood of the place resembles with the one at Sintra, with rich forests, hidden bridges, houses that are hidden by the trees, lots of stairs to climb up and down, clean alleys and many birds that fill the air (where there is no bus to make noise)
Santa Cueva de Covadonga. There are many stories about it, and as can be seen from my picture (see below) there are many tourists who came to this sacred place. In fact, before Christianism here was pagan worship place, the Sacred Fountain, and Cave, so people coming here, is a really old habit.
This place is also connected to the creation of the Kingdom of Asturias, as here once Pelagius came chasing a criminal. The hermit that was inside said to forgive the criminal that takes shelter here under the protection of the Virgin. Him also one day will have to do the same. And as a matter of fact, the future king will take shelter in this cave, and with the help of the Virgin Mary, the Muslims will be defeated, marking the beginning of Christianisation of Spain.
The first chapel was built later of, in wood and it took fire, and a new one was built by the Cathedral of Oviedo, in stone, the one we see today.
Of course, with Christianism cult place, comes pagan traditions, so the bottom of the lake is filled with money. Also as another habit, this place is filled with merchandise.
For me, the most beautiful sight (after seeing Riano) is Basílica de Santa María la Real de Covadonga. As you climb on the forest or from the road, (like I said, it has the mood of Sintra) the basilica it beautifully uncovers itself with its rose-orange bricks (pink limestone). It has a little over 117 years and it sits on the place of an old church dedicated also to the Holy Cave, that also was burned during big fire.
Image of one of the lions that mark (from the roadside) the royal meaning of this place.
Next, I took the phone out and looked up for a viewpoint over the most interesting mountain peek I have ever seen. Picu Urriellu.
To get there (circle 3), you have to get back to the main road, head toward Torrelavega and stop between Carrena and Poo villages (some 40 min of drive)
In the image below we can see (to the right) the typical Asturian house, mounted on 4 stone pillars. There are many to be seen throughout the region, but this one was alive, and not in a museum.
The road is very beautiful with high mountains on each side. It reminded me of the routes I play on Train Simulators -> Semmering, Austria.
This is not the highest peak of the mountain range, but on this view it is. It reaches 2,529 meters in altitude and in this area are one of the deepest caves in the world. Just look at his shape… It is featured on Sidra bottles, on cheese, pins, books, coffee, orange… It is a recognizable symbol of Asturias region.
What I did not know, at the time (but later at the hotel), is that close to this position, at Camarmena town, there is a funicular that goes higher in the mountain range, granting a more beautiful view. So check that one out on the map and drive there. (another thing to do if I come in this region again…)
As the sun was setting down, we had to hit the road, back to Cangas de Onis, and from there to the hotel, eat (since we have not done that since Riano) and sleep.
But first, a quick stop at the Gas station and a quick photo of the sun, setting down over the mountains and hills.
Palacio de Rubianes, is the first hotel I stood in, that deserves to make pictures. Is an old estate, surrounded by golf courses, mountain range, and tranquility.
In the pictures below we can see the beautifully restored architecture that is unique to each room. In most situations, in which I was visiting a palace, I would see many signs of “do not touch or do not seat”. But this time, it was in my room, and I could not just touch, but also seat next to the window and read the morning news. (or browse on my tablet).
It was here that I drunk and poured myself the first Sidra glass.
Sidra is an Asturian alcoholic drink, that taste like a table wine, is made out of apples, is not at all sweet and it comes in a dark green bottle (for my Romanian counterparts: are gust de vin sec, dar mai mult aduce a Borș. Nu e de mirare ca se fac multe ciorbe si alte preparate cu el).
In order to pour it into the glass, you have to raise the bottle above your head and put the glass below the waist region. Pour the Sidra from this height and it will catch air, becoming fuzzy (acid). Pour not more than 2 fingers of the glass, so do not let the drink become “asleep”.
Here are two images from the Iphone with my first try on pouring:
Sidra is very good if you combine it with meat, cheese, and other rather salted products. It goes also with just cigarettes.
If you do want to book in here, you will find the price much lower than in Cangas (but twice the one in Oviedo) and if you book early on, for a period that is not high season, you will not regret it, not even a bit.
The road to the palace is sadly almost one way only. I do not know how can two cars ever fit on it… We had luck because we came at the hour when Spanish people eat, and we left in the morning when Spanish people sleep.
This also allowed me to take some extra photos of this beautiful place.
For now, I will end this article as such:
In my room, at the hotel, there was a book on the region of Asturias. On the cover, there was a cave painting of an animal being hunted with spears. I googled it and I could barely fall to sleep, waiting for that tomorrow I would go and see with my own eyes, one of the most interesting archeological findings, on our continent.
See you next week,