If you have come to northern Spain in search of flamenco, women with embroidered shawls, sangria or any other “typical” Spanish custom or object, you will leave disappointed. Most traditions associated with Spain come from the southern Andalusia region. And Asturias and its neighboring regions are a world away.
Celtic Asturias Spain
Northwestern Spain has deep Celtic roots which it prides itself own and cherish. The undulating green hills and rocky cliffs abutting the raging sea will remind you more of Scotland or Ireland than of the Costa del Sol. So too will the food heavy on lamb and beef. You will see half-timbered houses and hear the constant honk of the gaita. The gaita is Spain’s own homegrown version of the bagpipe whose music wafts through the air and soul of Asturias.
Town and country
Unlike other parts of Spain, Asturias is mostly rural featuring only three real cities: the capital Oviedo and the port cities of Gijon and Aviles. Gijon is the largest of these and counts many beaches and a walkable old quarter among its highlights. Oviedo, however, is the place to look for culture and history.
But while you are in Asturias, go explore the countryside. The famous Camino de Santiago pilgrim’s trail transverse the region and there are mountains, secluded beaches, numerous rivers to raft and enchanting villages. You will see horreos everywhere. These grain and food storage sheds are made of wood and elevated on stone pillars to keep out rodents and other pests.
The birth of a nation
Modern, Christian Spain arose from a resistance to Moorish occupation. This had its start in a cave located at the present day Asturian town of Covadonga. You can visit the cave and make offering in the chapel sitting inside it clinging to the side of a rock face. There is also cathedral on site.