COVADONGA, HEART OF ASTURIAS
Cangas de Onís was the first capital of the Kingdom of Asturias from which most of the important symbols of the Principality originate and it is also one of the favourite places for tourism in the region.
Based at the foot of the Picos de Europa and an entrance to the “Royal Site” of Covadonga, Cangas de Onís is one of the main gateways into this mountainous region. From here you can also enjoy the beaches of the eastern coastline of Asturias as it is just a short journey away by car.
You can access Cangas de Onís from the Airport of Asturias or the Airport of Santander, the later being the closest.
Cangas de Onis is a lively town and there are lots of services to avail from. It is also quite an enchanting town with historic buildings, churches and palaces in very picturesque surroundings. At the entrance of Cangas you will see one of the most important symbols of the region, The Roman Style Bridge with the replica of the Victory Cross, which was declared a historic monument in 1931. Another place to visit is the Monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva which now functions as a luxury Parador hotel.
A short distance from Cangas de Onís is the religious sanctuary of Covadonga, which is considered to be one of the most important and historic locations when telling the story of Spain. It is here where King Pelayo managed to defeat the then ruling Moors (Circa 722AD) during the Battle of Covadonga and started the 770 year long campaign to recover the Iberian Peninsula back to Christian rule known as the “Reconquista”
Nowadays Covadonga is a place of pilgrimage for the devotees of the Virgin of Covadonga, known locally as “La Santina”. The statue of “la Santina” is housed in a Cave built into the rock surrounded by waterfalls. This together with the basilica which is a beautiful pink stone church makes this historic and religious site a place of peace, beauty and spirituality.
Covadonga is not only about religion or history; it is one of the main entrances to the stunning Picos de Europa. The Lakes of Covadonga and surrounding mountains where declared a National Park in 1918 which was one of the first dedicated national parks in Spain. The two lakes Enol and Ercina are great places for visitors to take in the wonderful landscapes of majestic mountains, valleys and meadows or, you can do a wide variety of sporting activities organized around this area. One of the most important peaks is the Peña Santa de Enol with a height of 2,476 metres. (8124 feet)
Due to it’s ideal location, Cangas de Onís is home to many outdoor pursuit companies who offer all kinds of sports and adventure activities such as trekking, mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, quads, horses riding, canoeing, spelunking, etc….. basically everything to cater for even the most adventurous of spirits no matter the age.
Also, the rivers and mountains of this area are ideal for fishing and hunting. The Rivers Sella and Gueña are very popular and recognized internationally for the quality and quantity of salmon and trout, amongst other fish.
Other places to visit in the area are The Cave of Buxu, with examples of Palaeolithic Art and many beautiful country towns.
From Cangas de Onís you can also drive to some of the most amazing places in Asturias such as The Beyos Route and the National Park of Ponga, or the very popular Cares Route. It is also recommended that you visit the towns of Onís or Cabrales where you will find good places to eat and relax. You can also travel from the Picos de Europa towards the coast and enjoy the amazing beaches of the eastern Asturias.
During the month of May the International Cycling Tour to the Lakes of Covadonga takes place with more than 3,000 participants cycling from Cangas de Onís to the Lakes of Covadonga.
The gastronomy of the area is a traditional fare of Asturian food with a lot of emphasis placed on local style casseroles, beef, fresh fish from the rivers, and organic vegetables. It is highly recommended to sample the local cheeses on offer such as Gamoneu cheese, Beyos Cheese or the most popular cheese in Asturias “Cabrales”, which is an intense and unique blue cheese of extraordinary quality.
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