Pola de Lena is called the”Gate of Asturias” because it is what you will first see as you are head north from the plains of Leon in Spain. This is quite an impressive journey, positioned at the border between Leon and Asturias in which you have to pass a tunnel called “El Negron” (The Black One) which is 4.1km in length. As you exit the tunnel you are welcomed by the magnificent and vibrant beauty of the Mountains of Guerna Valley which makes quite an impressive picture.
In this area you have two types of landscapes, one of impressive natural beauty and the other more industrial in its makeup reminding you of its mining heritage and long industrial history.
The Central Mountains offer a wealth of Natural and Protected Spaces, leafy Beech and Oak forests, green mountain pastures, narrow valleys and large meandering rivers.
This natural beauty is juxtaposed with examples of past and present mining activity as Slack-heaps, mine entrances, Headframes, worker’s housing, etc dot the landscape. This is a real cornucopia for those who have an interest in Industrial architecture and landscapes. Mining has moulded Asturias and plays a significant part in her story so it is worth while learning about this history as it will help to understand the local community a bit more.
The area is home to a wealth of stone monuments, megalithic structures, necropolis and old settlements. Pola de Lena also acts as a crossroads of two significant trading routes and for that reason the area is well marked by a mixture of many cultures. The two main routes that cross the territory are the Route of the Silver and the Route of Santiago.
The Route of the Silver is Roman in origin and crosses the peninsula from north to south starting in Gijon, Asturias, and finishing in Seville, Andalucía. This was built to facilitate commerce and legion movement. After that, the route was mainly used by shepherds who took their livestock to the greener pastures of Asturias during the summer.
The Route of Santiago is the other significant route of the area. This section is known as the “El Salvador Route” which enters Asturias through the Pajares Mountain pass and down into Oviedo ending up at the San Salvador Cathedral where the route connects with “Primitive Route”.
Pola de Lena is truly the gate to the Principado de Asturias. The council lies at the foot of the impressive Massifs of The Principado de Asturias and it is a real paradise for nature lovers.
The Ubiñas-La Mesa Natural Park has one of the most important peaks in Asturias called Peña Ubiña and with a height of 2,417 metres it is an absolute playground for rock and ice climbers. Also, you can find the Protected Landscapes of the Aramo Massiff. Here you will take in the beauty of these mountains at the view points of “Flor de Acebo” and the impressive “Alto L’Palo”.
Within the area of Pola de Lena you will find the Valgrande Forest, a paradise for lovers of trekking as it is the largest beech forest in Asturias and home of Asturian Bears, Wolfs and Capercaillies (A type of Grouse).
There are many important cultural places to visit in Pola de Lena including the very popular pre-Romanic Church of Santa Cristina de Lena declared a site of UNESCO Heritage, The Xomezana as an example of ethnography and tradition and the historic area of Las Puentes declared of cultural interest and made up of the Church of San Martin, the old Rectory and the Medieval bridge.
Pola de Lena is the start of many Routes and it is also part of the La Carisa Way which is one of the pre-historic routes that connected Asturias with the rest of the peninsula. It was the first road built and widely used by the Romans to accommodate safe passage for their carriages. You can still see some of the original road preserved as you travel along its route. The Roman camp of La Carisa is located on the Curriel peak and at 1,728metres, it was the highest Roman military camp in Europe and could house up to approx 10,000 men.
The area of Pola De Lena is a fantastic place to do any kind of sports and is well set up for trekking, mountaineering, climbing, skiing, fishing, mountain biking, quad biking, horse riding, spelunking, paragliding, etc.
Two of the most important sporting activities in the area are climbing and skiing and is home to the Winter Ski Resort of Valgrande Pajares, the largest ski station in Asturias.
The other main attraction Pola de Lena is the Gastronomy offering a Asturias traditional fare based on Stews, Asturian reared beef, fish from the rivers, cheeses and Asturian desserts but the toast of the region is the succulent splayed Lamb slow roasted over an outdoor fire pit. This is a very nice Asturian tradition known locally as “Corderu a la Estaca” and takes place throughout the summer months. A lot of towns host these parties but the one held in Lena, called the Party of “Prau Llaguezu” which is celebrated the first Sunday of July, is the most popular and best organized one in Asturias. This party is declared of International Cultural Interest.
More info: Pola de Lena Tourist Office
If you want more information contact Where is Asturias at firstname.lastname@example.org
Images supplied by Tomás Fano, Ayto de Pola de Lena, Montana Central and Turismo Asturias: Arnaud Spani.