The proud town of Cangas de Onís is one whose name is familiar for everybody in Spain.
Not far from here happened one of the most important moment in Spain’s history, when Don Pelayo held back the advancing troops of the muslims around 722. The people of Asturias were so happy that they quickly crowned him and in turn he made Cangas de Onís the capital of Spain where the ‘reconquista’ started. It was only a capital for about 40 years but no Asturian can forget the prestige of that short time.
Nowadays the town, apart from its history, is better known by its location. It lies only a few kilometres away from Asturias’ highest mountains, the Picos de Europa and the Natural Park that was named after them. It lies in a valley that was formed by two rivers and is one of the two main gateways to the Natural Park. It retained little from its former glory and today the main street is lined endlessly with souvenir shops however there are a few points of (my) interest.
The Roman Bridge of Cangas de Onís
This bridge is the most distinctive feature of the town and one of the most well-known symbols of the whole region of Asturias. It dates back to the end of the 13th century, has a Romanesque style and the Victory Cross hangs from its highest arch (in a reproduction form, of course).
The statue of Don Pelayo
He’s the hero whose name is all around Asturias, from cafes to street names, everywhere. I simply had to take a photo of this amazing celebrity. If you can’t see him ‘in person’, fear not, the small reproduction of this statue can be bought from any souvenir shop in the region.
La Capilla de la Santa Cruz
The Chapel of the Saint Cross was founded by Favila, the daughter of the above mentioned Don Pelayo. The church was dedicated to the holding of the Saint Cross, the same one that her daddy was holding while beating up the moors and the one that later become the Cross of Victory (read more about the legend here).
The blog would not be whole without mentioning the village of Covadonga. This is the place where the famous battle took place and where the remains of King Pelayo are kept. It is only a few kilometres away from Cangas and the other gateway to the National Park. We didn’t have the time to look around much, however the Covadonga Cathedral demanded our attention. It was built on a large terrace high above the line of the trees in such a place that the sun lights it up when it rises and also when it goes down.