The Sanctuary of Covadonga – cradle of Spain

Covadonga (Asturian: Cuadonga) is one of 11 parishes in Cangas de Onís, a municipality within the autonomous community of Asturias, in Northwestern Spain. It is situated in the Picos de Europa mountains. With a permanent population of 60, it consists essentially of the “Real Sitio de Covadonga”/”Real Sitiu de Cuadonga” also known as the “cradle of Spain”, a pilgrimage site dedicated to Our Lady of Covadonga/Cuadonga and commemorating the Battle of Covadonga of 718/722.

Our Lady of Covadonga also named “La Santina” is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the name of a Marian shrine devoted to her. A statue of the Virgin Mary, hidden in one of the caves, was believed to have miraculously aided the Christian victory.

Our Lady of Covadonga is the co-patron of Asturias, and a basilica was built to house the current statue. Her feast day is 8 September, as it is also the autonomic day of Asturias.

The Sanctuary of Covadonga is a monument divided into:

Basílica de Santa María la Real de Covadonga, that was designated as basilica on September 11, 1901.

The temple was designed by the German architect Roberto Frassinelli and built between 1877 and 1901 by architect Federico Aparici y Soriano. It is a Neo-Romanesque church made entirely of pink limestone.

The Santa Cueva de Nuestra Señora de Covadonga is a Catholic sanctuary cave. The origin of the cave as place of cult is controversial.

The first construction in the Holy Cave dates back of the reign of Alfonso I of Asturias, who, to commemorate the victory of Pelagius to the Muslims, built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, that would give rise to the invocation of the Our Lady of Covadonga (popularly known as La Santina). In addition to the altar dedicated to the Virgin, two others were built for Saint John the Baptist and Saint Andrew. Alfonso presented this church to the Benedictine monks.

The cave was covered with wood, and in 1777 a fire destroyed the medieval Marian statue. The current wooden image of Virgin and Child dates to the 16th century and was donated to the sanctuary by the Cathedral of Oviedo in 1778.

The Royal Collegiate church of San Fernando is a collegiate church. It was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1884. It is the oldest building in the Sanctuary of Covadonga and is located next to the Holy Cave.

How to get to?

From Oviedo 1 hr 10 min (81.1 km) via N-634

From Gijón 1 hr 8 min (83.6 km) via N-634

From Madrid 5 hr 7 min (514 km) via A-6

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