Gijón – the capital of the Green Coast

Gijón or Xixón (Asturian) is a city and municipality in north-western Spain. It is the largest city and municipality by population in the autonomous community of Asturias.

It is located on the coast of the Cantabrian Sea in the Bay of Biscay, in the central-northern part of Asturias. A popular part of the Atlantic resorts of Spain.

Since its foundation in Roman times, its development has been linked to that of its port, which is currently the leader in solid bulk movements in Spain. Until recently, Gijón had an eminently industrial character, which favored the great growth of the 19th and 20th centuries.

However, in recent decades, the crisis in the steel industry and the naval sector have led to the reconversion of its productive fabric, which has transformed the city into a tourist, university, commercial and R + D + i center. Thus, in addition to having a municipal network of museums, it houses the cultural complex of the Labor University, a university campus and a science-technology park.

The city is known par excellence as the “capital of the Green Coast – Costa Verde” and is also the capital of the maritime province of Gijón.

Through the council runs the Camino de Santiago on its coastal route and the Consultative Council of the Principality of Asturias, the Radiotelevision of the Principality of Asturias and the Comprehensive Maritime Safety Center for Maritime Rescue are based there.

Main attractions

Civil architecture

The Palacio de Revillagigedo (or the Marqués de San Esteban de Natahoyo) is a palace located in the Cimadevilla neighborhood, it forms a single complex with the San Juan collegiate church. It is a remarkable example of 18th century Asturian palatial architecture. In 1974 it was declared a Site of Cultural Interest.

Both the palace and the Collegiate Church of San Juan belong to the Caja de Ahorros de Asturias Banking Foundation and house the Liberbank Palacio de Revillagigedo Cultural Center.

The adjoining chapel, with collegiate status, was completed fifteen years later than the palace and is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Also in the Baroque style, it follows the same ornamentation and design as the rest of the buildings. The financing was provided by the prior of the Oviedo Cathedral Luis Ramírez de Valdés, uncle of the Marquis. In addition to Menéndez Camina, the architect from Gijón, Pedro Muñiz Somonte, collaborated in the work and made the roofs and the tower.

The Jovellanos Theater is a theater located on the Paseo de Begoña although it originally stood on the nearby Jovellanos street, in the location currently occupied by the city’s public library until it was destroyed during the fighting that took place in the 1934 revolt.

The Gijón Labor University is located in the municipality of Gijón, specifically in the Cabueñes parish, just over three kilometers from the urban center. Built between 1946 and 1956, it is the most important architectural work carried out in the 20th century in Asturias. It is, with its 270,000 m², the largest building in Spain.

It has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest with the category of Monument since 2016.

Real Instituto Jovellanos is the name of one of the oldest educational centers in Spain. It was created in Gijón by Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos as one of the illustrated projects that he carried out in the Principality of Asturias. The idea of creating an educational center that would train in mining and marine science arose in the midst of the projects related to the exploitation of mines that were beginning to open in the coal deposits of the Asturian mining basin, together with the construction of a highway that join with the port of Gijón (El Musel, whose creation he also proposed).

The “Jovellanos” Public Library is the State Public Library in Gijón whose management was transferred to the Autonomous Community of the Principality of Asturias in 1986.

Originally, it was the library of the institute founded by Jovellanos in Gijón in 1794 and it kept his famous collection of drawings and his personal library. Since its foundation, the Library has occupied the same building of the Institute, on Jovellanos street, and, from 1858, it was also considered a public library by virtue of the Decree of July 17.

The town hall of Gijón is the headquarters building of the city council of the Spanish city of Gijón. The project was commissioned in 1858 to Andrés Coello, but underwent modifications by Luis Céspedes and Lucas María Palacios. The work began in 1861. By mid-1865 the town hall was practically finished. The building, with a porticoed gallery, forms a cubic volume of 3 floors.

The Sindical House or House of the People of Gijón is a building located on Calle Sanz Crespo, next to the Jardines del Tren de la Libertad in the Laviada neighborhood. It is owned by the Ministry of Labor. It currently houses the headquarters of the CNT, CSI, CGT and CCOO unions.

Designed by the Somolinos brothers and Enrique Álvarez Sala, its plan was based on the premises of the Modern Movement, following the ideas of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus school.

Religious architecture

The church of San José is a Catholic temple built during the 20th century on Álvarez Garaya street. The temple replaces another one destroyed in the Civil War very close to the current building. The first church was built between 1893 and 1897 following a project by the architect Nicolás García Rivero. The current one is the work of Enrique Rodríguez Bustelo, and was built between 1946 and 1954 in neo-baroque style. Despite its historicist appearance,  modern materials were used for its construction: reinforced concrete and lead-covered ceramics in the central vault, artificial stone in the coverings.

The Church of San Lorenzo is a Catholic temple built at the beginning of the 20th century on Calle Cabrales. The building was designed by the architect Luis Bellido y González and is in the Neo-Gothic style. The ceremony of laying the first stone took place on August 23, 1896, although the foundation works had not to begin until January 1897. The consecration of the temple was celebrated on August 9, 1901.

The sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Contrueces is a Catholic temple located in the southern part of the urban area of Gijón, in the neighborhood of Contrueces. It is an important icon in the history of Gijón, since the Virgin that is venerated in this temple was considered by most of the people of Gijón for many years as the patron saint of the city. The first documents that attest to the existence of this church date from the beginning of the 10th century.

The church of San Pedro is a Catholic temple located in Campo Valdés, at one end of the beach of San Lorenzo and at the foot of the Cimadevilla neighborhood. It was the only parish church in the town until 1893. The current church, built between 1945 and 1955 after the destruction of the previous 15th century building during the Civil War, follows a project by the architects Francisco and Federico Somolinos. Originally Gothic in style and with numerous later additions, it is currently in a historicist style inspired by Asturian Romanesque and pre-Romanesque.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a temple popularly known as La Iglesiona and located in front of the Real Instituto Jovellanos. It was built in 1918 under the negotic and modernist style, and was used as a prison during the Spanish Civil War.

Museums

The Museum of the Asturian People (Asturian: Muséu del Pueblu d’Asturies) is an open-air artspace containing Asturian popular art installations, large ethnographic items, and three buildings:

  • Casa de los Valdes: temporary exhibition space
  • Casa de los González de la Vega: site of the International Bagpipe Museum, including a collection of traditional Asturian musical instruments
  • The Asturian Pavilion from the 1992 Universal Exposition of Seville, installed at the museum in 1994

The Asturias Railway Museum or Gijón Railway museum (Museo del Ferrocarril de Asturias) is an institution dedicated to restore, preserve and display to the public the railway history of Asturias. It was inaugurated on October 22, 1998 by the current king Felipe VI as Prince of Asturias in that moment. The centre is economically supported by Gijón City Council and it’s integrated in the museums municipal network. It’s one of the most important Spanish railways museums.

The Juan Barjola Museum of Painting was inaugurated in 1988, after a donation by Juan Barjola of 104 works from the years 1950–1988. It is under the auspices of the Cultural Council of the Principality of Asturias. The museum is located in the Trinidad Complex, a four-storied historical building. The exhibition occupies three of the four stories of the building. The lower floor is for temporary expositions. The exhibition starts on the third floor, with very early works from the 1950s. It continues on the second floor with works from the 1970s, ending on the first floor with paintings from the 1980s.

The International Bagpipe Museum was founded in 1965, and moved to its current location, integrated in the Museum of the Asturian People, in 1975. The museum houses a large collection of bagpipes from Spain, and from the remainder of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Additionally, the museum features items related to Asturian music.

LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (Art and Industrial Creation Centre) is an exhibition centre for art, science, technology and advanced visual industries. It is also a venue for artistic and technological production, research investigation and training; and for the dissemination of new forms of art and industrial creation. The museum’s programme of activities mirrors the changes society is undergoing and its immersion in contemporary visual culture.

Best restaurants

There are seven Michelin list restaurants in the city:

  • Auga, Claudio Alvargonzález, 55 – 90 EUR • Modern Cuisine (one star)
  • V. Crespo, Periodista Adeflor 3, 40 – 60 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • El Recetario, Trinidad 1, 30 – 40 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • Farragua, Contracay 3, 34 – 55 EUR • Modern Cuisine
  • Gloria, Plaza Florencio Rodríguez 3, 25 – 50 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • El Cencerro, Decano Prendes Pando 24, 19 – 60 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • Camelia, Marqués de San Esteban 2, 30 – 45 EUR • Asturian Cuisine

Shopping

Gijón’s main street is Calle Corrida, a wide pedestrian avenue leading from the gardens of the Queen to the Six Square August.

The artisan and organic market is held the second weekend of every month in Plaza Mayor in Gijón, just at the entrance of the old town of Cimadevilla.

Beaches

The Paseo del Muro and the San Lorenzo beach make one of the most well-known and populous sea facades of Asturias.

The San Lorenzo with a length of 1.550 meters and shell shape it offers kites, surfboards, skates, bicycles, volleyball, soccer, jogging, sand castles, baths, sports competitions, sunbeds, bathing huts, umbrellas.

At the eastern end of San Lorenzo, there is the Paseo del Muro, it is the best known coastal path of the Cervigón, a sea route of more than 2 kilometers that brings closer to other beaches such as Rinconín or Peñarrubia.

How to get to?

Airport

Gijón is served by Asturias Airport, about 38 km from the center of the city; it is located in the municipality of Castrillon. The airport is connected to the city by the A-8 motorway, the N-632 national highway and scheduled bus service (Alsa).

Public transport

Gijón currently has 18 bus lines and four more Búho (owl) lines. The owl services work on Friday and Saturday nights, and daily in the months of July and August.

Railway

The city is served by the Gijón Railway Station. It is the terminus for Alvia services from Madrid, Alicante, León, Valladolid and Barcelona, as well as Intercity and Media Distancia services. It is also the last destination for four Cercanías commuter railway lines.

Main highways

A-8 Autovía del Cantábrico: Gijón – LlanesBilbaoSan Sebastián.
A-66 Autovía Ruta de la Plata: Gijón – OviedoLeónBenaventeZamoraSalamancaBéjarPlasenciaMéridaSeville.

From Madrid 4 hr 35 min (466 km) via A-6.

Main information

Area: 182 km² (municipality)

Coordinates: 43°31′46″N 5°40′38″W

Population: 268 896

Languages: Spanish, Asturian

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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