Oviedo – the capital of the Principality of Asturias

Oviedo (Asturian: Uviéu) is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain. It is also the name of the municipality that contains the city.

It is the geographical, educational, religious, political and administrative center of Asturias, headquarters of the General Board of the Principality, its institutions, the University of Oviedo, the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias, the Princess of Asturias Awards as well as the Archdiocese of Oviedo. It is recognized as one of the cities with the highest quality of life in Europe according to the European Commission.

The municipality of Oviedo is the second most populated in the autonomous community, ranking 23rd among the most populated municipalities in Spain and is included in the central metropolitan area of Asturias, which includes 800,000 people, and in the so-called Asturian Eight.

It holds the titles of “very noble, very loyal, worthy, undefeated, heroic and good” that appear on the municipality’s coat of arms and this is reflected in a plaque located on the facade of the Town Hall building.

Tourism and main attractions

Oviedo contains a very rich architectural history, with many buildings dating back to the early medieval period. Many of the building projects were undertaken during Alfonso II’s (791-842) reign and Ramiro I’s (842-850) reign. Alfonso III’s contributions are not as well documented.

Religious architecture

The Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Saviour or Cathedral of San Salvador (Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Salvador, Latin: Sancta Ovetensis) is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica that today displays an array of architectural styles, from Pre-Romanesque to Baroque, including Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance parts.

The church began as a large Pre-Romanesque basilica in the present location of the Gothic cathedral, but nothing more is known about that first building, built by order of King Alfonso II of Asturias.

The cathedral was founded by King Fruela I of Asturias in 781 AD, and enlarged in 802 by his son Alfonso II of Asturias known as Alfonso the Chaste, who made Oviedo the capital of Kingdom of Asturias, and resided in Oviedo with his court. He created the See of Oviedo in 810. The present edifice was begun by Bishop Gutierre of Toledo in 1388, and the tower added by Cardinal Francisco Mendoza de Bobadilla in 1528.

The Holy chamber of Oviedo, also known as the chapel of St. Michael, is a Roman Catholic pre-Romanesque church, built next to pre-romanesque Tower of San Miguel of the city’s cathedral. Nowadays, the church occupies the angle between the south arm of the cathedral transept and a side of the cloister.

It was built during the 9th century as a palace chapel for King Alfonso II of Asturias and the church of San Salvador of Oviedo. Apart from acting as royal chapel, the Holy Chamber was built to house the jewels and relics of the cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo, a function it continues to have 1200 years later. Some of these jewels were donated by the Kings Alfonso II and Alfonso III, and represent extraordinary gold artifacts of Asturian Pre-Romanesque, brought from Toledo after the fall of the Visigothic kingdom.

The church of St Mary at Mount Naranco is a pre-Romanesque Asturian building on the slope of Mount Naranco situated 3 kilometres from the city center. Ramiro I of Asturias ordered it to be built as a royal palace, part of a larger complex that also incorporated the nearby church of San Miguel de Lillo, 100 meters away. The palace was completed in 842 and had in part a religious function, being consecrated in 848. Its structural features, such as the barrel vault—with transverse ribs corresponding one-to-one with contreforts at the exterior, make it a clear precursor of the Romanesque construction. The exterior decorations, as well as the use of stilted arches mark the intended verticality of the composition.

It was declared a Monumento Nacional on 24 January 1885. Along with all other national monuments of Spain, it was classified as a Bien de Interés Cultural in June 1985. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1985.

St. Michael of Lillo is a Roman Catholic church built on the Naranco mount, near the Church of Santa María del Naranco. It was completed in 842 and it was consecrated by Ramiro I of Asturias and his wife Paterna in the year 848. It was originally dedicated to St. Mary until this worship passed to the nearby palace in the 12th century, leaving this church dedicated to Saint Michael. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

San Julián de los Prados, also known as Santullano, is a Pre-Ramirense church from the beginning of the 9th century. It is one of the greatest works of Asturian art and was declared an Historical-Artistic Monument by the Spanish Ministry of Culture in June 1917 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 2 December 1998.

The church’s construction was ordered by Alfonso II of Asturias and it was built by the court architect Tioda. It is dedicated to the martyred Egyptian saints Julian and Basilissa.

San Vicente de Oviedo is a church and monastery, which foundation, in 761, is recorded in a charter known as the Pacto monástico de Oviedo (“Monastic Pact of Oviedo”) a copy made in the 12th-century of the original that is dated 25 November 781 and is considered the earliest document on the monarchy of the Kingdom of Asturias, although doubts exist as to the veracity of this document since the monastery, also called Antealtares in the Middle Ages, is not mentioned again until 969.

The Church of Saint Thyrsus is a Roman Catholic Asturian Romanesque church, established in the 790s. Dedicated to Saint Thyrsus, it was built by Tioda, the royal architect of Alfonso II of Asturias. The Great Fire of Oviedo in 1521 and rebuilding in the 18th century removed most of the original church, except for a three-light window.

Civil architecture

Casa de la Rúa, house-palace from the end of the 15th century, the only surviving civil building from the fire of 1521.

University of Oviedo, founded at the end of the 16th century by the Catholic Archbishop Fernando Valdés Salas, Inquisitor General of Spain. Opened in 1608.

Town Hall, built in the 17th century, is a three-story building with a porticoed ground floor with a central arch built over the Puerta de Cimadevilla and which takes advantage of the old city wall as a support.

Valdecarzana-Heredia Palace, baroque from the early seventeenth century, today the seat of the Provincial Court of Asturias.

Malleza-Toreno Palace, baroque from the end of the 17th century, today the headquarters of the Royal Institute of Asturian Studies and its Library.

Camposagrado Palace, late baroque from the beginning of the 18th century, today the seat of the Superior Court of Justice of Asturias.

Palace of the Duke of the Park, built at the beginning of the 18th century, also in the late Baroque style.

Velarde Palace, from the end of the 18th century. It houses the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias.

Former Hospice, from the 18th century, it has a Baroque façade topped by a large coat of arms and an octagonal chapel.

Campoamor Theater, inaugurated in 1892 and named in honor of the poet Ramón de Campoamor at the initiative of Leopoldo Alas «Clarín», then a councilor of the city council. Among other things, it is famous for being the setting for the delivery of the Princess of Asturias Awards.

Palace of the General Board of the Principality of Asturias, built at the beginning of the 20th century, on the site of the old San Francisco Convent.

Auditorium-Palacio de Congresos Príncipe Felipe, is the work of the architect Rafael Beca and was inaugurated in 1999. It is erected on the old water tanks of the city, built in 1846, and of which its structure has been preserved.

Oviedo Conference Center, the work of the architect Santiago Calatrava, partially opened in 2008, and later the auditorium in May 2011.

El Fontán Market, the first covered square in Oviedo, from 1885.

Worth mentioning about the industrial heritage of the municipality, with the conservation of large industrial complexes such as the La Vega Arms Factory, the Trubia Arms Factory, the San Claudio Loza, the Gas Factory, the Olloniego, Tudela Veguín and the neighborhoods and houses of industrial paternalism such as Santa Bárbara, Junigro or the chalets of La Vega.

Plaza de la Escandalera – is the most popular area to walk through. The statue “Maternity” (La Maternidad) by Colombian-artist Fernando Botero is located in the plaza.

The city is also famous for its numerous metal sculptures and installations.


The Archaeological Museum of Asturias is housed in the 16th century Benedictine monastery of Saint Vicente. Its findings include collections of the Asturian Neolithic, Megalithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Astur hill fort culture, Roman period, and of the Gothic, Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque periods of the Kingdom of Asturias. The museum also includes sections of Asturian Ethnography, Heraldry, Medieval and Modern Epigraphy, Spanish Numismatics, a European Medal Section, and Armor.

While owned by the Spanish State, its management was transferred to the regional administration in 1991.

The museum underwent a series of refurbishment works beginning in 2004, being reinaugurated and reopened to the public on March 21, 2011.

The Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias is a museum situated within three buildings: the Palacio de Velarde, the House of Oviedo-Portal, and the House of Solís-Carbajal. The museum was conceived on 13 June 1844 by Royal Decree, and inaugurated 19 May 1980 from the art collection owned by the former province of Oviedo. It now depends on funding from the Culture Department of Asturias, and the City of Oviedo.

The fine arts collection includes up to 10,000 inventoried items, with 350–400 on public display at one time. There are paintings by Spanish artists, highlighting those from Asturias, as well as those from foreign countries, such as Italian (like Umberto Pettinicchio) and Flemish painters. Sculptures, photographs, glass objects, and earthenware are also part of the permanent collection.

Best restaurants

There are six Michelin list restaurants in the city:

Ca’Suso, Marqués de Gastañaga 13, 35 – 55 EUR • Modern Cuisine

Salazogue, San Antonio 3, 30 – 45 EUR • Modern Cuisine

Mestura, Jovellanos 2, 25 – 72 EUR • Traditional Cuisine, Contemporary Cuisine

Casa Fermín, San Francisco 8, 45 – 70 EUR • Traditional Cuisine

El Foralín, Asturias 18, 40 – 58 EUR • Contemporary Cuisine

Gloria, Cervantes 24, 23 – 40 EUR • Traditional Cuisine


Asturias (and Oviedo in particular) is famous for its handmade leather and calfskin goods, including handbags, shoes, coats and luggage. Some of the top shops in Oviedo are situated on Calle Gil de Jaz, Calle Uria and the surrounding streets.

How to get to?


Asturias Airport, (IATA: OVD, ICAO: LEAS) is the only international airport of Asturias, in Castrillón. Traffic consists primarily of scheduled domestic flights and some seasonal scheduled international flights. The airport is located in Anzu, parish of Santiago del Monte, municipality of Castrillón, 15 km from Avilés, 40 km from Gijón and 47 km from the regional capital, Oviedo.


Oviedo railway station is the main station in the Spanish city of Oviedo. It opened in 1874 and was reconstructed after the Spanish Civil War.

The station provides a wide range of long- and middle-distance services, in addition to regional and suburban (cercanías) services operated by Renfe, and the narrow-gauge Renfe Feve lines. These services connect Oviedo with the other main centres of Asturias and the remainder of the Cantabrian seaboard, and with other parts of Spain including the inland plateau, the Levante and Catalonia. Some of the long distance services they offer are Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante, medium distance services with León, Ferrol and Santander.

The station is located at the end of calle de Uría, a main commercial thoroughfare. It is adjacent to the bus station (Estación de Autobuses de Oviedo), built in 2003.

Distance by car to other capital cities of Spain: 

From Madrid 4 hr 29 min (446 km) via A-6

From Santiago de Compostela 3 hr 13 min (323 km) via A-8

From Santander 2 hr 2 min (192 km) via A-8

From Vitoria-Gasteiz 3 hr 37 min (344 km) via A-8

From Pamplona 4 hr 28 min (435 km) via A-8

From Zaragoza 5 hr 39 min (583 km) via AP-68 and A-8

From Barcelona 8 hr 43 min (884 km) via AP-68 and A-8

From Valladolid 2 hr 59 min (257 km) via N-601 and AP-66

From Toledo 5 hr 24 min (505 km) via A-6

From Valencia 7 hr 57 min (804 km) via A-3

From Mérida 5 hr 32 min (586 km) via A-66

From Murcia 7 hr 54 min (850 km) via A-6

From Seville 7 hr 32 min (777 km) via A-66

From Logroño 4 hr 16 min (424 km) via A-231

Main information

Area: 186 km² (municipality)

Coordinates: 43°21′45″N 5°51′01″W

Population: 217 552

Languages: Spanish, Asturian

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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