Welcome to Oviedo, the capital city of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain. This charming city is a hidden gem that boasts a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine. Oviedo is located approximately 24 km (15 mi) southwest of Gijón and 23 km (14 mi) southeast of Avilés, both of which lie on the shoreline of the Bay of Biscay. Oviedo’s proximity to the ocean of less than 30 kilometres (19 mi) in combination with its elevated position with areas of the city more than 300 metres above sea level causes the city to have a maritime climate, in spite of its not being located on the shoreline itself.
The Kingdom of Asturias began in 720, with the Visigothic aristocrat Pelagiuss (685–737) revolt against the Muslims who at the time were occupying most of the Iberian Peninsula. The Moorish invasion that began in 711 had taken control of most of the peninsula, until the revolt in the northern mountains by Pelagius. The resulting Kingdom of Asturias, located in an economically poor region of Iberia, was largely ignored by the Muslims. In 720, the area where Oviedo is now located was still uninhabited. It is said that two monks, Máximo and Fromestano (Latin: Maximus et Fromestanus), founded the city in 761. That settlement was soon to be completed with the construction of a small church dedicated to Saint Vincent. Oviedo was established on an uninhabited hillside, with no Visigothic or Roman foundation before it became an Asturian city. Following Pelagius, who died in 737, Alfonso I (739–57) founded a dynasty that reigned until 1037. The Asturian Kingdom was on hostile terms with southern Moorish Spain. In 794, Oviedo was sacked and pillaged by Caliph Hisham I in one of his numerous campaigns against the Christian kingdoms.
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. Alfonso II is said to have built four churches, one dedicated to Christ the Saviour, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Tyrsus, and SS Julian and Basilissa. There are few traces of the churches dedicated to the Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and St. Tyrsus. The San Salvador church, which was dedicated to the Saviour, is likely beneath the Cathedral of Oviedo. The church of Santa Maria de la Corte, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was demolished in 1702. As for St. Tyrsus, the church dedicated to him exists today as the church of San Tirso. Only a wall and a three light window are believed to have been built by Alfonso II, the majority of the rest of the church is dated to the 14th century. The best-preserved church constructed during Alfonso II’s time was San Julian de los Prados. Two buildings are said to have been built during Ramiro I’s reign, one was a church.
Oviedo is located in the center of Asturias between the Nalón River and Nora River. To the north lie Las Regueras and Llanera, to the south Mieres and Ribera de Arriba, to the east Siero and Langreo, and to the west Grado and Santo Adriano. The altitude of Oviedo is between 80 and 709 meters above sea level. The city is protected against strong winds by Monte Naranco in the north and the Sierra del Aramo in the south. The city center is rather hilly.
The economy is strongly dependent on the service sector, with many office buildings in the city center. Oviedo’s status as the administrative center of the region supports a large number of jobs in public administration. The manufacturing sector, which remains important in this part of Spain, is not prevalent in Oviedo itself, but is more important in the adjacent municipalities of Siero and Llanera which lie to the north of the city, between Oviedo and Gijon. In 2009, the municipality had a total debt of €135 million.