The Pre-Romaneque Triplet:
San Miguel del Lillo, Santa Maria del Naranco & San Julian de los Prados
Oviedo is the home to three of the most important pre-Romanesque monuments in all of Spain: San Miguel del Lillo, Santa Maria del Naranco and San Julian de los Prados.
The first two are set majestically on the Naranco hillside and can be reached easily by foot as they are only about 4 km from the city center following la Avenida de los Monumentos. These surprisingly well-preserved buildings were built during the 9th century and have served as everything from churches to royal getaways.
The three characteristic arches of Santa Maria del Naranco are used today in the regional symbol that proclaims Asturias as the “paraiso natural”, and the building itself is considered by many as the Parthenon of Asturian art. Tours of San Miguel del Lillo and Santa Maria del Naranco are held, in Spanish, until 2pm, except Sundays. These organized tours are the only way to see inside the monuments, but the outside can be seen for free and is probably just as impressive, seeing as the insides have begun to deteriorate and have been reconstructed over the centuries.
San Julian de Los Prados is a bit more easily accessible, as it lies to the west side of the city along the highway to Gijon. This highway setting takes a bit away from the inherent beauty of the place (it’s less picturesque than Naranco and Lillo), but still worth visiting to complete the pre-Romaneque triplet.
Another monument worth checking out is La Foncalada, situated just north of the casco antiguo. It is said to be the only civil work in pre-Romanesque style conserved in all of Europe. Even with this importance it is almost completely swallowed up by the buildings that surround it on all sides. If you aren’t specifically searching it out, you might miss it altogether.
Cathedral of San Salvador
Finally there’s the Cathedral of San Salvador. It is a compact representative of pre-Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles, although its Gothic features are most visible. The cathedral stands strong in the heart of the casco antiguo with its Gothic spire shooting toward the sky out of the 9th-century foundation.
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