Prince of Asturias Awards – October 2002 Update – Oviedo …

Prince of Asturias Awards

Fall is here and things are bustling in Oviedo. Beach weather is no longer ideal, people are moving back to the city, university classes are starting again and the leaves in San Francisco Park are beginning their colorful transformation. It’s time to get serious. Either that or rejoice the fact that many of the bars, clubs and restaurants closed down for the summer are now open for business. While the terraces are still open and rain has not yet soaked the streets, it’s the perfect time to enjoy some sidra on Calle Gascona or relax with a café con leche.

October also means international recognition for the small Asturian city as it hosts the Prince of Asturias Awards on the 25th of the month. The Awards, which started in 1981, promote scientific, cultural and humanistic values on an international level. It’s probably best described as the pride and joy of the Asturian community, partly because it’s one of the few times that Felipe, the Prince of Asturias and heir to the Spanish throne, pays them a visit.

But the Prince isn’t the only important figure that makes a red-carpet appearance. Scientists mapping the human genome, Olympic athletes, composers and environmental preservationists are among the talented individuals awarded in previous years.

This year, juries chose eight award winners from 213 entries sent in from 86 different countries. Among the winners is playwright Arthur Miller, director Woody Allen, the fathers of the Internet and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. Awards are given in eight different areas: Communications and Humanities, Arts, Letters, Social Sciences, Technical and Scientific Research, International Cooperation, Sports and Concord. Winners in each category receive 50,000 euros and an award sculpted by Spanish artist Joan Miró.

Depending on what your agenda is, traveling in Oviedo during the week of the 25th might be a little more than you have bargained for. Officers of the Spanish Civil and National Guard permeate the area, and a few of the Oviedo’s monuments are highly controlled and/or closed to the public.

The ceremony for the Awards takes place in the Campoamor Theater, just outside old town and down the street from San Francisco Park. Most of the action takes place there, but guests attending the ceremony stay a few blocks away at the five-star Hotel de la Reconquista, so there’s always a fair amount of hubbub around that area as well.

The groups of officers might be intimidating, but don’t count out the crush-driven girls and curious passers-by who’ll swarm key areas around the city just for a chance to get a glimpse of the Prince’s pearly whites. Unless celebrity events are your thing, your best bet is to steer clear of the crowds and head up to the Picos de Europa while the sun’s still out and the temperatures are above freezing.

Before long, the daily drizzle will arrive, and your best Asturian travel companion will be your umbrella.

For more information about the Prince of Asturias Awards or the Foundation visit www.fpa.es.

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