Parador of Cangas De Onis
By Gary Bumpas
The 5-star Parador at Cangas De Onis presents a wonderful opportunity to combine extraordinary natural surroundings and a unique cultural experience while staying in a historically significant and aesthetically beautiful hotel.
The Cangas De Onis Parador is situated on a bend in the stunning Sella river in the foothills near the mighty Picos de Europa - among the most rugged and awesome mountain peaks in Europe. The peacefulness and purity of the countryside here is amazing. The Parador, formerly the Monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva, maintains and contributes to the air of tranquility that you will experience here.
This place played a pivotal part in the history of Spain. At this exact spot the centuries long re-conquest of Spain by the Christians over the Moors began. The great historic figure (whose true history is muddled by legend) who started this fight was Pelayo - around 722 A.D.. He became the first king of Asturias and this land was know as "Primorias" until the 9th century - indicating the 'first birth' - the 'primordial beginnings' of what was to become what we know of as Spain.
The Parador was founded in the 8th century as a monastery by Alfonso I and his wife - the daughter of Pelayo. During the rehabilitation of the Monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva, many artifacts from the various stages in the history of this place were unearthed and rediscovered. Two rooms in the Parador have been set aside as museum display rooms for these artifacts.
The Parador at Cangas De Onis is the perfect base from which to do several fascinating day trips to...
- The Basilica at Covadongas standing serene in its own isolated valley is a must-see and makes for a very enjoyable half-day excursion.
- The Picos de Europa Park was the very first national park in Spain. The Picos de Europa are mountains of unmatched grandeur and worthy of several days of pleasant exploration. These are among the most rugged mountains in all Europe and still provide home to bear, wild boar, ermine, mountain goat and golden eagles - among many, many other species. There are several "routes" into the mountains - try the Cares Route - and try to stop at the Mirador de Frito and the Mirador de la Reina for incredible panoramic views that stretches from sea to mountain peaks.
- The beaches along the coast here are not to be missed - you can usually find one that you'll have all to yourself. Drive to Buelna beach, Toro beach, Toranda beach, Antolin beach - and there are dozens of others awaiting to be discovered.
- The Sella river is one of Spain's prettiest and provides great fishing, kayaking, and hiking opportunities.
- There are fascinating pre-historic and Paleolithic cave paintings at Tito Bustillo and Buxu, as well as the the rock art at Pe"a Tu.
- The many examples of Gothic and Romanesque churches are too numerous to list, but the front desk at the Parador will give you maps and point you in the right direction.
- There are three excellent golf courses in the vicinity at Ribadasella, Llanes, and Villaviciosa.
Gastronomically - Asturias is justifiably famous all over Spain. Some of Spain's fines and most distinctive cheeses are produced here; Cabrales and Penamellera - from the areas with the same name. Also noteworthy are Gamonedo produced around Cangas de Onis and Beyos from the area of Amieva and Ponga in the heart of the mountains.
Asturias is also famous for apple cider. This fermented drink is the national drink of the entire region, and its pouring and drinking has become ritualized and its great fun to watch and participate in this ritual. Just walk into any 'cider bar' in Asturias and partake.
Fabada Asturiana is a classic dish of the region - a kind of stew made of kidney beans, blood sausage, bacon and shoulder of pork flavored with laurel leaves. Seafood and river fish is also abundant in the cuisine of this area bounded by sea and mountains.
The Parador will serve these specialties in its own incomparable way and provide you with daily gastronomical discoveries that will leave you satiated, yet already anticipating the next meal!
One really needs to have a vehicle to be able to fully explore this captivating region. Rent a car and plan leisurely day trips to the various areas of interest. Always take along some of the famous cheese, a bottle of wine or cider, some bread and ham - whatever - because you'll drive by dozens of perfect picnic spots every time you venture out.
This area has been nick-named, "The realm of the senses" by some of its aficionados - and that it surely is. Take your time, use the Parador as home base, and enjoy this area that has also been called "the most Spanish of all Spain." It will be a travel experience long-cherished and never forgotten.
About The Author
SpainParador.com makes it easy for you to plan and arrange your next trip to Spain. This time stay in palaces, castles, and other places of great historical interest and rare beauty. Go to: http://www.SpainParador.com/Parador_Leon.htm.