One of the smaller regions of Spain, Asturias is a former principality located on Spain’s northern coast. It is bordered by Galicia, Cantabria and Castila y León. Unlike other regions, Asturias contains only one province, also called Asturias.
Asturias has a long history which dates back to prehistoric times: the region was inhabited by cavemen during the Paleolithic era, who left cave paintings that can still be seen today. It was then subsequently conquered by the Romans, Suebi and Visigoths before falling during the Moorish invasion. All of these occupiers, however, had a difficult time maintaining their presence in the rocky mountains and shores of this somewhat harsh land. The Moors in particular could not hold it, and thus brought about their own eventual downfall: Christian nobles that fled their southern homelands during the Moorish invasion gathered here, and gradually formed the nucleus of Christian forces that would re-take the peninsula over the centuries.
Asturias played an active role in the complicated feudal politics of the Middle Ages, allying itself with different kingdoms over the years. During the Golden Age, the principality was important in Spanish politics and in the colonization of the New World. The discovery of coal in the region helped fuel Spain’s industrial revolution, while at the same time the region grew wealthy from Asturians who made fortunes in the New World and returned to Spain. Castilian Spanish is spoken in Asturias, but there is a regional dialect, Asturian, which is very common as well, and has been an official language since 1998.
Asturias is ruggedly beautiful, packed with mountains, valleys and rocky shores. The Cantabrian Mountain chain runs through Asturias, and the stunning Picos de Europa Park is in Asturias. The craggy mountains have been home to traditional shepherds for centuries, who still produce a famous blue cheese in special caves. It is one of Spain’s most wild areas, with bears, wolves and lynxes still living in the remote regions of the mountains.
Asturias has much to offer travelers, particularly those who enjoy the outdoors. In addition to Picos de Europa Park, the region is home to beautiful lakes, picturesque coastlines and even some good beaches. The capital, Oviedo, is a quiet, pleasant, provincial city featuring some interesting historical architecture. Asturias is well-known for seafood, but be sure to also try the fabada, a thick, hearty bean stew made with sausage.