The hike up to Bandujo is part of the destination, that’s the first thing to be clear about. This parish in the centre of Asturias is accessed by a local road designed according to the shape of the mountain. As you can imagine, the views are spectacular. These impossible curves gradually give way to a dream place for lovers of nature and the peacefulness that this landscape offers. But Bandujo is something more: it is one of the Asturian villages that has best preserved its medieval past.
This Asturian parish has its origins in 8th century, when it was still known as Vandugio and was only a small village. There are no buildings left from this period, but there is a path that can still be followed. There is also a document from the year 912, related to the cathedral of Oviedo, which certifies both the location of the settlement and the existence of a Romanesque style church.
It is believed that Bandujo adopted its current form, which consists of different neighbourhoods connected to each other, from the 12th century until the 18th century. It was also at this period when a lineage was born, which has been present throughout its history: the Álvarez de Bandujo family, associated with a remarkable circular tower that still stands today. It is one of the best examples of defensive towers in Asturias.
The remoteness of the place can be defined by the following fact: it was not until the last century that Bandujo had a halfway decent access road to the place. Until then, it was just this primitive medieval road that had access to the parish.
Located in the Asturian mountains, at an altitude of 700 metres, Bandujo’s summers are cool and humid, and its winters are cold. When snow falls often isolates the forty neighbours who still live in the different neighbourhoods. So, they, in addition to value this place, live in Bandujo, which in 2009 was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in the category of Historic Site. Therefore, as tourists, we must not forget that this is a place where many people spend their daily lives. It should also not be forgotten that to romanticise rural areas too much is like ignoring the difficulties that they often suffer from.
However, it is worth discovering and understanding the seven neighbourhoods that are part of Bandujo. All of them have their respective stone houses and some elements that appear to belong to another time, such as the raised granaries. Its impressive location in the mountains is also noticeable at every step you take.
Two monuments stand out in this medieval destination. Firstly, the church of Santa María, which still has a medieval appearance, although it was remodeled in the 18th century. Its origins date back to the 10th century and it has simple shapes: Romanesque style and a single nave. The cemetery is also worth visiting, where every year on All Souls’ Day the tombs are covered with flowers.
Another highlight is the tower previously mentioned, known as the tower of Bandujo or the tower of Tuñón. It was built between the 11th and 13th centuries and has a circular plan and has four floors. The shield with the coats of arms of the Tuñón, Miranda and Bandujo families, three families that had a significant influence on the development of the area, can still be seen on the tower.
Although the two main cities of Asturias, Gijón and Oviedo, are just over an hour away each, the best recommendation is to explore the inland countryside. Just over half an hour away, the Las Ubiñas-La Mesa Nature Park will surprise you with its infinite natural beauty. The hiking routes that can be discovered by going deeper into its surroundings will fascinate lovers of nature and peacefulness. Besides, as it has been already mentioned, Senda del Oso route is one of the most incredible ones. It is also significant not to forget to mention the Peña Ubiña massif, the second highest mountain in the region behind the Picos de Europa. It reaches an altitude of 2,400 metres.
The Somiedo Nature Park is a little further away, but also accessible. It also reaches an altitude of 2,000 metres, but it has also a descent to 400 metres to discover a different landscape. It is interesting to highlight the beautiful lakes within this area, such as Saliencia, or the typical “brañas” (summer pasture area on village land) with their “teitos” (typical construction of Somiedo), which are also useful for discovering the work of the shepherds in the area.
The main reason of being the perfect destination is that discovering Bandujo is a fantastic immersion in an authentic medieval environment located in the mountains of Asturias, which makes it a priceless experience. This parish allows visitors to enjoy the natural paradise of this region, in which history and culture are its two basic features.