Tineo and Obona Monastery

Gold, Cowboys, and Larger-than-Life Personalities

The farming town of Tineois located in a valley with gold deposits along the old Camino de Santiago and is surrounded by old ecclesiastical fiefdoms with a rustic feel. Tineo has been the birthplace of politicians and military men.

Planning Your Trip to Tineo and Obona Monastery

The town may be small, but it is home to more than enough treasures to occupy travelers for at least a day. Of course, hurried pilgrims doing the Camino de Santiago might make their visit shorter. In any case, visitors can enjoy the monastery and the gorgeous natural environment. Since it is located towards the center of the province, it’s possible to continue your trip in nearby towns such as the beautiful Cangas de Narcea and the fishing towns of Luarca and Cudillero. On our pages about sleeping and eating in Tineo you can find more information about the local gastronomy as well as a selection of the best places to stay.

Want to Get to Know This Place?

The vast territory ofTineo, advantageously located at a crossroads, was populated by 4000 B.C. at the latest, as evidenced by the Dolmen of Merillés and other remains. Valuable artifacts from the Metal Ages have been conserved, such as the Tineo Dagger, which is preserved in the Asturias Archaeological Museum, and the Navelgas Axe, which is part of the British Museum’s collection.

The remote settlement of Tineo piqued the Romans’ interest due to its proximity to gold deposits. The gold of these valleys has been mined since the dawn of time. Tineo acquired a charter in the Middle Ages. Seated on a hilltop, it did not get a defensive wall, but it did have a fort which served an active defensive function for centuries.

Although the date of the town’s founding is unknown, it was in 1222 that Alfonso IX of León granted it the title of “puebla real” (“royal town”). Thus it consolidated its privileged position on the Camino de Santiago, as the king decreed that pilgrims traveling from San Salvador de Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela must pass through Tineo and Obona. The towns were part of an important stage of the Camino known as the “Camino Primitivo.”

Several families once vied for hegemony within this territory in which there were important ecclesiastical fiefdoms (e.g. Obona and Bárcena), with the Quiñones family, Counts of Luna, playing a particularly significant role. However, Ferdinand and Isabella once again brought the territory under the control of the Crown of Castile. The flag of Tineo commemorates its ties to the Kingdom of León, a motif which also appears on the coat of arms, which depicts the head of the famous Algerian pirate Redbeard who died at the hands of Tineo native García Fernández de la Plaza.

Panoramic view of Tineo in the olden days

Panoramic view of Tineo in the olden days

In the late 19th century, Tineo got its own Audience. On June 27, 1899 in Plaza de las Campas, a convict by the name ofGancedo was executed by garotte. This was the last public execution (until 1936 during the Civil War). Many people came to Tineo from the surrounding area to watch the execution that day.

Unfortunately, the ruins of Tineo’s fort were demolished in 1912. Recently, the tradition of looking for gold in soil from the riverbeds has been revived, and contests have been organized attracting participants from numerous countries.

Tineo is found in the Protected Landscape of the Esva River Basin, which is home to some gorges of the same name which have been declared a Natural Monument, as well as the Carbayón de Valentín, an old oak tree whose trunk is more than 10 meters in diameter, considered one of the 100 most notable trees in Spain. The tree is over 16 meters tall and is mentioned in documents dating from before 1492, so it is estimated to be around 700 years old. In accordance with the tradition surrounding oak trees, which were believed to have magical properties, meetings of a sacred nature were held at the tree. The bark of these trees has a high tannin content, which has been used to treat such medical conditions as diarrhea and hemorrhages.

In the town—part of which has been declared a Historical Site (Conjunto Histórico)—one noteworthy thing to see is the García de Tineo Mansion, currently the seat of the Municipal House of Culture. This is the most renowned civil construction in the area. It originated as a tower in the Middle Ages, later becoming a mansion in the 15th century. The two-floor home faces directly onto Calle Mayor.

Tineomaintains its typical hillside layout. The area known as Fondos de Villa—full of granaries, stables, hay lofts, and mills—was quite different from the “El Pico de Villa” area, which is at a higher altitude. The castle was the center of life in Tineo during the Middle Ages and gave rise to the present-day Plaza de las Campas, a popular meeting place and social center.

Mater Christi Pilgrims’ Hospitalhas mostly disappeared; there are barely visible remains of the original building on the town’s main street. Another medieval building was the Franciscan convent, later replaced by San Pedro Parish Church, which conserves a singular façade from the 14th century. In downtown Tineo is the Museum of Religious Art, where you can see a Christ on the Crucifix (12th-13th centuries) and several processional crosses, and Merás Mansion (1525), a notable construction whose main body is flanked by two towers. A sundial was recently installed on Paseo de los Frailes featuring the figure of a pilgrim and an inscription that reads: “VIATOR HORAM ASPICE ET ABI VIAM TUAM” (“Traveler, look at the time and continue on your way”).

For more things to do in Tineo, travel just outside town to find some important monuments such as the Monastery of Santa María La Real de Obona, most likely established during the time of the Asturianmonarchy and later taken over by the Cistercians. Little is known about the church’s original appearance; the building that stands today was built in the early 13th century, while the present-day cloister is from the 17th century. Construction on the cloister was suspended in 1688, so the work remains unfinished. The church houses an important medieval crucifix.

The concejo is also home to another church, San Miguel de Bárzana, dating from the 10th century. In the nearby town of Tuña you can find the birthplace of General Riego, who defended the Spanish Constitution of 1812. The village of Sorribawas the hometown of the Count of Campomanes, a brilliant scholar who became Minister in the time of Charles III. Another native son of this Asturian municipality was José Francisco Maldonado González, the last President of the Republic, who was exiled.

Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Obona

Finally, in the nearby town of Navelgas you can visit the Asturias Museum of Gold, where you can complete your trip with the “Gold Trail” based on the remains of gold mines from the Roman era which have lasted until the present. Behind the museum you can try your hand at gold panning, an activity which even has a championship during the last weekend in July. Tineo is also home to the Asturias Cowboy Museum (Naraval), which exhibits the lifestyle and living conditions of this group of nomads who spent the summers in the pastures of the highlands.


Ayuntamiento de Tineo
Museo del oro de Asturias, Concejo de Tineo
Museum of Gold

Practical Information


43° 20′ 1″ N, 6° 24′ 3″ W


652 m


Oviedo 68 km, Madrid 449 km


3,682 (2013)


Blue lot in the town

Pedro (June 29), San Roque (August 12-18)

The people of Tineo are known for their love of bowling. The game is often played alongside churches, including San Roque Chapel.

Nearby destinations

Cangas del Narcea

About the author