Villaviciosa

The fertile town

Located 10 kilometers from the coast, Villaviciosa is the capital of a concejo that comprises an important group of pre-Romanesque and Romanesque churches.

Plan your visit to Villaviciosa

This city gives its name to an estuary of great biological value. The concejo has plenty of attractions to see; a visit could take the entire day. In case the trip to Villaviciosa is too short, it is possible to prolong your stay in Asturias for several days visiting nearby places such as the small towns of Tazones and Colunga, the monastery of Valdediós, or the beautiful city of Gijón. In the section “Eating and sleeping in Villaviciosa,” you’ll find all the information you need to enjoy the best gastronomy and lodging.

Do you want to visit this place?

Located in a very fertile region, Villaviciosa has long been populated and is home to numerous forts (fortified pre-Roman towns) and some vestiges of the Roman Empire. The city has developed from the beginning of the 13th century as an effect of the foundation of the nearby Monastery of Santa María de Valdediós and the charter that King Alfonso X the Wise granted it in 1270.

In the 15th century, the city suffered a fire of enormous proportions, to the point that it received economic support from Ferdinand and Isabella for its reconstruction. Some years later, in September of 1517, the most important event in the city’s history took place when King Carlos I spent four nights at the home of Rodrigo de Hevia after landing in Tazones during his first trip to Spain.

In the 17th century, a notable urbanization took place. A good part of the plazas, mansions, and noble palaces that were built then are still maintained today.

Imagen antigua de El Ancho, en la calle del Sol de Villaviciosa
Old image of El Ancho, on Calle del Sol

During the War of Independence, the city changed hands many times, suffering numerous destructions. But in the mid-19th century it would have an important urban and industrial development, a product of the construction of mansions by the bourgeoisie and the indianos (emigrants who had become wealthy in the Americas) as well as the foundation of factories such as El Gaitero Cider.

Some distinguished maliayos include José Caveda y Nava (responsible for the publication of one of the first books printed in Asturian), Alejandro Pidal y Mon (language academician), and Víctor García de la Concha (former director of the Royal Academy of Language and director of the Cervantes Institute).

Villaviciosa, better known as “La Villa,” is a vibrant town in eastern Asturias. The concejo includes 41 churches, many of which stand out for their pre-Romanesque and Romanesque churches. A few highlights are the Iglesias de San Salvador de Priesca (20th century) and San Salvador de Valdediós (9th century), both pre-Romanesque, and Santa María de Valdediós (13th century), San Juan de Amandi (13th century), and Santa María de Lugás (12th century), all Romanesque and declared Bien de Interés Cultural (Good of Cultural Interest). If you do not have the time or means of transportation to visit these interesting displays of Asturian religious heritage, you can always inform yourself about them at the Centro de Información y Recepción de Visitantes del Románico de Villaviciosa.

Villaviciosa, better known as “La Villa,” is a vibrant town in eastern Asturias. The concejo includes 41 churches, many of which stand out for their pre-Romanesque and Romanesque churches. A few highlights are the Iglesias de San Salvador de Priesca (20th century) and San Salvador de Valdediós (9th century), both pre-Romanesque, and Santa María de Valdediós (13th century), San Juan de Amandi (13th century), and Santa María de Lugás (12th century), all Romanesque and declared Bien de Interés Cultural (Good of Cultural Interest). If you do not have the time or means of transportation to visit these interesting displays of Asturian religious heritage, you can always inform yourself about them at the Centro de Información y Recepción de Visitantes del Románico de Villaviciosa.

Once within the city center, we recommend visiting El Ancho, the section of Calle del Sol that is home to most of the old emblazoned houses, such as Teatro Riera, the cultural nucleus of the city, in front of which is the monument to Obdulio Fernández Pando (from 1932, best known as “La Manzanera”), conceived by Mariano Benlliure. It pays homage to the indiano and founder of El Gaitero Cider by representing his niece dressed as a villager with a basket of apples. A monument to Carlos I (1970) was also erected nearby by Salamanca native Francisco González Macías to commemorate the emperor’s stay in the town. You can also visit the Iglesia de Santa María de la Anunciación and the Iglesia de la Oliva, declared a Bien de Interés Cultural like the other ones mentioned. The temple, from the 13th century, is a transitional work between the Romanesque and Gothic styles. It has a rectangular floor, one nave, and is covered by a wooden structure. The anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations on the capitals of the southern and western facades are particularly interesting. In front of the temple, there is the headquarters of the José Cardín Fernández Foundation, whose namesake was a member of the line of owners of El Gaitero Cider. The company organizes guided visits, both to demonstrate work on the production line and to teach about the company’s history by means of a permanent exhibit.

Most of the restoration establishments are located around the town hall and the plaza named El Güevu (El Huevo). The triangle formed by the building of the maliayo town council, Calle Balbín Busto, and Calle Cervantes is the center for leisure and shopping.

The whole area of the Villaviciosa Estuary has been declared a Partial Natural Reserve due to its botanical and ornithological interest. The places that tend to attract the most attention are Playa de Rodiles, which is a very high-quality beach that has not been urbanized, and Tazones. The visitor must be sure to take a stroll through the rich natural landscape of the entire concejo, which although damaged by the extension of the eucalyptus plantations, remains well-preserved in some areas. Another essential stop is the Villaviciosa Estuary Visitor Center, established in an old road laborers’ house on the Villaviciosa-El Puntal highway, which displays the different aspects of the estuary and its fauna in an educational tour.

Iglesia de la Oliva en Villaviciosa

In the nearby church of Puelles, you’ll find the Cistercian Monastery of Santa María de Valdediós (18th century), where the only three Romanesque altars in Asturias are preserved. Nearby, you’ll find the Conventín, a noteworthy pre-Romanesque work from the time of Alfonso III of Asturias.

The region of Villaviciosa is a center for the extraction of the mineral jet, as the coastal abrasion platform located between Tazones and Venta las Ranas (La Mariña) is the most important area. Craftsmanship of this material is dated from the Middle Ages up to 19th-century England.

As far as gastronomy goes, Villaviciosa leads the Cider Region and is the headquarters of the best-known business in Spain. It also has a large offering of fabes (white beans) and cheeses produced in the concejo which can be found in markets like the Traditional Market of Oles.

Must-see...

Ría de Villaviciosa
Iglesia de San Salvador de Priesca cerca de Villaviciosa
Iglesia de San Salvador de Priesca

Practical Data

Coordinates

43° 28′ 52″ N, 5° 26′ 72″ W

Distances

Oviedo 45 km, Madrid 490 km


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