I have been to Asturias two summers in a row. It has definitely stood out to me as a place with a unique and proud culture. I had never heard of it until I visited my Asturian friend. We partied, we hiked and we indulged in a bit of history. Throughout the next paragraphs I will talk about the culture, history and nature I picked up on traveling in Asturias.
History of Invasions
About 2,500 years ago Asturias was heavily settled by the Celts. The Celtic culture can still be seen today. 500 years later, the Romans conquered the province, where it was ruled in a more organised way. When Rome fell Asturias was taken over by the Suevi and the land was renamed to Suevia. Two lifetimes later the Visigoths invaded Suevia (Asturias). With a weak and unstable administration the province fell to the Moors, but the region never was assimilated to Islamic Spain so the Kingdom of Asturias was founded by a nobleman called Pelayo. Eventually the kingdom gained a christian identity. Later, during the industrial era Asturias became a key sector for coal mining.
They Play Bagpipes
Asturias is a celtic region. It’s celtic roots are shown through elevated villages by the sea and and heard through the screeches of bagpipes. I remember visiting the coastal town of Candas for a sardine festival and hearing the sound of bagpipes in the distance. As the instruments were being played I asked my friend something like “Are those bagpipes? I thought we were in Spain”. He told me about the spread of the celts throughout Europe and that Asturias had celtic roots.
According to my Asturian correspondent, Asturias has the highest alcohol consumption per capita in Spain. I don’t doubt that. In the very small town I stayed in there was about three bars, enough to get the whole village drunk three times over, The parties are wild and the provincial drink Cider is drunk on many occasions.
Speaking of parties and alcohol, the younger population loves to go to big events where they listen to Spanish music and get wasted. A particularly big party is called the Xiringuelu. It is held on a big field in the town of Pravia. People come from all over Asturias with plastic bags filled with soda and cheap alcohol. They form a long line from the train station, along a bridge and they disperse after walking past the unit of police men and dogs. The partiers party all day by dancing in front of the deafening stage speakers or drinking until they fall. It is an interesting spectacle with more than 30,000 attendees. As the party ends, the field is non existent under the piles of trash that litter the ground.
The landscapes aren’t at a nordic level, but they are very memorable for me. We often travelled through the bottom of valleys with dark green hills and strong cliffs at our side. The more south we got the higher we rose and the hills became mountains. The coasts are tall, green and brown and looking east or west they seem to go on for miles (which they do). I stayed in a small valley town with views from every angle. I loved taking photos from the bedroom, the football pitch and atop the hills.
Asturias is definitely worth the visit if you go to the northern parts of Spain. Enjoy a Celtic culture, hard cider and beautiful views. There is a reason I went for two summers in a row.
What is another culture with a unique culture? why? Tell us in the comments. I’ll see you in the next post.
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