203km (126 miles) W of Santander, 444km (276 miles) N of Madrid

Oviedo is the capital of Asturias. Only 26km (16 miles) from the coast, Oviedo is very pleasant in summer, when much of Spain is unbearably hot. It makes an ideal base for excursions along the Costa Verde. Despite its high concentration of industry and mining, the area has unspoiled scenery.

Razed in the 8th century during the Reconquest, it was rebuilt in an architectural style known as Asturian pre-Romanesque, which predated many of the greatest achievements under the Moors. Remarkably, this architectural movement was in flower when the rest of Europe lay under the black cloud of the Dark Ages.

As late as the 1930s, Oviedo was suffering violent upheavals. An insurrection in the mining areas on October 5, 1934, led to a seizure of the town by miners, who set up a revolutionary government. The subsequent fighting led to the destruction of many historical monuments. The cathedral was also damaged, and the university was set on fire. Even more destruction came during the Spanish Civil War. Despite Oviedo's long and violent history, it is a peaceful city today.