The rewards for those intrepid travelers who hustle up Mount Naranco in a heavy rainstorm are manifold.
Exhibit A: San Miguel de Lillo.
This petite beauty has been rewarding water-logged church lovers since 848. Dear readers, I’m afraid I need to insist that you GO TO OVIEDO. Northern Spain is stunning and Oviedo is an architecture lover’s dream. Just have a look at Santa María del Naranco (only a short walk away from San Miguel de Lillo) if you need further convincing.
San Miguel de Lillo is–are you sitting down?–a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The buttresses and barrel vaulting of this church are structurally innovative, a Pre-Romanesque forecast of architecture that would not be widespread in Europe for at least another 200 years.
Even the majestic Infamous Blue Traveling Poncho can’t hold a candle to the compact perfection of San Miguel de Lillo.
Can I get some ooohs and aaaahs for these stone lattice-work windows?
Inside the church are traces of original frescos, though we had difficulty seeing them in the low interior light.
Just behind the entry are delightful circus-themed reliefs. I haven’t seen a great deal of Asturian sculpture, but what I’ve encountered so far has been quite stylized and absolutely charming.
We weren’t allowed to take interior photos, so these shots are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, photos by Ángel M. Felicísimo from Mérida, España
‘Cause every circus has to have a lion, a tumbling acrobat, and a whip-wielding lion tamer. (Also, that lion tamer’s belly….WTF?!? Is it some sort of early medieval spaghetti strainer?)
Now that I’ve convinced you to visit Oviedo, I have one more piece of advice: take the bus. Now don’t get me wrong–the trains in Northern Spain are clean and comfortable with million-dollar views. However, every single train we travelled in was late, often annoyingly late, as in two hours late. The two ALSA buses we took, one into Oviedo and another out, were perfection: comfy and pleasant (even the bathrooms were decent) and they ran on time. The second bus even had an attendant who served us coffee. Free coffee service on a bus! Now that’s civilization.
How we got to Oviedo: bus from Santiago de Compostela.
Where we slept: Gran Hotel España. Price: €39.69 for a double. Recommended: yes.