Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Oviedo and Naranco, Asturias (Day 2 - morning) - San Julian de los Prados, San Miguel de Lillo and Santa Maria del Naranco - The 15th of June 2013

We got up very early and therefore decided to  set out almost immediately. Realising that San Julian de los Prados church was at a considerable walking distance but the area the Hotel was located at provided the adequate setting for walking we decided to take the risk.

Following a hard one hour walk we finally reached the Plaza de las Palomas, very close to which stood San Julian de los Prados.

Upon reaching it we didn't immediately notice what a little "jewel" it was, mainly because of the rather "austere" façade.

Santullano, as it is often referred to is a Pre-Ramirense church, which has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Being the largest Pre-Romanesque Church in Spain it is said to have been built between 812 and 842 in honour of the Egyptian martyrs Julian and Basilissa.

Its interior which I was not allow to photograph is covered in 1200 year aniconic frescoes which reveal a mixture of Pagan and Christian influence.

Soon after the guided visit we took a bus to the main Train Station, so as to get another bus going up to Naranco mountain just 3 kilometres from Oviedo.

Upon reaching the last stop we found ourselves in the middle of Naranco mountain overlooking a huge private sports ground from where we had to make our way down a rather steep slope surrounded by vegetation which  at times looked  thrilling and simultaneously frightful.

San Miguel de Lillo church unexpectedly came into sight as we walked onto a wide open grass area. Consecrated by Ramiro I and his wife Paterna in the year 848 it is said to have been originally dedicated to St. Mary, though its worship was passed to a nearby Palace in the 12the century leaving this Church dedicated to Saint Michael.

The extraordinary lattice work on the windows, namely the one on the Southern wall was worth of notice. Though we were not allowed in as it was closed there was something about it that mesmerised me. The scenario setting was ideal for a certain religiousness to settle i, and having stopped on its surrounding grounds after having walked for hours brought an inner peace I hadn't felt for a while.

We walked a further 150 metres till we reached the Church of Santa Maria del Naranco, like the previous ones also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Having been built as a Royal Palace and part of a larger complex it is said to have been completed in 848 and only converted into a Church at the end of the 13th century.

Although Pre-Romanesque it is considered innovative in its stylistic approach with its slender shape, varied decoration and the introduction of elongated barrel vaults.

I climbed to the upper floor whose access was via a double exterior stairway but once more couldn't unfortunately visit it as it was also closed, which I felt was a pity once I had been looking forward to seeing its exquisite interior decorative architectural elements.

We sat down at a rural-like restaurant and had another "Fabada Asturiana" this time with clams, which tasted really good. We were served a "rich" red wine glass and in no time had regained forces to walk down to the bus stop which was still a long walk away.

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