A veritable natural paradise just five minutes outside the city
Equipped with all the amenities of a city as well as a wide range of cultural, gastronomic and sporting events and activities, Gijón also boasts a privileged “green” perimeter, made up of 25 rural parishes that comprise over 90% of the borough.
Our journey commences in the parish of Lavandera. Here you will find the Lavandera oak or carbayo, a natural monument they say had to be cut back because its branches invaded the church belfry, threatening to bring it down. The lands that we traverse now constitute a good example of what rural Asturias used to be like. There are still many traditional farmsteads, farmhouses with their stables, hórreos and vegetable gardens dotted with fruit trees, including orange and lemon trees that benefit from the mild climate of these valleys where the frost barely makes an appearance. This is where numerous “pumaradas”(apple orchards) can also be found, as well as several “llagares” (cider mills) that offer guided tours of their facilities.
The AS-248 leads on to Fano, where you can see the village’s interesting church of Romanesque origin. The Church of San Juan, dating from the 12th century, was appreciated and described in detail by Jovellanos.It has a highly developed Romanesque portal consisting of four arches supported by half Solomonic, half plain-shafted columns. In the pillar on the Epistle side (viewer's right) is a niche with a high relief which is a crude representation of Saint John. The semi-circular apse and the triumphal arch disappeared during its restoration in 1930.Although it suffered serious damage as a result of the Civil War, it did preserve its most important elements.
Continuing on towards Pola de Siero, the next village we come to is Quintana, of interest on account of its many hórreos and paneras (the latter being a six-or-more-legged version of the former), some of which have great ethnographic value. This village is also home to the Valdés Sorribas (also known as the Valdés-Fano) family mansion.
The predominantly rural parish of Valdornón borders with the neighbouring borough of Siero. Without doubt, the jewel in the crown is the parish church of Santa Eulalia de Valdornón. It was most likely built in the 12th century, and rebuilt in the 1950s. It conserves a number of elements of interest inside, such as the capitals of the columns that sustain the altar arches, which are decorated with plant motifs and typical Romanesque scenes of monsters. Outside the apse, a totemic head is still conserved. Carved in stone and of unknown origin, some researchers link it to the pre-Roman indigenous culture.
This tour of the south-eastern part of the borough reveals rural Gijón to the visitor and provides an insight into the not-so-distant past of the major city in the Principality of Asturias.