The Camino Primitivo, the original pilgrim route, started in Oviedo. The Camino Primitivo is apparently a difficult route of c.310kms through mountainous country, and it seems likely to me that it began from the Cathedral in Oviedo. The Cathedral is a complex building which cannot possibly be shown or understood in one brief visit so this is just a taste.
The first building on this site was a Pre-Romanesque Basilica; then, in 780AD, King Fruela I of the Asturias founded a Cathedral on the same site. Today’s Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo dates from the 12C and has been developed and changed over the centuries.
Inside the Cathedral
The main altarpiece of 1512-17 was made by Juan de Balmaseda, Guillermo de Holanda and Esteban de Antwerp and it glows in the subdued light inside the building.
A statue of San Salvador of the 13C is particularly special to pilgrims, but there are many beautiful things to see inside the Cathedral. The stained glass above the clerestory, the chapels in the ambulatory, the rose window above the organ at the West Door, and so on. Sadly this was another church with an entrance fee and ‘popping’ in and out was not possible as a passing visitor.
The Cloister of the Cathedral
The Cloister dates from 1300-1440 and, like all these old cloisters, is peaceful and quiet. At ground level it is Gothic in style and replaced an earlier Romanesque cloister. An upper floor was added in the 18C. A Diocesan Museum accessed from the Cloister is well worth visiting.
The Chapter House
Altarpiece of the Lamentations
This altarpiece in the museum was on the tombstones of Juan de Candamo and de las Tablas and his wife Catalina González de Nava. He was the Master of Works in the Cathedral from 1458 to 1489,
Camara Santa in the Cathedral in Oviedo
Alfonso II commissioned the Camara Santa in the 9C to house important relics. It is a double-storey building with no internal connection between the two levels. In the upper chamber, the Chapel of San Miguel, there are the most beautiful carved columns which were added in the 12C. The lower chamber is the Crypt of Santa Leocadia. The Camara Santa is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Victory Cross dates to the 9C and was a gift to the Cathedral by King Alfonso III. Also in the Camara Santa is the Arca Santa, dated to the 11C/12C, and used to protect sacred relics. It is built of oak and covered in silver-gilt.
Exploring is hard work which demands a little refreshment. We also enjoy ‘people-watching’ and so we settled down in a cafe overlooking the busy square. This was our ‘go-to’ place and on our third visit the waitress took out the glasses before we ordered!