Sunday, September 27, 2009

Casco Antiguo

Saturday I decided to get up early and take a walk to the old part of Oviedo, which is called the Casco Antiguo in Spanish. I'm not sure why, because casco means helmet, but I guess it also means town. Anyway, Amparo told me it was a 15 minute walk, and that I was in luck because it was market day, so to watch out for my wallet. There's no foreshadowing here, I'll tell you now I didn't get robbed. Yet.
OK so off to the Casco Antiguo I went, via a huge hill that I already walked up once when I was going to register as an international student. I found a mall that's four stories tall with the top ground level with the top of the hill and the bottom opening out at the bottom and I was really tempted to go there first and take the escalators up instead of climbing, but it's pretty far out of the way. And I felt really lazy just for considering it. When I got near the Campo de San Francisco, which is a big park in the middle of Oviedo, I got sidetracked and walked down a pedestrian street for a ways. I think it was the statue at the beginning of the street - it beckoned me.

Seriously, how could I not walk down this street? This statue is called "Culis Monumentablis" but is colloquially referred to as El Gran Culo. So I took a few photos of the huge butt statue, saw a few places called "casinos" that turned out to be shoe stores, and explored El Corte Ingles, which is the Macy's of Spain, before heading into the Campo to look around. It's really nice and shady with tons of huge trees and benches, and I also found this cool old doorway to a church. We don't have the full story on this yet, Amparo said she's never seen it but it looks like it's been there a while. I vaguely remember something about a church being destroyed in some war and being reconstructed here, but I don't know which war or when.

So I finally decided to go over to the old town center, which is easy to find because you can see the steeple of the cathedral from just about everywhere I've been so far. I was pleasantly surprised to find the plaza mostly empty of people and completely devoid of people selling touristy crap, but it turns out that was because of the market going on a few streets over. The Cathedral of San Salvador is really impressive; it's a mixture of architectural styles and the oldest part is also from around the 8th or 9th century. The plaza isn't that big so it was hard to get the whole thing in one picture. Also I didn't get to go inside yet because I wasn't sure I was appropriately dressed in my t-shirt and jeans.

Catedral de San Salvador

Details of the vestibule of the Cathedral (click any picture for a larger version)

I wondered around the streets of the old town for about an hour, saw a lot of disco bars (weird, right?) and happened upon some sort of folk performance with bagpipes and traditional costumes, but it was really crowded and I didn't take any pictures. Plus I don't really like bagpipes, I think they're annoying (don't tell any Asturians! Blasphemy!) Finally I found the market, which has food stalls inside a glass-roofed structure and a bunch of tents selling clothes in the surrounding streets. Kind of a let down, because I didn't need any secondhand bras, but my dad would have loved the stalls selling fish. There were signs saying not to take photos, but it's pretty easy for me to pretend I don't understand Spanish (sometimes I don't even have to pretend!)

Wrapping up, I made my way back to the huge hill via a short-cut I found, which means in the future I only have to climb it halfway, and then climb the rest on another street. I cut a few more streets over to go back a new way because I knew where I was relative to campus, and when I came around a corner I happened upon the original fountain of the city of Oviedo, which was located just inside where the city walls once stood. It would appear that ancient buildings spring from the ground as I approach! The rest of my walk was uneventful and I returned to the apartment to take a long nap so I could stay up late and watch the Tech-Miami game on my 15 euro subscription to

Ancient fountain of Oviedo, dating from . . . (drum roll please . . . ) THE 9TH CENTURY AD!! Thanks for playing folks, see you next time on "All This Stuff Was Built At The Same Time!"

P.S. - Yes I noticed this post had a very silly tone, perhaps because I spent all day today sitting in an "orchard" with Amparo and her brother. Fun story, I'll probably tell it tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great day to me. I love your pictures. Can't wait to hear the orchard story. Aunt Connie