Gij贸n is a coastal industrial city and a municipality in the autonomous community of Asturias in Spain. The craggy and irregular coastline contrasts sharply with the gentle landscape of the municipality's interior. Gij贸n has a priviledged geographic position as it located only minutes away from the towns of Oviedo and Aviles and only half an hour away from the airport. Gij贸n is also home to one of Spain's largest shipping ports. It is considered to be the maritime capital of Asturias.
Places of interest in the city of Gij贸n and its surrounding area
Gij贸n is one of the most modern and cosmopolitan cities in Asturias, with a rich culture and lively population. The city has a lot to offer visitors, from numerous museums and beaches to buildings of particular tourist interest.
The city has a wide range interesting of museums. Some of the best include:
- The Nicanor Pi帽ole Museum - an art museum;
- The Evaristo Valle Museum - a museum dedicated to the work of a local painter, housed in a mansion in the outskirts of the city;
- The International Bagpipe Museum - containing exhibits of bagpipes from around the world, where visitors can learn about the Asturian musical heritage and bagpipes;
- The Juan Barjola Museum - dedicated tothe works of another local painter, interested in avant-garde art;
- La Boral Centro de Arte y Creaci贸n Industrial - an exhibition centre for contemporary art, science, technology, etc.
The city's Cimadevilla neighbourhood also offers a wealth of cultural attractions and monuments, such as the Collegiate Church of San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), the chapels of La Soledad and Los Remedios and the Revillagigedo Palace. The "Eulogy of the Horizon" sculpture, designed by the artist Eduardo Chillida in 1990, is also located in Cimadevilla.
Other places of interest in Gij贸n include: The Universidad Laboral, the city's university and "Centre for Contemporary Art", designed by the architect Luis Moya Blanco; The Campo Valdes Roman Baths, an underground excavation of the Roman baths at the original Campo Valdes site (also includes a museum); The Campa Torres Archaeological Park, which contains the remnants of a pre-Roman hill fort and an exhibition centre displaying finds such as pottery as well as information about the fort and the people who lived there.
Nature and active tourism
Gij贸n also has a lot to offer visitors in terms of nature and active tourism. The coastal area around the city is home to various different beaches, while the city tself has two main stretches of sand. Playa de Poniente is the smaller of the two, while Playa de San Lorenzo is a very large beach with a promenade, tourist office and ornamental gardens (Jardines de Nautico).
The city also contains a number of popular parks and green areas. There is a large park called the "Cerro de Santa Catalina" above the city's old quarter, in addition to the "Jardin Botanico Atlantico" botanical garden, outside the city centre. These botanical gardens cover 25 hectares and have 30,000 different varieties of plants. The oldest parts of the gardens date back to 1870.
The Estaci贸n N谩utica Gij贸n Costa Verde offers the possibility of sailing, scuba diving, boat trips, bird-watching, etc.
Traditional local cuisine is typically wholesome and hearty, concentrated around Asturian home cooking. The rich bean stew of Fabada Asturiana, which consists of fabes (white beans), chorizo sausage, lac贸n (shoulder of pork), morcilla (black pudding), tocino or pancetta (pork fat) and saffron is a popular local dish. Another gastronomical favourite is Queso de Cabrales (Cabrales Cheese), a strong blue cheese. Soups are also popular, as are the local casadielles pastries. Cider is the common drink as it is the hallmark beverage of Asturias.
Fiestas and festivals in Gij贸n
Gij贸n has many annual festivals and local events, although the main festival season is spread throughout the summer months. The largest and most popular festivals in the city include: El Antroxu festival, held annually on the last Tuesday before Lent (called Carnaval Tuesday); The festival of San Juan (Xuan), which is traditionally celebrated on mid summers night, and involves lighting a huge bonfire. It is one of the cities biggest events; Semana Negra (Black Week), celebrated in late July/ early August; and the fiesta of San Miguel, which takes place on 29th September.
Gij贸n also hosts a number of more modern cultural events, orientated around the arts, music and cinema. The most famous of these is probably the Gij贸n International Film Festival, which was created in 1963. The festival comprises a series of events such as courses, panel discussions, q&a sessions, daily concerts and live music parties. It is aimed at promoting the Asturian filmmaking industry.
A brief history of Gij贸n
The earliest records of Gij贸n date back to the fifth century, when a settlement developed at Campa Torres and then extended towards to coast to the area that is now the city's port. Early settlements saw people living in "castro" like village forts comprised of round stone huts with defensive walls and moats. During the Roman period, these early settlements were expanded to cover an coastal outcrop known as "Santa Catalina", which offered strategic trading adventages, although the area was prone to attacks.
The settlements were further expanded during the period of the Visigoth empire in the seventh century. Gij贸n was a Christian settlement by this stage as Asturias remained free from the rule of the Islamic Arabs.
In the early fourteenth century, Gij贸n inadvertently became the base of rebellions against the crown. A siege, caused by these rebellions and lasting for several months, saw the town largely destroyed.
In the early seventeenth century, fortifications were built as well as many of the city's first monumental buildings. In the eighteenth century, Gij贸n was allowed to trade with the Spanish territories of South America.
The city was briefly occupied by French troops in 1808, but by that stage the city had began to increase in status and prosperity.
In the following decades, the city developed an improved transportation and communication network and established a town planning scheme.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Gij贸n gained an important rail link to Madrid along with investment in the manufacture of all kinds of products from beer to tobacco. Gij贸n continued to thrive and expand well into the twentieth century, until it sustained heavy damages in the civil war. However, since the Franco revolution, Gij贸n has again recovered and ascended to properity thanks to its booming industries and iron and steel production.