Gijón lies 29 km from Oviedo, Asturias, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and boasts a beach, town, and green open spaces.
While Oviedo is the capital of Asturias, Gijón is the largest town, with more than 250,000 inhabitants, and during the week of 15 August one might even say it reaches a million. A maritime and industrial town; Gijón can be off-putting for its abundance of concrete, but at the same time will be attractive for its history, culture, and enormous beaches; key assets for the largest town on the Costa Verde.
Gijón lies on the Atlantic coast: In the summer its beaches are packed with Madrileños (people from Madrid), and those escaping the stifling heat from cities elsewhere in Spain. Protected by the surrounding mountains, Gijón has a mild climate, sometimes wet, but which attracts Spanish tourists. To enjoy the best views of the town, head for the hills: climb to the Cerro de Santa-Catalina park, also known as Atalaya, from where you can admire a view over the sea to the horizon. From the highest point in the Providencia park; surmounted with a sculpture by Eduardo Chillida, “Elogio del Horizonte” or “Praise of the Horizon”; the silhouette of which has become the emblem of Gijón. you will also see the mountains and the Pilès beyond (the river that meets the sea at Gijón) this is the best viewpoint over the town.
If you like walking, there is a trail which lets you to discover Gijón from above, bit by bit, from the mountain to the sea. Starting for example from Rinconin, after the Pilès where the cliffs are highest; After the Ethnographic Museum Pueblo de Asturias and the Isàbel la Católica park, follow the sea-front along the famous Muro de San Lorenzo (the name of the beach which hugs this popular promenade), a vast expanse of sand, often packed in summer because it is sheltered from high tides.
At the end of the beach, the Mirador de Campo Valdès close to San Pedro church, is another beautiful viewpoint. From the other side of the Cimadevilla area, you come to Punta Liquerique (dam) then to Paseo del Muelle, which surrounds the marina. A bit further on, El Musel is the trading port of the town; Dàrsena Vieja the original village fishing port. If you keep going, you will get to Gijón’s second main beach, Poniente.
It is obvious that the old town is where you will find the most interesting buildings, in stark contrast to the brutal 70-80s edifices, which disfigure much of the coast despite recent improvement efforts. The Cimadevilla area, the oldest in Gijón, is a charming village in the city, that mixes grand buildings with streets bustling with bars. Wander around the Paseo del Muelle; on Plaza del Marquès you will see, in addition to the monument to Pélage, the “King of Gijón,” the Palace de Revillagigedo and the Collegiale San Juan next door.
Also go to Plaza Mayor, where the Town Hall sits surrounded by lovely arcades and ochre buildings, where evening concerts are often held. In Plaza de Jovellanos, with its museum; wholly dedicated to an illustrious child of the town, you can admire a 16th century clock tower. Climb the alleys by Atalaya, toward the old tobacco factory. Don’t leave the area without at least wandering the Calle Corrida, the most commercial; see the San José, Sagrado Corazón de Jesus, or San Lorenzo churches. If you like museums you will be spoilt for choice: the Juan Barjola, the Railway, or the Nicanor Piñole foundation.
It is good to live in Gijón; in addition to the wonderful history, culture and leisure aspects of the town, there are also many must-see events: sometimes sporty, usually festive, but there is usually something for all tastes. Regularly, a barber’s race takes place in Gijón; an opportunity to appreciate some magnificent topiaries competing for victory. Mid-July, the Semana Negra is a fair where la fiesta blends with culture, seminars, concerts and other attractions.
It is in mid-August that the town really parties: The “Semana Grande,” or “Big week”, as the name suggests, is a grand event: concerts in the Plaza Mayor, or on the Playa de Poniente; bullfighting, Feria de Muestras (Business fair) and to close festivities, a firework display on 15 August, to be seen on the Playa de San Lorenzo, or ideally from a boat on the sea.
The summer season finishes at the beginning of September with horse racing; hosting the cream of the equestrian world, and a traditional cider festival; because the Asturians like to be different. Mid September, thirsty revellers pour bottles of cider held in one hand high above their heads into glasses held low in the other, to aerate the drink consumed before sidrerias, on the pavement and even on the beach. Abstinence is rather difficult, as Asturia is famous for, and proud of, its cider.
What a great place to move to, when a change of scenery and culture is required, on top of the fact that now is the perfect time to invest in property in Spain.