Covadonga Sanctuary. Between Leyend and History

Ancient history has left us too little written about the beginning of the cult of the Virgin Mary in the cave of Covadonga. We only know that has been here more than 1300 years, and it is necessary to go to looking for to the tradition, the news we have from that era.

Covadonga, the symbol of Asturias.

The valley of Covadonga is located between the sea and the Picos de Europa (Europe Peaks), near the town of Cangas de Onis, inside of eastern Asturias. Here was fought the “Battle of Covadonga” that would become one of the “foundation stones of Christian Europe” and “Cradle of reconquista”
In 722, the Arab government had already conquered the whole Spanish territory and was headed to invade lands of Gaul but in Asturias mountains a rebels haven resisted the invasion.

It is said that Don Pelayo King and his small Christian army defeated Muslim troops in these mountains thus beginning the reconquest.
The old chronicles put into the mouth of Don Pelayo these words: “In this small hill will be the salvation of Spain.”
In these abrupt and unknown to the Arab lands of Asturias, Muslim troops advancing through the valley of Covadonga when they were attacked from the slopes of the mountain. It is said that the Covadonga’s Cave was the place that King Pelayo used to take refuge and attack the troops.

King Pelayo and Christians, would carry with them an image of the Virgin, who settled in the Cave to implore her protection, or maybe they put it there after the victory in appreciation. Later on Pelayo, built in the same cave an altar to pay tribute to the Virgin.

The “Real Site” is formed by Covadonga Cave where is the image of the Virgin and a small chapel almost carved into the mountain rock.
Beneath it emerges a waterfall over a small pond placed under it and where pilgrims and visitors throw their coins and desires.

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To one side of the pond is the source of seven pipes. In Asturias, tradition and legends invade every little place
  “… Whoever drinks of the seven pipes, will marry within the year …” Although we can note that not all of them are fulfilled 😉

On the other side of the pond and going up steep stairs we reach the Virgin of Covadonga Cave, place of worship and pilgrimage in which the incessantly visitors passing doesn’t break the peace and the silence breathed there.
From here we will go through the mountain through a grotto excavated on it, and we will reach the other extremity to to go to meet the Basilica of Covadonga.



This great Romanesque style church impresses with its beauty but perhaps it do it more because of place in which it is located.
To our eyes is hard to understand that in this remote mount of Asturias, could emerge so imposing monument.
Around the temple there are several walks, trails and gardens of great beauty where you can walk while the stunning scenery that surrounds us is contemplated.

King Alfonso XII ordered its construction in 1877, placing it between the Auseva Mont and Ginés Mount , the project is due to Roberto Frasinelli (the “German from Corao”) for its construction a leveled of twenty thousand cubic meters of stone extract was necessary to reach the desired level.
The red limestone which it was built contrasts with the green forests that surround the place.

Covadonga, Hiking trails

FromCovadonga depart Two well-known routes:
‘The Ruta de la Reconquista’, labeled long-distance, GR-202 and Route Orandi, short routes, PR-PNPE-6.

How to get to Covadonga:

-From the village of Cangas de Onis 10 km
AS Highway 114 Address: Cangas de Onis-Panes And continue on the AS 262 Covadonga address

Get Directions

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