‘Ser español es un orgullo’, the saying goes, ‘ser asturiano es un título.’ ‘If being Spanish is a matter of pride, to be Asturian is a mark of nobility'. Asturias, the sole patch of Spain never conquered by the Muslims is, some claim, the real Spain: the rest is simply tierra de reconquista (reconquered land).
This gorgeously green northern region has many similarities with Cantabria, its eastern neighbour. The jagged coast is wildly dramatic, strung with colourful fishing ports, such as Ribadesella and Cudillero, and more than 200 beaches. Inland, the mountains (including much of the Picos de Europa) soar high, the valleys run deep and the villages are delightfully rustic. For architecture lovers, Asturias is the land of the pre-Romanesque: modest but unique early medieval survivors. Asturias’ cultured capital, Oviedo, is historic and coolly contemporary, and it was at Covadonga that the Spanish nation first sprouted 1300 years ago.