Discovering Oviedo, Spain’s Monte Naranco
Yesterday I was going about my morning like usual…coffee and biscuits, reading and writing…but something was a bit off. My gut kept tugging on me to go for a walk outside. I just knew it would do me good to go for a relaxing walk…maybe there was something I needed to discover. So this intuition of mine and I headed out the door and just started walking towards the large hill that rises up to the North side of Oviedo. From my apartment it doesn’t seem that far and its green hillside and the white statue on the summit had been enticing me for the past week since I first arrived.
With my headphones in and tunes cranking, I walked along city sidewalks, past traffic, and simply kept turning and strolling until I was passing newly constructed apartment buildings. Large lilac bushes grew along the fences and I picked a sprig, rubbing it in my fingers and smelling it’s fresh, relaxing scent. The pavement gave way to dirt and gravel where I found myself at the bottom of the hill and I could see about half-way up the hill a path with people walking, running, and cycling. Making my way up along a renegade dirt trail, I came out onto the real trail to find that it was a nicely paved path. It ran to my right and left like a curvy ledge along the mid-section of the hill. Choosing the direction facing west and towards the larger neighboring mountains, I resumed my walk and making this fantastic discovery.
I came to learn that I was in the Naranco Recreational Area. There was a constant view that was peacefully stunning in its greens and blues, dotted by rooftops of red and browns below in Oviedo. Further out on the other side of the panorama were mountain ranges, one of which towered up into the large clouds that were hovering in the distance. Now I knew why I had felt such an urge to go for a walk….it was about time I discovered this haven of nature in Oviedo. And it was just what I needed. As much as I love the quaint older parts of the center of Oviedo, there is something refreshing and exhilarating about being up on a mountaintop. The openness from the vista reminds me of how big the sky is and gives me the feeling that I can breathe in more deeply.
At one lovely curve in the path, I came upon an area that had workout equipment…it seemed to be planted in the ground, almost like the trees were. People were busy using them. I, in the meantime, was busy taking pictures and couldn’t stop the silly grin that was on my face from how much I was enjoying my walk in this great place. Families, couples, elders, and dogs were busy enjoying the park with me. We passed under tall trees, full and dense of dark green leaves rustling in the cool breeze. The sun was warm on my face and every color of flower had their petals turned upward towards the bright blue sky and brilliant sunlight.
Spread out along the lower slope of the hill were countless small baby trees, saplings I think they’re called, that I later read are part of the reforestation and planting project for the recreation area. There were also remnants of ancient Roman walls on either side of the trail, signs of the Roman settlements that used to inhabit the hill. I later learned that higher up on the hill are also Romanesque monuments, such as the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Naranco that dates back to the year 842. I have been told that this is a must see when visiting Oviedo and although I did not see it on this walk, I plan to make a trip soon.
Another one of the famous monuments is the statue on the very summit that I had seen watching over me while in Oviedo. And no wonder I felt like it was watching over me…it is the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The figure is of Christ with his arms outstretched in a protective and loving embrace of the city of Oviedo. The massive structure was erected in 1950 and refers to the Catholic tradition of the Sacred Heart. This was new knowledge to me and I like what I can learn from its meaning. It refers to the physical heart of Jesus, as a symbol of divine love and as a reminder of the emotional and moral life of Jesus Christ and his love for humanity.
All in all, I spent a few hours walking from end to end of the trail, about 5 kilometers, and then back to the very middle where I had originally emerged. Here I stopped to sit still and take in the view and soothing sound of water flowing out from the remains of a Romanesque fountain. There was a stone shelter erected behind that looked to be not quite as old, yet had a romantic feel with its location under large oak trees and just behind the fountain. This was a popular spot for the trail since it provided enough water for not only human walkers to cool off, such as myself, but also for our canine friends to find relief from the warm sun.
So there I was…walking somewhere in between this divine protective love, embracing from above me, and the anciently beautiful town of Oviedo teeming with lives below. Yes…this is exactly where I needed to be right at that this time, in Oviedo…no wonder my heart was urging for me to get out and go for a walk. 🙂