From humble beginnings as a fishing village on the Atlantic Ocean coast (locally the Bay of Biscay) nearly 3,000 years ago, Gijón has blossomed into the largest city and major seaport of Asturias (province), Spain.
Cimadevilla is Gijón’s birthplace, the former village which retains much of its centuries old charm — from the Roman Therms of Campo Valdes to the Town Hall and statue of Don Pelayo, the first Asturian king, to the baroque-style Revillagigedo Palace (see photograph, below).
Atop Santa Catalina Hill stands Elogio del Horizonte — Praise of the Horizon — a house-sized modern concrete sculpture crowning the lookout between the two halves of Gijón. The monument, by sculptor Eduardo Chillida, has become a symbol of Gijón since its construction in 1990.
From the promontory, there are excellent wide-angle views of the coast and the Bay of Biscay. Facing inland, one can see the verdant hills, considered to be some of the greenest in Spain.
While the story is “if you stand just below it, you can hear the noise and the pounding of the waves,” the wind was blowing so strongly on our visit that we could just feel and hear the wind.
Gijón is a walking city — whether up the streets in the historic Cimadevilla neighborhood up to the promontory, or around the port and adjacent to the playas (beaches) that surround the city.
A city landmark, Palacio de Revillagigedo (the Revillagigedo Palace)is an impressive example of 18th century Baroque architecture (our 2 year-old grandson saw the photograph and remarked, “it’s a castle!). The building is now a vibrant culture center hosting interesting contemporary art exhibitions.
Also located in the historic Cimadevilla neighborhood, the Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower) provides a wonderful lookout point over the city. Built in 1572 atop the remains of a defensive tower that was part of the ancient Roman wall that once encircled the city, this pink structure has served many functions over time, including the town hall and a prison. Now it is home to the city’s municipal archives and an exhibition on Gijón’s history.
Adjacent to the Torre del Reloj was this fabulous splash of colors — in stark contrast the most of the surrounding historic sandstone colored Baroque buildings (for example, the Palacio de Revillagigedo, pictured above).