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Western asturias (I) and the old pilgrim's way to santiago

This route, which is a very long one, will take us to one of the loveliest parts of Asturias, an area rich in art and culture and one of extraordinary beauty.

We leave Oviedo by the N-634 going towards Grado. Before reaching this town, we can see the bridge of Peñaflor and the Romanesque Church of San Juan de Peñaflor, built in the 13th century. In Grado, a town famous for its "tocinillo de cielo" custard creams made with egg yolk and sugar syrup), we should visit the 18'h century Chapel of Los Dolores and the palace of Valdecárzana next to it. Back again on the route, we can branch off to see the palace of Dóriga, built in the 16th century, and then back on the main road we go on to Cornellana. Here we can see the San Salvador Monastery, with its Romanesque church, remodelled in the 17th century, a beautiful monastic facade and a two-tiered cloister built well into the 18th century.

Salas is the next stage on our journey. This town has an extremely interesting old quarter in which both the 14th century tower and the 16th century Collegiate Church of Santa María are particularly noteworthy. The latter was built on to in the 17th century and inside contains the tomb of Archbishop D. Fernando de Valdés Salas, the work of Pompeio Leoni, and a 17th century altarpiece by Luis Fernández de la Vega. The former palace of Valdés Salas has been restored and converted into a hotel and restaurant.

At the top of La Espina Pass, from where the views are magnificient, we take the AS-216 by-road towards Tineo. This town, with beautiful scenery on all sides, whose commercial activity goes back to the Middle Ages, is famous for its ham industry. You should not miss a visit to the palace of the García-Tineo family (14th century), the Meras Palace (16th centurv) and the former Franciscan Monastery, today the Church of San Pedro, which was remodelled during the Baroque period but conserves the original porch and doors.

From Tineo we go on to the Monastery of Obona, built between the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century.

Along the same road we will come to Bárcena with its monastery and at San Miguel, founded in the 10th century as a family monastery and at one time the Priory of Corias. Its church, though very altered, may date hack to the 13th century but next to the south door it conserves a 10th century inlaid epitaph belonging to the Countess Arangonti, a member of the founder family of the monastery.

We can go on to Pola de Allende either directly from Bárcena or go back to Tineo and get there by the AS-217. In Pola de Allande lies the Palace of the Cienfuegos Peñalba family which was remodelled in the 15th century by Rodrigo de la Rúa Cienfuegos an accountant of the Catholic Monarchs. The parish church is also very interesting and was remodelled in the 16th century by order of D. Rodrigo.

From Pola de Allande we can head on to Grandas de Salime through the Pola Pass, where there is some amazing scenery.

But our own route must take us to Cangas de Narcea and so we must take a small road along which we can visit both the Romanesque Church of Santa María de Celón containing 16th century paintings and the nearby San Chuís Castro (prehistoric fortified settlement). We then link up with the AS-14, which takes us to San Bautista de Corias, a Benedictine monastery with a 16th century church and sacristy. The cloister and monastic facades are from the 18th century.

Almost inmediately afterwards we arrive in Cangas. This town retains several interesting buildings: the Collegiate Church of La Magdalena, designed by Bartolome Fernández Lechuga in 1639; the Palace of Omaña, built in the 16th century; the Palace of the Count of Toreno, built in the 17th century (nowadays the Town Hall ); and the 18th century Palace of Peñalba. Cangas can be taken as the starting point for two interesting trips which will take us to the vicinities of the Muniellos Forest (a Biological Reserve), to San Antolín de Ibias and to the National Reserve of Degaña.

Going back along the AS-15 to Tineo, about halfway along, we reach a turn-off to Llamas de Mouro Before we get to this village, we go through Jarceley, whose parish church contains Gothic Stations of the Cross and where there is a 17th century palace with an adjoining chapel. When we get to Llamas we must not miss a visit to the potter's workshop where the justly famous black pottery is made.

Back again on our route we arrive in Tineo and then we can head back to Oviedo.

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