Gijón in Asturias is a wonderful coastal city with some gorgeous beaches and a rich heritage dating from Roman times.
Although pre-history has left its mark with some ancient dolmens outside the city, Gijón has several Roman ruins that have been discovered on archaeological digs and are now open to the public. The Campas de Torres Archaeological Site that dates to pre 490BC and was one of the main fortified settlements of Northern Spain, the restored Roman baths complex at Campo Valdo and the Roman Villa of Veranes are all wonderfully preserved.
During the Middle Ages some beautiful Romanesque churches were built but the Trastámara conflicts left the town almost completely destroyed. It wasn't until the 19th century with the dawn of industrialisation, when the shipyard and other factories sprung up, that Gijón truly began to prosper under the development plans of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, a philosopher of the Enlightenment.
Exploring the city will take you past several 17th century palacios and examples of 19th and 20th century buildings in a multitude of styles, such as the Renaissance-inspired Laboral University, as well as lots of different sculptures including Eduardo Chillida's Eulogy of the Horizon on the hilltop. Why not travel further and walk along the Roman road, the Ruta del Plata, an ancient paved road that was an important part of the Roman's communication network into Spain?
With such a rich heritage, it is not surprising that Gijón has many fine museums, with the Museum of Asturias, full of over 6,000 objects relating to the lives of the Asturian peoples and an image, document and audio library, a museum of traditional Asturian music where you can discover more about the traditional Asturian bagpipes, and an excellent aquarium with 67 aquariums containing sealife from a dozen different maritime zones around the world.
The Tourist Card, available from the Tourist Office affords you discounts of up to 40% in hotels, museums, specialised shops, restaurants, buses and more. You can also buy a special ticket that gives you 1 or 2 days travel on the city tour bus so that you can get on or off wherever you want. Many different kinds of tour are available in the city with guided tours, historical routes to follow and even tours of the cider houses where you can have a tasting of the local cider, or sidra as it is known, with a gourmet accompaniment.
Enjoy nature with the wonderful botanical gardens, or get sporty on land and at sea with everything from quad biking and horse riding to surfing and sea kayaking. Play beach volleyball on the beach or marvel at the beauty of Green Spain with a trip paragliding or in a hot-air balloon.
Gijón is home to an organic and crafts market every second weekend of the month, whilst there are regular weekly markets selling local produce and crafts with shopping centres in the heart of the city. Gijón is a city that enjoys its food and has an especially sweet tooth with 65 patisseries across the city.
Why not buy the Gijón Gourmet vouchers and enjoy a meal of fine dining or try the Sweet-toothed Gijón vouchers where you can try 5 or 10 local delicacies? Pastries, chocolates and ice cream abound and fish and seafood are high up on the menu alongside favourites such as fabada, a stew of salt pork, beans and chorizo. Other specialities are cheeses, and the local cakes Tarta Gijónesa and Tarta Charlota with a glass of local sidra to drink.
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