The attractions of Asturias’ largest city are well known: beaches, gastronomy and cider, a great atmosphere, music, surf… and much more. But the streets of the “Town of Jovellanos” retain a number of secrets of the most varied kind. Here we offer up 10. Although we could name a few more: a Celtic hill fort, a statue to a “crazy woman”, or the like. Sign up for a tour of the most curious Gijón/Xixón:
- A “kit” for killing vampires
We do not know whether bloodsucking creatures ran amok in the streets of the old quarter of Cimavilla or whether it’s because someone feared that one or other acolyte of Dracula’s landed in the port of Gijon. Nevertheless, the permanent collection at the Jovellanos Birthplace Museum includes a curious “Box for killing vampires”, an original work created by José María Navascués in 1975 which is related to other boxes that the artist made during the same period.
- A 2,000-year-old spa
It is no wonder that, already in the 19th century, the Spanish aristocracy chose Gijón to bathe in the sea at the city’s spas. Though, in Gijon, you can also discover how the inhabitants of the city relaxed at the time of the Romans. Right on the seafront of San Lorenzo Beach, there are Roman baths where coloured lights are used to evoke the cold rooms, warm baths, hot rooms and furnaces, explaining the Roman heating system.
- A deserted beach
San Lorenzo Beach and Poniente Beach are two of the most popular beaches on the Bay of Biscay. However, you can also find quiet, countryside coves in Gijón where you can enjoy a stress-free break with the sound of the sea as the only soundtrack. For example, Cervigón Path leads to beaches such as Serín Beach, a haven of peace and quiet accessed via its own footpath. Mind you, save your energy… as the way back up is quite steep!
- Spain’s oldest football stadium
Local people are very proud of their football team, Sporting de Gijón. But that pride also extends to “El Molinón”, the legendary, centenary football field, the oldest in Spain. El Molinón Tour has also recently been launched. This comprises a guided tour of the most interesting and unknown places in the stadium: the dressing rooms, the tunnel leading onto the field, the pitch, the pressroom and much, much more.
You will discover details and anecdotes about one of the longest-standing clubs in “La Liga”. And to top it all, the tour ends with a visit to the Real Sporting de Gijón Museum, a stroll through the history of the club and its major legend and figures, via unpublished images, audio-visuals and representative objects of each stage.
- An oak wood in the city
There can’t be many cities in the world that can boast of having an oak wood within the city limits. Gijón has the Tragamón Oak Grove, a listed Natural Monument. This beautiful wood with meadowland allows you to enjoy thick, dense vegetation to the north, where it crosses the River Peñafrancia, with its specimens of ash, willow and riverside species. In contrast, to the south the largest trees (oak and chestnut) are lacking in shrub. This is replaced by meadowland for the enjoyment of visitors, who can make use of the benches and tables to be found there. It forms part of Gijón’s Atlantic Botanic Gardens.
- A “Soho”-, “TriBeCa”- or “Le Marais”-style neighbourhood
Art galleries, vintage fashion and new designer clothes, craft beers, delicatessens, live music, retro bikes, tattoo studios and the like. The streets called La Merced, Begoña, Instituto, San Bernardo and Buen Suceso are experiencing a “second youth” with businesses that have opted for differentiation and design. This is the trendy district, now known as Gijón’s “Soho”.
Neither Star Wars nor Jaws nor Avatar! Gijón can surprise you with a collection of old photographs of Asturias… and in 3D, too! The fact that these photographs are more than 100 years old and the quality of the images make them really worth seeing. It is like diving into the streets of Gijón or Oviedo or other parts of Asturias of the early 20th century: stroll through a market, witness the arrival of King Alfonso XIII, sneak into a room or orphanage or gaze at Urriellu Peak alongside its first climbers comprise just some of the images that will surely be imprinted on your memory. The collection can be seen at the Pueblu d’Asturies Museum.
- A park with emus
Isabella the Catholic Park is one of the largest urban parks in Gijón, as well as its most representative. It was built over the old marshes of the River Piles. Peacocks roam wild and its ponds are home to swans and ducks, cormorants, egrets, kingfishers and all kinds of gulls. It also has an enclosed space with different birds, notable among which are emus, one of the treasures of this broad-ranging ornithological collection.
- The world’s largest elliptical church
The dome of the church has an estimated weight of two thousand, three hundred tons and rests on twenty pairs of criss-crossing brick ribs that support the structure without the need for columns. We are talking about the church in Gijón’s “Universidad Laboral” complex, which, in turn, occupies an area of 270,000 sq m and is considered Spain’s largest building. The complex was built between 1946 and 1956 to house an orphanage with the aim of educating those boys who had lost their fathers in accidents at work in mines. It is also the tallest building in the Principality of Asturias and the tallest stone building in Spain. It now houses the Laboral City of Culture, which boasts a wide range of cultural offerings.
- The first monument in the world dedicated to Fleming
Isabella the Catholic Park is home to yet another curiosity: the first monument in the world dedicated to the discoverer of penicillin, the work of architect Luis Moya. Fleming himself intended to come to Gijón to see his statue, but died in March 1955. Finally, it was his wife, Lady Amalia, who came to the opening in September that same year. It seems that, at the time, tuberculosis was rampant in Asturias and penicillin saved many lives. So every year, the neighbours of Cimavilla pay a visit to his statue during the festivities in September to lay a wreath.