Oviedo (Spain)

History of Oviedo


Oviedo is a relatively "young" city. It was founded in the year 761 by King Fruela I, who ordered the occupation of the hill between the road that went to León. However, some archaeological studies speculate that its founding is older and that it could date from the Roman period.

What is certain is that at some point in the 9th century, Alfonso II transferred the capital of the kingdom of Asturias to Oviedo.

The Holy Ark

The city quickly acquired great importance because it became the headquarters of the Holy Ark, for which the city was fortified. Inside it, palaces, temples and a whole series of buildings were constructed.

In addition, one of the most important churches in Oviedo was designated to preserve the remains of Santiago de Compostela. This made Oviedo an important religious city that preserved relics of great value.
 
Cathedral of Oviedo (Spain)
However, in the 10th century, the advance of Christian troops during the reconquest led to the transfer of the capital of the kingdom of Asturias to the neighbouring city of León.

Despite losing political influence, Oviedo kept intact the aura of a holy city thanks to its important Christian relics and artifacts, which led a legion of faithful to visit the city, generating a splendid “religious tourism” industry from very early on.
 
Another important reason for the great visit of the faithful was that the route that reached Oviedo, and from there Santiago, was the safest way to avoid the continuous Muslim incursions in the area.

Oviedo's greatest moment of splendour was when, in 1388, King Juan I founded the Principality of Asturias, making the city his capital.

The reconstruction of Oviedo

With the arrival of the modern age in the 15th century, Oviedo suffered a certain isolation due to a decrease in pilgrims. However, the event that marked the new evolution of the city occurred in 1521 when a terrible fire broke out that devastated Oviedo.

This tragedy was used to change the layout of the streets from radial to octagonal and thus achieve an economic recovery for the city by repowering commerce.

In this way, the central area was redimensioned, gradually increasing its squares, streets and other buildings over the next 200 years.

This new renaissance of Oviedo translated into a new network of commercial and cultural links that reached its zenith in the 18th century, when the city experienced an intense cultural life and a new political influence.

The Napoleonic War and the 20th century

After the French invasion, Oviedo was the spearhead of territorial defence when the General Board of the Principality of Asturias was installed in 1808, declaring war on France and becoming a bulwark of triumph.

At the end of the conflict, Oviedo experienced a true take-off in the economic aspect during the rest of the 19th century. It boosted its economy by creating metallurgical foundries, factories and a whole range of commercial ventures thanks to its privileged geographical location.
 
Oviedo (Spain)
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oviedo significantly developed the tertiary sector, which had become latent during the conflict against the United States at the end of 1898, when the Oviedo shipyards had already launched up to four warships.

By the year 1930, the city had more than 870 operational business licenses thanks to the excellent communication routes that efficiently expanded rail traffic, road transport and a developed bus route.
 
Starting in 1934, intense political and social instability affected Oviedo as well as the rest of the recently created second Spanish republic. This situation worsened after that year’s violent skirmishes affected a good part of the city – a prelude to the bloody and terrible Spanish Civil War.

The Civil War and democracy

In 1936, Colonel Aranda, who was in command of the army, rose up and began what would become the Spanish Civil War.

It should be noted that Oviedo was the only city in northern Spain that was under the control of Franco's insurgents. The city was besieged by forces loyal to the republic until the rebellious forces from Galicia broke the siege and kept Oviedo safe.

From then on, the city was out of danger and there was no combat during the rest of the war. After Franco's triumph, the city was subjected to an ambitious redevelopment and restoration plan for its historic centre.

One of the most important moments in the history of Oviedo occurred in 1981, at the beginning of the incipient Spanish democracy, when the Prince of Asturias Foundation was created. It annually bestows the Prince of Asturias Award (currently the Princess of Asturias) to the best of the arts, sciences, letters and sports.

Since then, Oviedo has become a true Mecca in terms of art, culture and modernism. It is a thriving city with a high quality of life.
 
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    A Coruña
    Alicante
    Almeria
    Barcelona
    Bilbao
    Burgos
    Caceres
    Cadiz
    Cordoba
    Girona
    Granada
    Huelva
    Leon
    Madrid
    Malaga
    Murcia
    Oviedo
    Palma
    Salamanca
    Santander
    Santiago
    Segovia
    Seville
    Toledo
    Valencia
    Valladolid
    Zaragoza