The citizen charisma of Gijón is lived doubly in one of its neighborhoods with more essence. Cimadevilla has always had, and still retains, a popular air, witness and protagonist of the most important historical events in the city. The winds originating in Gijón can still be seen on the facades and streets, as well as in a exceptional environment, always singular, that comes from yesteryear and that is full of stories of fishing, family treatment and mundanism in its thousand cider houses.
The Gijon neighborhood of Cimadevilla is a unique environment that is not easy to find in other historical peninsular areas, no matter how far the sea has been forged. Cimadevilla has not put obstacles to its development, it boasts tradition but it is also pure avant-garde. A work of Chillida: the Praise of the Horizon, the symbol of the city is already on its own merits. You can see where you look, the huge sculpture has a lot of horizon, it is different in each perspective and proposes to each look the cosmopolitanism of Gijón.
The Cantabrian and the urban hustle They have left indelible marks equally. But above all are the traces of its inhabitants: fishermen, cigar makers, artisans ... men and women shallow, which is how they are known to those born in this neighborhood. Its streets are apparently quiet during the day, but at night the transformation takes place and becomes a meeting and meeting place, restaurants and cider houses on every corner, and a large number of cocktail bars to reach the early hours. You can start with some crabs or bocartes, cheer up with cider, and if it tends, finish very late or very early, depending on how you look, with a good breakfast near the marina.
After knowing years of certain abandonment in their buildings, nowadays it is a pleasure to walk through its secluded streets and squares. The buildings have renovated their facades, they have washed their faces. More than two hundred buildings are specially protected and at least a dozen are part of the cultural and historical heritage of Gijón.
Route through Cimadevilla
We can make a planned tour of about two hours to soak up their typical seamanship and flavor. We will start in the beautiful Plaza Mayor presided over by the City Council, the setting for festive events and popular celebrations such as the Semana Grande or the Antroxu (Carnival). We crossed the arc of the western area and we headed to the marina, we came across the Monument to Don Pelayo (homage to the first king of the Asturian Monarchy that appears on the city's coat of arms), is in the center of the Plaza del Marqués. Here is located the Palace of Revillagigedo, from the 18th century, which surprises with its baroque beauty and which today is an International Center of Contemporary Art. It usually houses temporary exhibitions of great national and international merit and the works of talented artists always pass through its hall. It has attached to it the Collegiate Church of San Juan Bautista that serves as a stage for classical music concerts throughout the year. In Cimadevilla, cultural life takes place at the same level as its bustling environment.
We advance along the promenade Leisure port, sports port, with enviable and maintained facilities and a very beautiful environment that have turned it into a scale of numerous regattas. At the end of the walk, the jetty closes the harbor, when the sea beats with force is a spectacle that should not be missed because the waves exceed the retaining wall. We go up the well-known Hill of Cholo (This term was brought by emigrants who came from America) and thus we approach the alleys that the people of Gijón fill when the good weather arrives.
A few meters further on we can admire the Chapel of Solitude of the 17th century, spiritual headquarters of the Mareantes Guild, whose festival takes place in September. Dates in which the entire neighborhood bustles at parties and celebrations.
The avant-garde is located at the end of Artillería Street Northeast sculpture, made in cortén iron by Joaquín Vaquero Turcios. It symbolizes the most anticipated wind in Gijon summers, it is the one that pushes and sweeps the clouds and ensures a sunny day. Going up towards the Santa Catalina Hill, we went through what was once a military artillery complex and has now been recovered for the enjoyment of Gijons and visitors who are encouraged by a unique walk.
Praise of the Chillida Horizon
A final effort on the paths laid on the lawn to reach the top of the hill and enjoy the sculpture of the Praise of the Horizon, Chillida's work, we will be getting closer to the very center of this impressive concrete work, the place from which you can hear the sea, for a conch effect. Although the avant-garde of this work caused rejection at first, the work of Chillida has become an indissoluble part of the city. It appears like logo and obligatory picture of any brochure, poster, book or sticker that refers to Gijón.
We take the path that goes parallel to the sea and descend leaving behind the Club Astur de Regatas, private club that enjoys enviable views of the bay of San Lorenzo. When we reach the end of the hill we see one of the most recognizable places in the city, it is the Greater Church of San Pedro, of Gothic origin. It is located in the landscaped space known as Campo Valdés, where the statue stands in honor of the Emperor Caesar Augustus, thus recalling the Roman past of the town of Gigia. Almost in the basement of the temple are the Roman Baths, which have an interesting museum offering visitors a complete view of the Roman past of Gijón. A past that is still explored with excavations and unfinished archaeological programs.
Several nearby buildings call our attention, the main facade of the Old Fish Market (Today it houses municipal offices), the Torre de los Jove-Hevia and the Chapel of San Lorenzo de Tierra, both from the 17th century. The most striking of the latter is the proof in its stone facade the uninterrupted effects of marine erosion, century after century.
Museum Casa Natal de Jovellanos
Several buildings of interest congregate in the neighbor Plaza de Jovellanos, occupying a greater relevance the Museum Casa Natal de Jovellanos. Outstanding works of Asturian painting of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries hang from its walls, as well as contemporary sculptures. Inside, a beautiful interior patio does not go unnoticed. In him musical concerts take place with certain frequency. Attached to this house, and forming part of its structure, is the Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies, where rests the much-cited Melchor Gaspar de Jovellanos, standard of the Spanish illustration.
We left the museum and in the building opposite we found a hotel that has the honor of having been the headquarters of the Institute of Nautical and Mineralogy founded by Jovellanos.
We take Calle de los Remedios, on our left we see a tower with a pinkish tone. Is Clock Tower which, raised on the ruins of a Roman tower, was a jail of the judicial district of Gijón until the beginning of the 20th century. Today it is an archaeological museum and municipal archive, with a good number of photographs from different historical periods. We recommend looking out the windows on the top floor and enjoying the great views of the city.
We turn right, along the Calle de Campo Grande to end our walk in the Plaza de Arturo Arias, popularly known as the Plate of the Augustinian Recollects, from the Tobacco Factory or Campo de las Monjas. Conditioned at the end of the 90, it is the ideal place to enjoy cider with friends. The fishermen, the nets in the sun, the cigar makers and the women who daily went to the laundry, have given way to many young and old who meet in it to chat and enjoy, aired with the oldest and most modern breeze in the city .Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com