The inhabitants of Puerto de Vega move, they love their town. 2.000 are just residents but they insist on preserving their history and urbanism, which leaves a trail of nineteenth-century romanticism hard to find in an Asturian town. It seems that we are going to meet the enlightened from another time with their robes and treaties.
The first impression you have when arriving in Puerto de Vega is pleasant above all. We found it at 7,5 kilometers east of the capital of Navia, communicated by the N-632. When we arrive our spirit is infected by the immaculate white of their houses. The nooks and labyrinths that form its streets and alleys, which in another similar enclave would be narrow or even tortuous, are here an orderly and clean entanglement for which it is a pleasure to walk and recreat. We can approach the central park «Benigno Blanco», with wide trees; discover the centennial and romantic Plaza de Cupido, the nerve center of the town on which the primitive fishing village settled and where the ancient beauty of mansions such as the Plaza »or the Columns» surprise; amaze us with the immense casino of 500 square meters of floor; cheer us up with their various Indian houses; or get to know first-hand the Church of Santa María, with a good number of jewels inside, not in vain it is known as the rural Baroque Cathedral.
Illustrious past of Puerto de Vega
Behind this harmonious facade, the town hides even more harmony among its people, a past and present very active, societal and contagious. It is not by chance that they are several illustrious characters born here, or proliferate cultural initiatives. Facts that also have not fallen on deaf ears. The public conscience has been awarded with the award «Exemplary Town of Asturias» which Prince Felipe delivers each year and which corresponded to Puerto de Vega in 1995. Three years later, at 1998, he was elected most beautiful town of Asturias. In this way, both its beauty and the friendly and enterprising character of its people have separate titles so that no one doubts it.
Perhaps it is not by chance that the illustrious Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos passed away in Puerto de Vega in 1811. The town gave him refuge when he had fled from the French and sick with death. On the facade of the mortuary house we find the coat of arms and two commemorative plaques, both dedicated to the illustrated. Also the Church Santa María exposes a mention in the form of plaque that reminds us where Jovellanos was buried, for three years, before being transferred to his native Gijón. The Municipal House of Culture «Prince Felipe» houses the Public Library «Jovellanos». The Gijón left a deep mark on this cult town, a street and a monument also bear his name.
In Puerto de Vega, you should not miss ...
The local economy is deeply linked to the sea, both to fishing and to industry derived from preserves, salted fish and marinades that once were firmly established in the port environment. The flirty fishing fleet rests in a picturesque harbor with wall included, battlements in perfect condition that stopped piracy in the Middle Ages and that protected the town against the French invasion three centuries later. In the vicinity of the port you can also visit the Baluarte walk y the viewpoint of La Riva. In the first, there is even more proof of the local tenacity to remain free of foreign invasions, we can see two eighteenth-century cannons and a monolith in honor of those who erected the Baluarte in 1588 along with several nautical pieces. In another beautiful place, in the corner of La Riva, we discovered a recreation of the table of dumpers made in 1992 to honor the local fishing heyday, including the whaling of other times. Here stands a monument with three floors loaded with history. Highlights the first known whaling contract, two imposing jaws four meters long from whales of about 30 tons. On the second floor an immense altarpiece "allegory of whale hunting", shows us clearly how the capture of these marine giants was. On the third level, a modern whale canyon stands out on a crenellated fence. Invented by Sven Foy, Norwegian sailor, in 1854 and amply tested on his ship «Spes et fides».
Another sign of maritime splendor of Puerto de Vega is the fact that between the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries stood out as a port of cabotage; arising here the first customs office that existed in Asturias.
We continue talking about unforgettable corners that this town does not lack, as the walk that takes us to the Chapel of the Watchtower, from where we get an unbeatable view of the port. It has a miraculous component, since it was founded by the Guild of Seafarers and Commerce towards the year 1605, rising in honor of Our Lady of the Watchtower, whose image, one day, appeared floating in the vicinity. Rescued by the sailors, today it is preserved restored in this place.
If in our walk through Puerto de Vega we decided to get closer to the popular culture of the area for a while, there is no problem either. The Juan Pérez Villamil Ethnographic Museum It will surely cover our appetite. The museum is located in the restored premises of an old canned and salted factory called «La Arenesca» that is now part of the Municipal House of Culture. Pick up a wide repertoire of themes, but here we highlight the collection of crafts trades that are exhibited on the ground floor. There we will know first-hand trades as ingrained as that of the springs that worked at the foot of the dock, the harvesters or spinning machines, the zapateiros, ferreiros, madñeiros, cesteiros, carpenters or cabinetmakers, or the canteiros or loseros.
To finally say that the love of its citizens has turned the town into a festive reference of the Asturian West. His patron saint festivities of Our Lady of the Watchtower summon an unusual expectation for four days, each one with its own name: the September 7 «The Eve», the day 8 «La Telayona», the 9 «La Telayina» and the 10 «La Jira». The devotion, how could it be otherwise, professes a virgin sailor and takes different forms between pagans and Catholics: songs, wine, cider, good food, processions and among other acts, the tribute to the most veteran sailor.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com