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San Emiliano, the lost village of Allande

In search of the hidden medieval

San Emiliano, the lost village of Allande

In search of the hidden medieval

We propose here a surprising encounter with the legend. Walking through a town that, although inhabited, gives off at first glance a ghostly air, and not by sinister, but by unreal. It is difficult to convey the feeling of this place with words. The descriptions hardly matter, not even the village itself has worthy references on the shelves of the modern information society.

Photo report of: Alex Badía


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Look for it on the internet and you will not get more than four sentences about it. Display the map of Asturias, sit on the council of Allande. If you want to find it fast move your index finger in the vicinity of the neighboring council of Grandas de Salime. Pass the reservoir. The village is before the mythical Alto del Palo. If we come from the East, like wise men in search of a spiritual treasure, then: after the Stick. Be as it is a lost point in a large mountainous municipality of 370 square kilometers and hardly 2.000 inhabitants: Pola de Allande.

What do we find in San Emiliano?

Let us know on the internet and in other means of documentation that San Emiliano, the village in question, is the seventh population nucleus of the municipality. Although, we were left without knowing if it has 5 or 500 inhabitants. Finally we decided to get closer to know what it really is, demographically and sociologically speaking. The road goes up and down. We know, because we have read it before leaving, that on this complex orography of Paleozoic origin extends a Nourished oak, beech, chestnut and birch vegetation. Although we also regret, as we have learned from other sources, that the autochthonous flora has been partly replaced by repopulations of pines. Everything is there, we see it with our own eyes up the road, down the road. The books say that in the vicinity there is a great fauna of wild boar, grouse, raptor, hare, roe deer and even a bear. And we do not doubt it. Just before parking on the outskirts of the town we came across some somewhat abandoned vineyards. In this, the four lines that speak of San Emiliano are also right: «the cultivation of the vine, introduced in the area in the eleventh century by the Benedictines, is little more than a memory».

We contemplate the village before entering. A magical halo the crown. It is an elongated and sinuous low cloud like the road we have left. A lady is coming. Pull a rope to which a cow is attached. The cowbell passes by us as if it were in another dimension. She greets us with her hand and takes us out of self-absorption. Goodbye, very good.

We enter stealthy in the town, without making us notice, only with our reflections and our intimate hypotheses. If the fog envelops us we will have achieved more authenticity in this journey, but of doubtful return, to the Middle Ages. If we go in the cold months we will leave doubt before time: the smoky chimneys tell us that there is human life there. And yes, all of a sudden two children go by all on their bicycles: bicycles!

Typical houses of San Emiliano

As we get into the heart of this ancient town, we already see another neighbor, as if he had felt our footsteps hundreds of meters before and now decided to go out to meet us to greet us and get us out of doubt. We also greet not to be discourteous. There comes a time when someone invites us to a native wine in a winery that used to occupy a block before. We pull again the manual: «the traditional house in Allande responds to the type of quadrangular block-house with two floors, which includes the house and the stable in the ground floor».

It could be the effect of the wine, almost a mysterious elixir, that we return to the elements and the mental fog has dissipated. The houses then appear, with walls and slate roofs. They are known but for some reason much more rustic than anywhere else. Here the typical house of the Asturian West is mixed with the medieval masonry everywhere, And the beautiful granaries and bread boxes despite belonging to the eighteenth or nineteenth century, more seems to offer service to former vassals of the fifteenth. Their signs are ancestral and we fail to interpret them because perhaps this is also part of the legend of San Emiliano. As much we know this: "There are very notorious inscriptions, with various ornamental and symbolic motifs, that characterize a decorative style that is known as the Allande style."

In the absence of further clarification by the documentary filmmakers, we find a certainly ambiguous sign: «San Emiliano was declared an artistic and picturesque ensemble in 1971». Picturesque? At least we have a specific date. It seems that since the 16th century in which the Casa de La Torre is cataloged, until 1971, time had passed silently with no one to date it, and that from 1971 until our arrival nothing else had happened in this temporary tunnel.

We have quoted the House of the Tower. You are right. Of course it does not go unnoticed: «This stately complex is organized around a quadrangular tower, with three floors and built in the 16th century, to which two smaller bodies are attached, one contemporary of the tower and the other somewhat later . The Tower sports four shields corresponding to some of the most powerful families in Allande ». We already have another fact: powerful families. The truth is that we already assumed it. In general the buildings of San Emiliano are not anything. Gentlemen, there are them here, or at least, meet them. Is also the House of Saints, its Romanesque churchEtc., etc.

In short, our walk becomes a vicious and allegorical circle around our own ghosts. We ended up seeing extensions of land in the vicinity dedicated to planting the cereal. But someone tells us that this is no longer the case in modern times. And they also assure us that self-consumption and vegetable gardens are outdated and that donkeys are in danger of extinction, but some of this still exists in San Emiliano. A protected space in the depths of Allande and history, that could also be just a dream.

We carry our video cameras in case anyone doubts it. We only hope that the objective registers something more than fog when we are gone and we want to show it in the living room of our house.

Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com


coordinates Latitude: 43.2582054 Length: -6.8297195
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