Talk about what to see in the Picos de Europa it is to do it of wonderful natural landscapes, villages full of charm and magnificent mountain routes. All this abounds so much in that mountainous massif that it is difficult for us to synthesize it for you.
Belonging to the Cantabrian mountain range, the Picos de Europa are a huge limestone formation that extends through the provinces of León, Cantabria and Asturias. Likewise, most of its places are integrated into the National Park of the Picos de Europa, which is the second most visited in Spain after Teide, on the island of Tenerife (here we leave you an article about this Canarian park).
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- 1 What to visit in the Picos de Europa: From spectacular gorges to traditional villages
What to visit in the Picos de Europa: From spectacular gorges to traditional villages
The Picos de Europa are made up of three massifs: the eastern one or Andara, the central or the Urrieles and the western or Cornion. We could not tell you which one is more beautiful, but we can tell you about the essential visits that you must do in all of them. Let's see them.
Covadonga and the lakes
If you access the Picos de Europa by Cangas de Onis, capital of the Kingdom of Asturias until the year 774, you will reach the mountain of Covadonga, a place of worship for believers and an unavoidable visit for those who are not due to its mythical and historical resonances.
On a huge esplanade, you will find the Basilica of Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga, a neo-medieval construction from the XNUMXth century that replaced the old wooden church. And also him Monastery of San Pedro, which is a Historic Artistic Monument and which still preserves Romanesque elements. For its part, Royal Collegiate Church of San Fernando It is from the XNUMXth century and the set is completed by the bronze statue of Pelayo, an obelisk with the Cruz de la Victoria, emblem of Asturias, and the so-called "Campanona", with its three meters high and 4000 kilograms of weight.
But, especially for believers, a visit to the Santa Cave, where the figure of the Virgin of Covadonga and the supposed grave of Pelayo himself. Continuing with tradition, it is said that the Goth took refuge in this place with his hosts during the Battle of Covadonga.
After visiting this impressive area, you can go up to the lakes, which are only twelve kilometers away. Specifically, there are two, the Ercina and the Enol and they are in a wonderful natural environment of mountains and green areas. You can go up to them by car (with limitations) or through magnificent hiking trails.
Poncebos and the Garganta del Cares, another wonder
Poncebos is a small mountain town belonging to the Cabrales council that you will reach through spectacular landscapes. It is full of charm, but its main quality is that it is at one end of the Ruta del Cares.
This tour unites you with Cain, already in the province of León, and has an approximate length of 22 kilometers. Also called Divine Throat as it runs between huge limestone walls, it has sections created by the hand of man.
Taking advantage of the erosion produced by the Cares River, parts of the rock were excavated at the beginning of the XNUMXth century to exploit the hydroelectric wealth of the Camarmeña plant. The result was a hiking trail so wonderful that it ranks among the most beautiful in the world.
However, you must bear in mind that it is a linear route, not a circular one. This means that, if you start it in Poncebos and you see yourself exhausted, you will only have two options: return to this town or continue to Caín. Anyway, the tour is wonderful.
Among the places that you can see if you do it, we will mention as examples the Amuesa Murallón or Trap Collar. But, just one kilometer from Poncebos, you will find the Bulnes funicular, which takes us to another place to see in the Picos de Europa.
Bulnes and the Urriellu
The rack railway or funicular takes you to the beautiful town of Bulnes, although you can also get there by a walking route through the Texu Channel. In either case, when you arrive at this wonderful village, an extraordinary natural spectacle will open up before you.
You will find yourself surrounded by peaks that seem to embrace you in a privileged environment where modernity seems not to have arrived. But you will also see stone houses arranged in cobbled alleys. If, in addition, you go up to the Barrio Alto, the views will be even more spectacular.
As if all this were not enough, Bulnes is one of the entrances to the Urriellu peak, popularly known as the Naranjo de Bulnes for the spectacular reflection that the sun makes on this mountain. You can do a hiking route to the refuge and, once there, if you like climbing, climb to the top, as it has several routes to do so.
But other hiking trails also start from Bulnes. Among them, the ones that take you to the Pandébano Col, the Sotres and Source of. Regarding the latter, we will talk about it later.
The Hermida gorge
Desfiladero de la Hermida Until now, we have told you about wonderful places in the Asturian part of the Picos de Europa. But the Cantabrian is not far behind in terms of natural environments and places full of traditional charm.
Good proof of this is the Hermida gorge, which runs for 21 kilometers between colossal stone walls and on the banks of the river deva. In fact, it is the longest in all of Spain. It occupies an area of more than six thousand hectares that has been classified as Special Protection Area for Birds.
But the imposing Hermida gorge is also important for another reason. It is the only access road from the coast to the beautiful district of Liébana, in which you will find many other things to see in the Picos de Europa. We are going to show you some of them.
Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana
Located in the municipality of Lebaniego de Chameleno, this imposing monastery is a place of pilgrimage, as is the case with Santiago de Compostela (here we leave you an article about what to see in this city). Like the Galician cathedral, it has a Door of Forgiveness and it is a national monument since 1953.
If we are to pay attention to tradition, it was founded in the XNUMXth century by Toribio, then bishop of Astorga. But more important to believers is that it houses the Lignum Crucis, a piece of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Some works of the famous Beatus of Liebana.
On the other hand, the monastery is the main construction of a set that complete the Holy cave, of pre-Romanesque style; the hermitages of San Juan de la Casería and San Miguel, from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries respectively, and the ruins of the Sanctuary of Santa Catalina.
Potes, another wonder to see in the Picos de Europa
Very close to the Santo Toribio de Liébana monastery is the town of Potes, a beautiful town that boasts the category of a historical complex and is the capital of the Liébana region.
One of its main attractions is its set of narrow and cobbled streets. In all of them, you will see popular houses typical of the area, especially in the Solana neighborhood. Bridges such as San Cayetano and La Cárcel will also attract your attention.
But the great symbol of Potes is the Infantado Tower, whose construction dates from the XNUMXth century, although the image it offers us today is due to the XNUMXth century reform that gave it Italian elements. As a curiosity, we will tell you that it was the manor house of the Marquis of Santillana, famous Spanish medieval poet.
You should also visit in Potes the church of San Vicente, whose construction took place between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries and which, therefore, combines Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements.
We end our tour of the Picos de Europa by telling you about this small town in the municipality of Camaleño. It is located at almost eight hundred meters of altitude and, to reach it, you can use a spectacular cableway it barely takes three minutes to make the journey.
In Fuente Dé you have an impressive gazebo that offers you wonderful views of the nearby mountains and valleys. But you can also get to the town by hiking trails that also have impressive landscapes. Among them, we will mention the ascent to the Alto de la Triguera, the circuit around Peña Comes Back or the so-called roads of Áliva and the ports of Pembes.
In conclusion, we have shown you some of the wonders of the Picos de Europa. However, as we told you, there are many more that we have had to leave in the inkwell. Among them, the town of Arenas de Cabrales, in Asturias, with its beautiful popular architecture and palaces such as Mestas and Cossío; the precious gorge of the Beyos, which marks the course of the river Sella and separates the western massif from the rest of the Cantabrian mountain range, or the Torrecerredo peak, the highest of the Picos de Europa.