Oviedo is delicious, exotic, beautiful, clean, pleasant, peaceful, and kind to pedestrians. It's as if it doesn't belong to this world, as if it could not possibly exist ... Oviedo is like a fairy tale.
-Woody Allen, quoted on a plaque near his statue in Oviedo; parts of his film Vicky Christina Barcelona were filmed in Oviedo
On the second full day of my northern Spain adventure, I unfortunately spent more time on the road than enjoying the sights. The weather was also overcast and rainy, a shock to my system after months of reliably sunny, blue-skied days in Madrid. But I'm not complaining, because it was worth the hassle of driving in the rain to see these three amazing UNESCO sites. Enjoy!
Despite spending the night in the capital of Asturias, I arrived late and left early, even forgetting to stop at the UNESCO-listed Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias on my way out of town (the whole reason for stopping in Oviedo!). Despite my rushed visit, Mango and I did enjoy a walk around downtown, taking in the beautiful old buildings and massively lush Campo de San Francisco park. People rave about how amazing Oviedo is, which surprises me because I didn't think it is as beautiful of a city as others in Spain; the city felt less welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists, and the car-free zones lacked warmth thanks to the monotonous new buildings that had tragically replaced grand, old buildings. All in all, though, Oviedo was a lovely stop.
At first glance, the Vizcaya Bridge doesn't look very exciting. Upon closer inspection, though, one realizes this is no ordinary bridge. The UNESCO-listed Vizcaya Bridge is "the first bridge in the world to carry people and traffic on a high suspended gondola and was used as a model for many similar bridges in Europe, Africa and the America only a few of which survive." It opened in 1893, boldly symbolizing marvels in architectural iron constructions of the Industrial Revolution with its lightweight and technologically-advanced twisted steel ropes. The Vizcaya Bridge continues to function just as it did one-hundred and twenty-three years ago, an astonishing testament to well-built public works.
My quick stop in Zaragoza was to see the UNESCO-listed Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon. Despite being the capital of Spain's Aragon region, Zaragoza felt more like a sleepy town with its narrow streets and well-kept historic buildings; this is one place I'd love to return to and explore. I only managed to visit two of the city's Mudéjar-style landmarks, an architectural style defined by a tasteful combination of Islamic and Gothic building design.