The first thing we have to see in Oviedo is the Cathedral, just to be clear. You have to stand in front of it and stop to think that it is quite miraculous that it is still here, after all the things it has gone through.
We could probably say the same about the city, because from the year 761, when two monks founded the monastery that preceded the population, until 794, when the Muslims destroyed everything that was here, just three decades had passed. In other words, Oviedo had a complicated life from its birth, and soon they surrounded the city with walls to protect their churches and have more strength to fight against the enemy.
The famous Holy Chamber was built in those times, previous to the Romanesque one, it is an ancient structure that forms part of the complex that today is the Cathedral of San Salvador. Also from the ninth century we have the amazing palace of Santa María del Naranco and the Church of San Miguel de Lillo, on the outskirts of Oviedo, which comes to say something that few places could say then: in here there were kings able to face the Carolingian monarchs and raise magnificent stone buildings that would challenge time.
San Julián de los Prados, in Santullano Square, is another pre-Romanesque survivor. And all these illustrious buildings marked the direction of the Oviedo that came later, linked so much to the religious impulse of the Reconquest, and that over the centuries filled up places with convents and churches. From Romanesque to Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque, in here we have examples of almost everything, sometimes in just one building, like the Cathedral, where styles and way of making things are overlapped.
But as we told you at the beginning, all these stones have had to endure many rough times. Once the Middle Ages passed, Oviedo had to suffer a terrifying fire which destroyed the city in the Christmas Eve of 1521. And in the twentieth century, the Asturias Revolution first, and the Civil War right after, caused severe damage to the town.
But as you can see, the Gothic Tower of San Salvador, the University, the Fontán Market, the Town Hall, the Reconquista Hotel and the Campoamor Theatre, got through it all. They are the great-great-grandchildren of those first buildings that, twelve centuries ago, some kings erected eager to resist in the mountains to a quite dark time.