Pedro José Pidal y Bernardo de Quirós, Marquis of Villaviciosa, could not bear the idea of a foreigner arriving one day and climbing the Naranjo de Bulnes. Because that had to be done by a Spaniard. And it ended up being him, along with the shepherd Gregorio Pérez, that would be the first ones to reach the summit of the Colossus. Do not miss our audio guide about the Naranjo de Bulnes to know more about this rock.
But do not think that this climb of 1904 was just an eccentricity. What the Marquis had for this mountains was pure and true love, and he proved it, by working tirelessly for their conservation. As well as climbing and hunting, Don Pedro also had his seat in the Senate, and he manoeuvred to get, in 1918, the western sector of the Picos de Europa declared the first national park in Spain.
It was named Mountain of Covadonga, and it seems that the one thousand and two hundred anniversary of the rebellion, led by a certain Don Pelayo in this area, influenced in the decision to call it this way. But the important thing is that the declaration as a national park backed by Alfonso XII, who loved to burn gunpowder in the area, was the beginning of a protection that over time would be extended and extended.
Surely today there is less chamois and brown bears than there were in Pelayo’s time, but the meadows, groves, foxes, wolves, eagles and a long list of species are still here, living in an environment that houses the beautiful and well-known lakes of Covadonga.
Enol, Ercina and Bicial are their names, although the latter not always has water. To go up and to look at them is a kind of compensation after so many twisted bends; a pleasure that you may enjoy a little less if you feel like imitating the professional cyclists and ascend this endless hill by bicycle. But hey, everyone has fun as they like and this climb is ideal for both bike and car. You choose …
If you finally choose not to go up those fifteen kilometres, you can stay and visit the impressive and pink Basilica of Santa María la Real and close to it, the sanctuary of Covadonga. In its grotto, wrapped in legends and miracles hoping to inspire Christianity, is the chapel that keeps the image of the Saint and a few other graves. The most known is the one of Pelayo, the monarch that marked the beginning of the Reconquest. Although it seems that, despite the solemn epitaph engraved on the tomb, there are not many arguments to believe that this warrior's bones rest here.