Oviedo is the cultural and commercial capital of the Asturias region of Spain. It is also a university town, which means it can be pretty lively on the weekend. Oviedo is in one of the few parts of Spain that were not conquered by the Moors. It is the site of the Camara Santa (Holy Chamber), the city’s most sacred object. This is the vault built by King Alfonso the Chaste in the ninth century during the long conflict with the Moors, to protect the treasures of Christian Spain. The beautiful Gothic cathedral Santa Maria del Naranco was built around it in the 14th to 16th centuries. Among the many priceless objects in the church are statues and crosses of gold, silver and precious stones. Across from the cathedral is the 15th century Palacio de la Rua.
Oviedo was considerably damaged during the Spanish Civil War, but much of that has been restored. The city still has fine examples of pre-Romanesque architecture, such as the Iglesia de San Tirso. The Museo Arqueologico, housed in the Monasterio de San Vicente, exhibits prehistoric artifacts, ancient Roman mosaics and pre-Romanesque works of art. The Museo de Bellas Artes, located in the beautiful 18th century Velarde Palace has a collection of beautiful Spanish and Asturian paintings.
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