I get a little nostalgic when I think of Cangas de Onís in northern Spain, partly because of its ‘puente’ or ‘Roman’ bridge, which arches impressively over the River Sella. I’m often drawn towards old bridges, as they’re typically pretty, offer views and provide a link to the past. Cangas de Onís was also nearly my home before I declined a job offer in favour of nearby Gijón.
The centre of town is where nobleman Don Pelayo established court after leading the victorious Christian ‘reconquest’ of Spain over the Moors in around 722. The coup is immortalised at the battleground in nearby Covadonga and on a victory cross replica which hangs from the puente. Cangas de Onís is also home to some tasty food, lively markets and its Goldilocks size (it could be a bit small for some) makes it a worthy stop for at least a couple of days.
Things to do in Cangas de Onís
Much like the Spanish town of Ronda, the bridge in Cangas de Onís is the focal point. I stood staring slack-jawed at this mashup of past and present, which frames the bucolic countryside. From its centre, the victory cross hovers in front of distant mountains, a patchwork of autumn hues (at least when I was there) and watery shadows that mimic the scenery.
Although it’s known as the ‘Roman’ bridge, the ‘puente’ (as locals call it) wasn’t constructed until the 14th-century, when Alfonso XI of Castile ordered it to be built over a Roman bridge. For more details on the puente, check out my post here. Below the bridge lies the popular Spanish restaurant Meson Puente Romano, where I enjoyed some riverside tapas and a caña of beer before heading further into town. Definitely spend at least an hour whiling away your time here.
A highlight of Cangas de Onís is the Sunday market, which sells quality food, clothes and a variety of local wares. I picked up a stylish woollen cap – which I still wear during Brisbane’s wintertime – clothes, handmade toys for Olin and some local delicacies. It’s a great place to people watch, grab a coffee, a pastry and just generally acquaint yourself with this compelling part of Spain.
Further in town, Cangas reminds me of nearby Llanes, with its capricious weather, mountains, quaint buildings and the way it caters to tourists without spoiling itself. I based myself here for a few days, although you could take longer given there’s plenty to do in the area. Here’s a few more must-dos.
- Sample local delicacies such as beans and cheese (try the Asturian ‘cabrales’).
- Go hiking in the Picos de Europa.
- Visit nearby Covadonga.
- Visit lakes Enol and Ercina.
Have you visited Cangas de Onís? What did you think of it?