The shock of the new – Niemeyer’s futuristic dream in Old Avilés

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Space age Brasilia comes to Asturias
Brand spanking new, just inaugurated in March 2011, the futuristic Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Centre stands impressively on the banks of the Ría de Avilés just over the way from the Old Town.
Designed and donated to Avilés by the great, centenarian, Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer as “a space open to the whole world, a place for education, culture and peace” the project forms the cornerstone of the town’s rejuvenation project – and what a cornerstone!
Exhibitions, musical events, cinema, theatre and dance fill its calendar, which has already attracted world class artists such as Woody Allen, but one extra special treat is its unique restaurant, housed in “the tower” overlooking the river and the city – only seating fourteen you can try innovative dishes cooked by Spain’s top chefs. Put your name down now – there will be a long waiting list, but all the more reason for visiting Avilés!

Ancient Asturias fights back!
There’s a whole lot more to Aviles than the Niemeyer however – within this medieval town of seafaring and country traditions, lies a beautiful, well preserved historic centre with fine examples of civil and religious architecture – graceful, atmospheric squares, impressive, ancient arcaded streets, dignified buildings, interesting churches and lovely parks. Always a favourite with the Casas team, it has an agreeable provincial air, not a monument kept neat and tidy for tourists, but a lively, active place where people actually live and go about their business at its core.

Soak in the atmosphere
Have a morning coffee at one of the terrazas in the main square, the Plaza de España with its imposing XV11 Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) and noble Palacio Ferrera and you might be forgiven that you have gone back to a Renaissance or Baroque age. The six, delightfully named streets – La Fruta, La Ferrera, Galiana, Calle Cuba.. leading off from here will awaken your senses with architecture and monuments of all ages.
Do not miss Los Caños de San Francisco, a C17th century fountain adorned with six human heads, the C13th century Church of Sabugo, the Baroque Palacio de Camposagrado, the “Indiano” residences of Casa Arias de la Noceda and Casa Eladio Muñiz and the unique, modernist, rectangular square of Los Hermanos Orbón with its typical buildings with glazed galleries where the weekly Monday market is still held.

Out for the evening
And come the evening, join the locals at one of the many “chigres” or “sidrerias” (cider bars) in the ancient, balconied street of Calle Galiana and La Plaza de Carbayedo, the heart of the old sea-going neighbourhood of Sabugo. Finish off the day at one of the many restaurants here serving delicious,traditional food of the region and you will feel at one with the town.

Out for the day
No visit to Asturias would be complete without a visit to the fantastic beaches. Jump in the car or catch a train or bus and you’re down to the coast in no time. Playa de Bayas is 15 minutes away followed closely by the justly famous, cliff backed, Playa de Aguilar. If it’s quaint seaside towns you’re looking for pop along to Cudillero and for a lively evening out with a true Asturian flavour try San Juan de la Arena.

Casas Cantabricas have a wide selection of self catering properties and charming small hotels in the area, including the Hotel Don Pedro right in the Old Town