30 Years of Rural Tourism in Asturias
22 February, 2016
Of course, thirty years is nothing, but that’s the time that has passed since 1986, when Asturias set up what was the first rural tourism establishment in Spain. Everything has changed since then, and for the better. The village of Taramundi, where the original La Rectoral was inaugurated, has now become an international paragon. Travellers have come from far and wide to discover it and enjoy the peace and quiet it offers, as well as to meet its people and learn its traditions. Rural tourism, which has subsequently spread across the whole of Asturias, is a leisure style with millions of adepts, some of whom have found in Asturias their coveted paradise.
La Rectoral – 30 Years of Rural Encounters in a Natural Paradise
Three decades ago, when few would have thought that tourism might become one of the region’s major economic engines, the government of the Principality of Asturias bravely decided to spearhead a project intended to transform a small spot in the Principality – Taramundi. Balancing enjoyment of and respect for the environment was the watchword of this initiative which culminated in the opening of the Hotel La Rectoral on 17 June 1986.
A Trend that Spread Like Wildfire Across the Whole of Asturias
After the inauguration of La Rectoral, new projects sprang up all over Asturias – notably in the east, west and centre of the region – in the form of small hotels, village houses and rural apartments. A whole panoply of rural accommodations which breathed new life into villages and hamlets and engendered a new concept of leisure based on authenticity and contact with nature, traditional customs and the ancestral world.
A Superb Backdrop for Rural Tourism
Preservation of the environment, which for 30 years has made us worthy of the epithet, “Asturias, a Natural Paradise”, is the perfect enticement for a sojourn in its rural areas. Asturias boasts over a third of its territory under some form of official protection, whether as a park, reserve or natural monument. Following are some of its standout areas:
In the Picos de Europa, visitors can hike through the gorges that divide this great limestone mass, delve into the activity of livestock grazing – which is still carried out within the park boundaries – or discover karst formations and glacial remains, as in the Covadonga lakes.
Another option is to visit the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias nature reserve, a territory with a marked variety of nuances which acts as a sanctuary for the Cantabrian brown bear and features the largest oak forest in Europe – the Muniellos Forests.
Something similar is in store for the traveller in Somiedo, as here, too, you can follow the tracks of the brown bear and because scattered across the whole territory you will come across pastureland punctuated by the presence of cabanas de teito,stone constructions with thatched roofs once used by vaqueiros or highland cowherds as a refuge in the summer months, the sight of which takes the onlooker back in time.
Beech forests are the prevalent type of vegetation in the Redes woodlands, while the spectacular summits of the Retriñón, Peña del Viento, Canto del Oso and Pico Torres are a treat for those seeking contact with nature.
Much of the reserve known as Oscos-Eo is also forested. However, what sets it apart is its status as one of Spain’s most active craft tradition areas. More than just the cradle of rural tourism, Taramundi is home to one of the most interesting ethnographic complexes on the Peninsula.
The latest addition to this array of idyllic settings is the Las Ubiñas-La Mesa Nature Park. With an area of 451 km2, it is the site of the second largest limestone mountain system in the Cordillera Cantábrica – namely the Peña Ubiña Massif – and it also features various cultural vestiges which range in time from the Bronze Age to a present-day theme park – the Prehistoric Park.
Dreaming in Asturias
Dreaming in Asturias is a cinch, whether you are asleep or awake. With a stellar track record in the business, our accommodations are of the highest standard and beyond guaranteed. We cater to all kinds of visitors in terms of taste, objectives and options. From available feedback, it would seem that lodging in Asturias is always a gratifying experience.
As an example of rural excellence, some 50 rural hotels are managed under the quality seal known as “Casonas Asturianas”, while 56 Casas de Aldea y Apartamentos Rurales (village houses and rural apartments) come under the auspices of the “Asturias Calidad Rural” association.
Both the Casonas Asturianas hotels and the houses and apartments making up the Casas de Aldea y Apartamentos Rurales de Aldeas attest to the excellence shared by thousands of people who on countless occasions are able to recall and adopt as their own the motto that dreaming in Asturias is really easy and within anybody’s reach.
Alone, with your Partner or as a Family
All kinds of experiences can be had in Asturias, each one better than the last. You can savour urban or rural settings and bask in either mountain or seaside idylls, all at your own pace. And, you can do so any way you wish – alone, with your partner or with children and the whole family. The options are endless, determined by your interests and tastes.
And, very importantly, it is very easy to get from the villages to the city and vice versa. Everything is near and well connected.
Clearly, Asturias is a paradise any time of the year. It offers a host of leisure opportunities in terms of nature, culture, gastronomy, etc. All you need to do is come. Check out our flights here.
Text and images by Turismo de Asturias
22 February, 2016