Monte Naranco (Mount Naranco) is home to two World Heritage sites and a 35 meter tall statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We were lucky to be driven to the top of Monte Naranco, where, after a short walk, we were greeted by a giant statue of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. His arms open towards the city, with the appearance of embracing and protecting the city of Oviedo. Underneath the statue is a version of the famous Cruz de la Victoria, which features on the flag of Asturias.
Driving or climbing up the mountain will be worth the effort for the incredible view over Oviedo and its valley. There’s no better place to get a sense for the layout, size and topography of the region. Either way, the panorama is unforgettable. After taking the photos, we headed part way down and had a delicious lunch at Restaurante Parrilla Buenos Aires.
Lunch was so filling that we needed to walk a bit so we drove towards Iglesia San Miguel de Lillo, the 2nd of the World Heritage sites. Apparently, only one third of this church is original, due to a collapse in the structure sometime during the 12th or 13th century. To see these churches up close was amazing…knowing they have stood there for over twelve centuries! As a side note, Iglesia San Miguel de Lillo was part of the larger complex of Santa Maria del Naranco.
We then continued to walk down the hill to Santa María del Naranco, which was originally built as a two-storied palace for King Ramiro I in 848 C.E. According to the World Heritage Site webpage, the palace was converted into a parish church, sometime between 905 and 1065.
The lower story of Santa María del Narancoi s entirely contained within itself and is a crypt-like structure, similar to the original 9th century church in Oviedo, La Santa Iglesia Basílica Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador de Oviedo, called the Crypt of Santa Leocadia.
The upper story, is a single room with balconies on both sides, that you can clearly see from the outside. Walking around the back of Santa María del Naranco, the large open balcony appeared to contain an altar which I was able to verify. It bears an inscription in Latin, its date of consecration, 23 June 848.
From this vantage point, the view of the city is incredible.