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Basilica de Covadonga, Spain

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 2:30pm by Lolo
240 miles and 4.5 hours from our last stop


Basilica de CovadongaBasilica de CovadongaFrom the moment I saw a photo of the Basilica de Covadonga during my trip planning research, I knew I had to get there. Its beauty was haunting, especially during the atmospherics of a coming storm.

As we drove the 5 hours from Salamanca to our intended campground in Asturias, right outside the Picos de Europa National Park, I began strategizing how I could convince Herb that it was he that wanted to take the ½ hour side trip up a windy mountain to see the Basilica. The fact that it had started to drizzle didn’t make it any easier - or maybe in a way it did, because the photo that first got me going on this place was taken during just these conditions. That, plus my charm got him to make the turn.

There was a little bit of grumbling about where we would park when we got there, but no problem. We pulled right up and parked in front of it, as if we owned the place.

Santa Cueva, a hillside cave where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared in 722 ADSanta Cueva, a hillside cave where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared in 722 ADIt was even better in real life - a stunning pink granite, 19th century, neo-Romanesque basilica, set against the dramatic soaring mountains of the Picos de Europa - with a bit of mist and clouds to add to the atmospherics.

Unsure as to whether it was open, we tried the doors, and sure enough it was. We entered and found that we had it all to ourselves - so serene compared to the crowded cathedrals and monasteries we had been to so far along this trip.

After leaving the church, we walked down to the Santa Cueva, a hillside cave where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared before a battle between the Christians and the Muslims in 722 AD. Her appearance spurred the Christian army on to victory and marked the beginning of the 800-year Reconquista. Today there is a beautiful chapel set inside the cave, which has now become a pilgrimage site.

This was definitely a very worthwhile stop.


View of the Basilica from Santa CuevaView of the Basilica from Santa CuevaThe Basilica de Covadonga, located 5 km up a steep, winding road in the remote northern Picos mountains, is an incredibly grandiose 19th-century, neo-Romanesque, pink granite basilica. Its beauty is even further enhanced by its dramatic setting, tucked between soaring mountains. It is a breathtaking sight.

The significance of this location is that it was the site of the Muslims first defeat in Spain by the Christians, marking the beginning of the 800-year Reconquista. According to legend, before the battle, in 722 AD, the Virgin Mary appeared in a hillside cave, just a short walk from where the basilica is today. A chapel has been installed in the cave, known as the Santa Cueva.

Today it is still a pilgrimage site.

Basilica de Covadonga location map in "high definition"

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