Gijón (/hɪˈhɒn/, /hiˈhɔːn/ or /xiˈxɔːn/, Spanish: [xiˈxon]) or Xixón (Asturian: [ʃiˈʃoŋ]) is the largest city and municipality in the autonomous community of Asturias in Spain. It is located on the Bay of Biscay, approximately 20 km (12 mi) north of Oviedo, the capital of Asturias.
The first evidence of human presence in what is known nowadays as the municipality of Gijón is located in Monte Deva, where exists a series of tumulus, and in Monte Areo, where there are some neolithic dolmens. These dolmens were discovered in 1990 and were supposedly built around 5000 BC.
The first noticed settlement (Noega) is located in Campa Torres. It has its origin between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. It was populated by Astures (Cilúrnigos) and later Romanized. Noega was progressively abandoned when the Roman wall in the peninsula of Cimavilla, called the Gegionem, was built.
Asturias (/æˈstʊəriəs, ə-/; Spanish: [asˈtuɾjas]; Asturian: Asturies [asˈtuɾjes]; Galician: Asturias), officially the Principality of Asturias (Spanish: Principado de Asturias; Asturian: Principáu d'Asturies), is an autonomous community in north-west Spain. It is coextensive with the province of Asturias, and contains some of the territory that was part of the larger Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages. Divided into eight comarcas (counties), the autonomous community of Asturias is bordered by Cantabria to the east, by Castile and León to the south, by Galicia to the west, and by the Bay of Biscay to the north.
The most important cities are the communal capital, Oviedo (Uviéu or Uvieo), the seaport and largest city Gijón (Xixón), and the industrial town of Avilés. Other municipalities in Asturias include Cangas de Onís (Cangues d'Onís), Cangas del Narcea, Gozón, Grado (Grau or Grao), Langreo (Llangréu), Llanera, Laviana (Llaviana), Lena (Ḷḷena), Llanes, Mieres, Siero, Valdés, Vegadeo (A Veiga) and Villaviciosa (see also List of municipalities and comarcas in Asturias).
In the 18th century, Asturias was one of the centres of the Spanish Enlightenment. The renowned Galician thinker Benito de Feijóo settled in the Benedictine Monastery of San Vicente de Oviedo. Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, a polymath and prominent reformer and politician of the late 18th century, was born in the seaside town of Gijón.
During the Napoleonic Wars, Asturias was the first Spanish province to rise up against the French following the abdication of King Ferdinand VII on 10 May 1808. Riots began in Oviedo and on 25 May the local government formally declared war on Napoleon with 18,000 men called to arms to resist invasion.
The Industrial Revolution came to Asturias after 1830 with the discovery and systematic exploitation of coal mines and iron factories at the mining basins of Nalón and Caudal. At the same time, there was significant migration to the Americas (especially Argentina, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico); those who succeeded overseas often returned to their native land much wealthier. These entrepreneurs were known collectively as 'Indianos', for having visited and made their fortunes in the West Indies and beyond. The heritage of these wealthy families can still be seen in Asturias today: many large 'modernista' villas are dotted across the region, as well as cultural institutions such as free schools and public libraries.
The organisation and political structure of Asturias is governed by the Statute of Autonomy of Asturias, in force since 30 January 1982. According to the Statute, the institutional bodies of the Principality of Asturias are three: Government of the Principality of Asturias, the Council of the Principality of Asturias and President of the Principality of Asturias. The form of government of the Principality is Parliament: The General Junta is the legislature to choose, on behalf of the Asturian town, the President of the Principality of Asturias. The President is the Governing Council, the head of Executive power, and politically answerable to the General Junta.
The functions of the General Junta are the approval of budgets, and the direction and control of the action of the Governing Council. It is composed of 45 deputies, elected for four years through theuniversal suffrage within a system proportional representation that the allocation of deputies is based on D'Hondt method.
Avilés is the third largest city in Asturias, where "La villa del adelantado" (as locals call it, in reference of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés) is a meeting point. "Saint Nicholas of Bari" or "Capilla de los Alas" in Romanesque and Romanesque-Gothic style, respectively; Palacio de Balsera, in Modernist style or St. Thomas of Canterbury church (dating from the 13th century) are examples which show the historical patrimony to be found in the city. The Centro Niemeyer, designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, is an example of contemporary architecture in Asturias.
The Picos de Europa National Park, and other parts of the Asturian mountain range: The Picu Urriellu mountain (2519 m or 8262 ft), also known as El Naranjo de Bulnes, is a molar-shaped peak which, reputedly, glows orange in the evening sun, hence its name. Weather permitting, it can be viewed from Camarmeña village, near Poncebos, south of Arenas de Cabrales.
The shrine to the Virgin of Covadonga and the mountain lakes (Los Lagos), near Cangas de Onís: Legend has it that in the 8th century, the Virgin blessed Asturian Christian forces with a well-timed signal to attack Spain's Moorish conquerors, thereby taking the invaders by surprise in the Battle of Covadonga. The Reconquista and eventual unification of all Spain is therefore said to have started in this very location.
The paleolithic art in the caves of Asturias is declared World Heritage Site with the Paleolithic Art of Northern Spain.
Asturias also has examples of industrial heritage as a consequence of its industrial activities in the 19th and 20th centuries. It had metallurgical and chemical factories, mines, bridges and railways, including in the towns of Langreo, Mieres and Avilés.
The Asturian coast: especially the beaches in and around the summer resort of Llanes, the Playa del Silencio near Cudillero fishing village, or the "white" village of Luarca (Severo Ochoa hometown).