A Brief History of Oviedo
Oviedo was founded when the Monks Máximo and Fromestano established a monastery on its green hill in 761. While the Moors sought unsuccessfully to control this land beyond the mountains, King Alfonso II sought a new royal seat and chose Oviedo in 808. The Pre-Romanesque monuments in and around Oviedo, a style found nowhere else in Europe, are a testament to this king and the 200 or so years that Asturias enjoyed its title as Kingdom, which culminated with the removal of the court to León in 910. King Alfonso II had built a church in honor of Santiago and, together with the relics of Christ still said to be housed in Oviedo, the city became a magnet for pilgrims headed to Galicia on the northern holy route to Santiago de Compostela.
A fire in 1521 did little to spoil the city’s growing foreign trade industry. Ties with Sevilla and wealth from the Americas led to the establishment of its university in 1608. Oviedo became a leading Spanish educational center and developed liberal leanings that continue to characterize it to this day.
By the end of the 19th century the coal mining industry had developed around Oviedo. When a conservative contingent implemented labor reforms for the industry in 1934, the coal miners revolted and the city was heavily damaged.
The city of Oviedo staunchly supported the Republic during the Spanish Civil War and as payback suffered heavily under Franco’s regime. When the leftist PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) emerged as the leader of the country following Franco’s death, it had Oviedo to thank in large part for its electoral victory.
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