Travels

Aviles, lights and shadows

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Franciscan Fathers Church


Auditorium and Tower, Niemeyer Center in Avilés

Not only the Light by Carlos Saura, a traveling exhibition of the film director, plays with the lights and shadows. Aviles, which welcomes the exhibition these days, is also a city that has in its millenary history moments of brightness and moments in which the flame of its spirit goes out.

Shadows have been when the Industrial Reconversion of the 80s meant a downsizing in what was ENSIDESA, the gigantic National Steel Company (renamed several times since then and today part of Arcelor Mittal) that since the 50s had been the main employment provider in the area, attracting workers from Zamora, León and other parts of the Spanish geography.

Shadow was also the declaration of Aviles as Polluted Atmosphere Zone in 1981, a price that the avilesinos were paying for their health for decades in exchange for keeping heavy industries installed there, at a time when environmental regulations were more lax and at first sight you could see a gray cloud floating permanently on the city.

Sabugo Church

Monumental treasures shine today. Its curious streets supported, hundreds of meters that protect from the rain and facilitate transit in Galiana, San Francisco or the Ironworks. In the old fishing district of Sabugo, an old church of the thirteenth century contemplates today's avilesinos while sharing cider and laughter. The remodeled Plaza del Carbayedo has been rejuvenated in its antiquity with more than half a dozen restaurants and vinaterias where the broths of Rioja or the Ribera del Duero are tasted outdoors between talk and talk.

Its cuisine shines today, from the most traditional appreciated in its many cider houses and restaurants to the most daring, in the kitchens of gastropub Llamber in the armored street of Galiana or the reputed stoves of Koldo Mirandawho proudly treasures a Michelin Star in his restaurant in the Cruz de Illas.

The whitish glow of today shines the dome of the Niemeyer and with it the old Ría degraded is illuminated, at whose innermost end the almost half a dozen architectural structures that make it up are located. The smooth curvature of its forms, Brazilian architect's hallmark who dreamed it and reflected on the paper, breaks the edges of what was once gray and functional.

That the visitor who arrives on the highway is not deceived, the chimneys and industrial buildings that line the horizon to his right are not a prelude to what awaits him today in Aviles but a memory of his past. Old shadows in time of new lights.

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