The coastal city of Gijón lies in the north of Spain, in the region of Asturias. It has a large port, as well as several good beaches and a lively town centre. Although it’s the biggest city in Asturias, it’s not huge, so it doesn’t have loads of museums, but it does have a handful of good art museums, history museums and archeological sites. Here’s our pick of the top 10 museums in Gijón.
The Museo Barjola is housed in a historic building called the Conjunto de la Trinidad, which comprises the Palacio de Jove-Huergo and its chapel. It was completed in 1676 and is located in the old part of the city. The museum houses the most important collection of works by the subjective expressionist artist Juan Barjola. As well as this permanent collection, it showcases several temporary exhibitions, which include painting, photography and graphic work.
The Railway Museum of Asturias is responsible for conserving Asturias’ historical railway heritage. Visitors will find exhibits on the industrial revolution, the technological development of trains and railways and the social impact they had on the region. It’s housed inside an old railway station and displays lots of old steam engines that kids of all ages will enjoy.
East of the city centre and the Plaza Mayor sits the museum of Asturian culture. It’s one of the best places in the city to find out about the region and its culture. From the outside it’s an avant-garde and contemporary structure, while inside, there are old stone roundhouses and historical displays. Some of the objects here include elegant carriages, prints, lithographs, old photographs and documents, showing what life used to be like in the city.
This museum is the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment politician, philosopher and author Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744–1811). It is located on a grand square in an elegant 18th-century building. On the main floor, exhibits display objects from the politician’s life, as well as pieces of his furniture. On the upper level, visitors can see artwork from the late 19th and 20th centuries by a number of Asturian artists, including painter Evaristo Valle, who was born in Gijón.
To the west of San Lorenzo Beach and close to the Santa Catalina Hill sit the ancient Roman Baths, built around 100 AD. Inside, visitors can walk across walkways over the ruins below and learn all about the different functions of the rooms. Look out for the cold zones, warm bath areas and the hot spaces used as saunas.
The Evaristo Valle Foundation Museum, or Museo Evaristo Valle, is a cultural foundation dedicated to the Spanish painter Evaristo Valle. It was set up by his niece, María Rodríguez del Valle, and is housed a beautiful, pink 19th-century palace. As well as the artist’s work, the museum features some of his personal possessions and documents and a reconstruction of his studio. The museum also has a lovely garden in English and French styles, with more than 120 different types of plants and trees. Dotted around the garden, visitors will find various sculptures by different contemporary artists.
Bagpipes are not only native to Scotland and Ireland; they are in fact played all over Galicia, and in Asturias, too. A visit to the Bagpipe Museum, known as the Muséu Internacional de la Gaita, makes for a fun and interesting attraction in Gijón. Today, it is joined to the Museum of the Asturian People (Muséu del Pueblu d’Asturies). Inside, visitors will find a large collection of bagpipes from all over Spain, as well as other countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. You’ll also learn all about traditional Asturian music.
The Museum of Nicanor Piñole is part of the Saatchi Gallery and is a monographic museum dedicated to the painter Nicanor Piñole (1878–1978), who was from Gijón. It also makes special reference to Asturian and other Spanish art. The collection is made up of more than 6,000 works and follows the various stages of the artist’s career, from his formative years to his time during the Spanish Civil War.
The Villa Romana de Veranes is the archeological remains of an ancient Roman villa, around 12 kilometres (seven miles) from Gijón. Its ancient name was Torrexón de San Pedro. Visitors can look around the archaeological site and see the various rooms, their functions and layout. There is also an observation point, so you can get a good view over the whole area, and video guides are available from reception.
The Gijón Aquarium is not exactly a museum, but it is one of the top places to visit in the city, especially for families. This huge aquarium houses over 5,000 marine creatures, covering 400 different species. Watch otters splashing around, Magellanic penguins sliding down the rocks and sharks swimming in the tanks. This aquarium is the only one in Spain where you can see all five groups of animals: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish. It also has a section on Cantabrian rivers and tropical oceans.
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