Tell Me a Story #3 - Sanctuary of Covadonga, Asturias, Spain

A few persons have expressed interest in this location and the associated photo, so I will give a brief account of the history and the circumstances of the shoot.

This is the waterfall and cave of the Sanctuary of Covadonga, (Santuario de Covadonga), a Catholic site which has an earliest recorded date of use of 722.  The sanctuary also features a Cathedral and a monastery.  


It is said that a hermit hid a statue of the Virgin Mary in the cave.  Pelayo, a man elected to lead the Northern Iberian people, who would become the first King of Asturias, prayed to the statue of the Virgin Mary for protection and victory in their battle against the Moors.  After their victory, he built a shrine to Mary as a sign of gratitude.

This was one of several stops that day, with a few more to come.  Therefore, my hosts granted me a few minutes to look around and take what photos I could.  This is a place that a photographer could spend a day or two at, watching the way the light affects the amazing vistas and relics.

Cathedral at the Sanctuary of Covadonga

The cathedral was my first view of the sanctuary, but any visit there would have to wait until my next trip to Asturias.  

With the cathedral to my right, I barely noticed a waterfall in the corner of my eye, through the driver's window.  I did not appreciate what was before me, until I excited the vehicle and followed my hosts, Geni and her sister, Vanessa.

Entrance and Stairway

Your brain struggles to absorb it all...the roar of the waterfall, the chapel above it, the stairway leading to the cave and chapel, the green and blue hued pool of water, and the path leading to the falls.

"What's that over there?", your eyes scream to your brain.  Why its a fountain, your brain replies. "...and why is that little woman and that man approaching the fountain at the edge of the waterfall?"

  I would soon learn something that single readers of this blog should carefully note.  It its said that if you drink from all the spouts at the fountain, you will be married.  Now if you are vacationing with your significant other in Northern Spain, don't come here unless you are really sure you are with someone you could spend the rest of your life with.  "Why?", you may ask.  Well, imagine being with your significant other, taking in this view, senses overwhelmed by the roar of the waterfall, then you both hear this story.  Almost instantly, eyes will glaze over, your hand will be firmly held, and before you know it, you are either walking or being drug down that path to drink the matrimonial nectar. 

Couple at the fountain.

How can one refuse?  Why there's a chapel right above us, isn't there?  You have been warned.  

Anyway, back to photography...
Not having the luxury of time, I could not set up the tripod, or wait for the gentleman and his thirst quenched little lady betrothed to move out of my field of view.  My mission at that point was to capture the best possible photo, minimizing camera shake, compensating for the overcast conditions, and minimizing the presence of the happy(?) couple, who were now sitting by the fountain, blissfully ruining my view.
I quickly set my exposure bracketing and a 9 frame per second shutter speed to minimize shake, resulting in the photo you see below.

Waterfall and Shrine, Sanctuary of Covadonga, Asturias, Spain

A quick run up to the chapel provided another view of the cathedral.  There was also a medallion attached to a statue of a saint which, if kissed, will give you good luck.  This is very important for visitors, depending on how their trip to the fountain worked out.

Other view of the Cathedral

It was then time to head back down the stairs, as there were more stops ahead.  However, I gave one last glance to the fountain, in the hope that it was now couple free. 

Here's a tip for you:  if you want a photo of any tourist landmark without other tourists being in your shot, you must get there early, as in sunrise, crusty-eyed early.

Another couple on their way to the fountain.  

Foiled again!

While your  friends sleep, get up, get out, take your photo, then head back to the hotel for the breakfast buffet, with no one the wiser.  Given that this was the late afternoon, voila!...another couple appeared, headed for a sip of the marriage juice.  No clean landscape photo for you, my friend!

It simply means that I have one more reason to return to the wonderful land of Asturias.  I can hardly wait!

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment below.  You may also see other photos from my journeys at https://www.facebook.com/GavinBeckfordPhotography.


For more information on the sanctuary, please see the following sites:
http://www.travelinginspain.com/asturias/covadonga.htm
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Covadonga#section_1
http://www.studyspanish.com/comps/covadonga1.htm
http://m.tripomatic.com/Spain/Covadonga-Sanctuary/

Couple relaxing by one of the stairways at the Sanctuary.

View from the Chapel