When I heard this word for the first time, I let it roll from my tongue. Just beautiful.
But who or what is it - Covadonga?
It is not shameful not to know, unless you are a Spanish schoolchild.
The answer is important for the history of the country. Near the cave of Covadonga in the mountains of Asturias, a Christian force attacked the Arab invaders around 720, about ten years after the devastating defeat of the Visigoths' army. The commander, Pelagius / Pelayo, member of the ancient Visigothic nobility, became king of Asturias, the first Christian empire after the Moorish invasion, and a Spanish national hero.
Historians struggle with the exaggerated descriptions from both Muslim and Christian perspectives. It was probably a fight, not a battle. The facts nevertheless are that it took place, near Covadonga, and that the occupiers were defeated.
The event had a high symbolic significance, even beyond all its military and political consequences. It marked the beginning of the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula. Whether Pelagius himself had thought this far into the future? It took almost 800 years, until 1492, before Boabdil, the last Sultan of Granada, handed over the city and state to the Spanish kings, without a fight.
Translation: Erik Eising (MA)