Most of the inhabitants of the district live on the coastal plain, on which the largest town is Llanes itself, with a population of about 4,000 out of the total for the district of about 13,000. The folklore, food, and fiestas of the region are famous for their colour and history.
Llanes is a traditional fishing port, with an active harbour and many notable monuments and traditions; one plaque commemorates the 65 sailors from Llanes who sailed on the three ships it fitted out for the Spanish Armada in 1588 (the Santa Ana, the San Nicolas, and the Santelmo). Parts of the surviving town walls date to 1206. Another plaque commemorates the visit of Emperor Charles V on September 26, 1517, who, when on his way to Valladolid to be crowned King of Castile, stayed for two nights before resuming his journey.
Today, Llanes is still an active fishing port, with its economy boosted by tourism (mostly by visitors from the rest of Spain) in the summer. The town has a good selection of traditional shops and restaurants, both in and around the town, and the zona de copas is lively at night in summer. Three beaches and a spectacular cliff-top walk, the Paseo de San Pedro, add to the coastal atmosphere.
The landmark old Theatre (the Teatro Benevente), built as part of the main bridge over the river, was pulled down in the 1990s, but an exploration of the back streets of the town is always worthwhile, specially the romanic-gothic Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Near Llanes is the village of Porrúa, noted for its Ethnographical Museum.Tower of Llanes
Llanes is divided into 28 parishes:
From all of the district of Llanes the view to the south is dominated by the limestone mountain wall, which rises steeply to 744 m at L'Abá.
Many visitors, however, do not realize that the ridge forming the wall shields the view of the higher Sierra del Cuera above of which the highest point (in Llanes) is La Peña Blanca, 1177 m. Between the two ridges there are hidden valleys, draining into cave systems. The largest of these valleys is La Llosa de Viango. Unlike the heights of the Picos de Europa further to the south, these valleys are green and pastoral. All this mountains are in turn part of the Cordillera Cantábrica, which runs across most of the north and northwest of Spain.
From September 6, 1937 to September 22, 1937, 5,000 men of the Republican forces held off over 33,000 Nationalists, in this area, in an epic resistance which became known as the Battle of El Mazuco. Today, only the melodious sound of cowbells disturbs the peace of the valleys.
The district contains numerous caves, including a site of archaeological interest at Nueva, and the Cueva Bolado (43°24′04″N 4°45′51″W) near La Pereda which also contains ancient art as well as open passages.
There are also several significant 'wild' cave systems, includingthe Bolugo-Caldueñín system under El Mazuco (the Río Belugas, which sinks at (43°22′45″N 4°51′03″W) and resurges at 43°22′48″N 4°51′54″W)
the Rales system (43°24′43″N 4°53′39″W)
El Cuevón de Pruneda, near Purón (43°22′39″N 4°43′23″W).
These systems were first systematically explored by speleologists from the Oxford University Cave Club and from Speleogroup.
In addition, it is suspected that there is a significant cave system underlying La Llosa de Viango.
In Llanes itself, the patron saint of the town, Nuestra Señora del Conceyu, is celebrated with a Fiesta on 15 August. In addition, there are three big summer Fiestas in the town: 22 July La Magdalena, 16 August San Roque, and 8 September La Guía. These Fiestas are independently organized by three groups, known as "Bandos", with followers in the Llanes population; these have a long and well-known rivalry, and each tries every year to outdo the others and stage the best festivities.
Outside the town, the various parishes and localities in the district celebrate the usual diversity of Fiestas in honour of their patron saints, with emphasis on La Hoguera ("The bonfire"), which consists of the felling of a mountain eucalyptus which is then erected in the village after removing the branches and bark. This is celebrated in several villages, including Celorio, Balmori, and Pancar (where they carry out the entire ritual without the help of their neighbours).
Also famous is the Noche de las Brujas of Barro (a very traditional and popular celebration centred on Asturian mythology), as is the celebration of Santa Ana, the patron saint of Naves, thanks to the free concert given by popular musicians.