Leon Tourist Attractions
León, chief town of its province and the see of a bishop, lies at the confluence of the Río Torío and the Río Bernesga in the northwestern part of the central Spanish plateau, the Meseta, under the south side of the Cantabrian Mountains.
It is the chief place in an iron-and coal-mining region and an important trading center for the cattle reared in the surrounding area.HistoryLeón owes its name to the Roman Seventh Legion, having developed out of the Legion's camp in the first century A.D. The town was destroyed at the end of the 10th Century by Almansor's Moorish army but was rebuilt in the reign of Alfonso V (999-1027). Its heyday was in the 10th-12th Centuries, when it was for a time capital of the kingdom of León, which extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rhône. It lost this status, however, when the kingdoms of León and Castile were reunited in 1230, and thereafter it declined. During the Middle Ages León was an important staging-point on the Way of St James for pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela.
To the south of the Diocesan Museum lies the arcaded Plaza Mayor, on the west side of which is the handsome twin-towered Old Town Hall (Consistorio Viejo) of 1677. The square has an appealing charm, particularly on market days, when it is a bustle of activity. Equally lively are the little streets of the old town leading to the Plaza de San Martín (with the 13th century church of San Martín) and the Plazuela de San Marcelo. An evening stroll around the old town can be pleasantly combined with a visit to some of the tapa bars with their variety of enticing appetisers.
A splendid example of Gothic architecture, the Cathedral in Leon dates back to the 13th century.
Plazuela de San Marcelo
In the Plazuela de San Marcelo, the hub of the León's traffic, are a number of important buildings.
The Plazuela de San Marcelo takes its name from the church of San Marcelo (1588-1627), with a reliquary containing the saint's remains.
Opposite San Marcelo is the Renaissance Ayuntamiento.
Casa de Botines
Palacio de los Guzmanes
Colegiata de San Isidoro was built between the 10th and 12th C and contains the remains of San Isidoro. The most impressive feature is the Royal Pantheon at the west end of the church.
Monasterio de San Marcos
On the northwest side of León, on the banks of the Río Bernesga, is the former monastery of San Marcos, now a luxurious parador. The main (south) front, over 100m/330ft long, is unsurpassed in the richness and delicacy of its Plateresque decoration. The eastern half was built between 1533 and 1541, the western half, with the doorway and the tower, between 1708 and 1716. Over the main entrance is a Baroque figure of Santiago (St James) in his legendary role as the Moor-Slayer (Matamoros).The site was occupied from the 12th century onwards by the mother house of the knightly Order of Santiago, which protected pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela. In gratitude for their exploits the Catholic Monarchs ordered the building of a new monastery for the order.
Iglesia de San Marcos
At the east end of the Monasterio de San Marcos is the church of San Marcos (consecrated in 1541), which has beautiful choir-stalls of 1543 and sculpture by Juan de Juni and Juan de Horozco.
Provincial Archeological Museum
The sacristy (by Juan de Badajoz, 1549), the cloister and the adjoining chapter rooms are now occupied by the Provincial Archeological Museum, which has a rich collection of material. Its greatest treasure is an 11th century ivory figure of Christ; other exhibits include an altar dedicated to Diana, Roman and Celtic antiquities, sculpture, carved ivories and pictures.
La Ronda and the Procession of the Stages of the Passion
Cuevas de Valporquero, Valporquero
Location: Province of León; at Valporquero, 35km/22mi north of León. Features: Large gallery 1.8km/1mi long, with many branches and chambers. Numerous sinter formations in different colors; waterfalls, pools and lakes.
Map of Leon Attractions