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León

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The Pulchra Leonina, the Sistine Chapel; of Spanish Romanesque architecture and the old Hospital de San Marcos are the key points of this former Roman encampment. Over the course of time, León became the capital of the kingdom in the Middle Ages, a historic enclave on the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela and a city perfectly suited to its inhabitants. The incredible natural landscape of this province will take take us to the Picos de Europa National Park, the area of Las Médulas (a World Heritage Site) and the winter resort of San Isidro. A cultural and leisure offer which is only surpassed by the quality and variety of León's gastronomy.

What was the Roman Legio VII Gemina Pia Felix preserves an interesting Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance legacy, the result of its splendour during the Middle Ages. The Plaza Mayor forms the centre of this city, crossed by the river Bernesga. Among this baroque collection of buildings stands the City Hall, popularly known as the "Balcony of the City", since from its galleries the nobles observed the town's activities taking place.

World Heritage

The province of León offers us significant slices of the history, art and nature of the region. The river Esla will act as our guide to the villages and historical sites which stand on its banks, such as San Miguel de Escalada, a monastery in the Mozarab style from the 10th century. The northwestern end of León is dominated by the Picos de Europa National Park. Mountain villages such as Caín or Posada de Valdeón appear between the valleys, mountains and forests of beech trees. The Cares gorge and the narrow mountain pass of Los Beyos are some of the most stunning landscapes to be found deep in the Cantabrian mountain range. In the central mountains of León, meanwhile, is the winter resort of San Isidro, a spot perforated by hundreds of caves, among which Valporquero stands out. Stalagmites, stalactites, lakes and waterfalls have formed in its galleries.

Astorga, a city of Roman origin, is the gateway to the region of Maragatería. Among its villages, we will find one, Castrillo de los Polvazares, which is a National Monument. The Pilgrim's Route to Santiago de Compostela crosses León through the region of El Bierzo, to be precise, through Villafranca del Bierzo, Cacabelos or Carracedo, whose monastery of Santa María is also a National Monument. Near here stand the clayey mountains which form Las Medulas, former Roman gold mines which have been declared a World Heritage Site. It only remains for us to travel to Ponferrada and the Valle del Silencio. One of the villages in the valley, Peñalba de Santiago, is a National Historic-Artistic Site. Among its slate and quartzite houses stands the church of Santiago, a Mozarab temple from the 10th century.

What to see in the destination

  • Casa Botines House
  • León Cathedral
  • San Isidoro Royal Collegiate Church in León
  • San Marcos convent
  • Los Guzmanes Palace
  • MUSAC building

Irene recommends

El Húmedo

Dotted around these streets are bars and restaurants where we can sample the best of the region's gastronomy and which have made it worthy of the nickname El Húmedo.

Information

Oficina de Información Turística Local de León.
Avenida Ordoño II, 10.
24001. León. (Castilla y León)
Fax.: +34 987895452
E-mail
Web

Oficina de Información Turística de León.
Edificio Torreón. Plaza de la Regla, 2.
24003. León. (Castilla y León)
Fax.: +34 987273391
E-mail

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