Our visit to the historic city of León, Spain
León in northern Spain is a perfect city break for an instantaneous embrace of Spanish culture, food and beautiful architecture.
I felt like we had discovered a true gem when we visited Leon.
You're in León
We’ve come to fall in love with Spain over the last few years, during our road trips from north to south. The northern region of Spain where Leon is located is beautiful.
With our passion for history, we couldn’t wait to unearth the ancient city of Leon in north-western Spain.
León Market Day
The view of the market from our hotel room
Fresh on the market
León’s Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor in León as you can imagine plays a central role within the historic city, especially on market days. However, when the stalls are all cleared away and the traders have all packed up it became very sedate.
The view from our room over Plaza Mayor
León’s central square is delightful, it’s framed on one side by the attractive Baroque old city hall. Around the other three sides are charming colonnades, with wrought iron balconies teetering above. Cafés and bars are nestled in between and such pleasant location to enjoy a coffee and watch the world slowly pass by.
The corner of Plaza Mayor
A helpful guide
I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used this version of the book to plan the northern part of our Spanish road trips.
León’s Striking Architecture
As you stroll around León, you’ll notice the varied styles of architecture throughout the city.
One in particular that stands out is striking ‘castle-like’ Casa de los Botines, designed by Antoni Gaudi and one of only a few of his designs built outside Catalonia.
The Casa de los Botines
A monument to Antoni Gaudi on a bench
Getting to León
Start creating your own León adventure and discover the ancient history amongst the charming city streets.
Search for your flights in one easy place with ebookers.com. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.
Why not make your visit into road trip by flying directly into Madrid. León is around 211 miles (339km) drive away. Take a look at the latest deals on Rental Cars.
Convent de San Marcos
Along the banks of the Bernesga river is the Spanish Renaissance Convent of San Marcos. This is a beautiful building that overlooks the Plaza de San Marcos.
Now the convent is home to a hotel and under restoration, so, unfortunately, we were unable to see its intricate plateresque façade.
However, the stroll to the plaza was worth it just to see the pilgrim statue in front of the convent. A lone pilgrim with his sandals by his side staring up.
Resting against the cross
Visited Spain and discovered any towns or cities that you really want to share with us, as we’d love to add them to our next road trip?
The Gothic Cathedral that stands in León was built during the 13th century, although this is extremely old, this was the 3rd cathedral to be built on this site.
The original León cathedral was constructed on the site of ancient Roman Baths during the 2nd century. It’s incredible the size of such a cathedral considering what the population of the city would have been at the time.
Detail inside the Cathedral
Stained glass window inside the Cathedral
The cathedral is also known as Pulchra Leonina or The House of Light due to the astonishing amount of stained glass windows throughout there are 1,800 square metres.
The Interior of the Cathedral
Did you know?
Leon cathedral is one of the three most important cathedrals, along The Way of Saint James (El Camino de Santiago), along with that of Burgos and Santiago de Compostela.
Not content with an impressive cathedral, León also has a lovely ochre Romanesque Basilica, named Basílica de San Isidoro de León. The basilica was built in 10th century on the grounds of a Roman Temple.
Basilica of San Isidoro
The ancient walls that surround part of the city were built in the 1st Century BC & then further enlarged during 3rd & 4th century AD.
The Arco de la Cárcel
The City Walls
There is only one remaining gate to the city is ‘Arco de la Cárcel’, although it has since been rebuilt it still retains of its Medieval structure.
During our road trip, we had seen storks nesting in some unusual places, but this one was undoubtedly comfortable where it had made its home.
The stork with the classy home with a view
As we wander around the city, we come across so many pilgrims young and old on the route to Santiago de Compostela. León is along the ‘French Way’ of the Camino de Santiago, a very well-trodden path.
The brass marker
Follow the way
Where we ate in León
One of our lasting memories of León is standing in the tapas bars enjoying the local chatter around us, sipping Spanish red wine and savouring the complimentary tapas. (In some places, we paid €2.80 for 2 wines & tapas)
We love the Spanish culture of try a little and move on.
Gary enjoys the local morcilla (blood sausage) not to everyone’s taste, but ‘when in Rome’.
Where we stayed in León
Our accommodation for the two nights we were in León, was at the Hotel NH Collection León Plaza Mayor. This hotel was in a fantastic location, as you stepped out of the door you were straight into Plaza Mayor, within the heart of the old town.
The hotel also had allocated parking in the car park underground.
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Inspired to visit León?
Pack your bag and start planning, there is so much to see in this ancient city.
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