León is the capital of the province of the same name within the landlocked autonomous community of Castilla y León which lies in northwest Spain. The city of Leon has a population of around 140,000, lies on the banks of the river Bernesga and is part of the Camino de Santiago being the last major city before the trail climbs west into the mountains and into Galicia.
León was founded in the 1st century BC by the Romans and following various battles between Moors and Christians went on to become The Kingdom of León in 910 with an Empire stretching to the river Rhone. Modern day León saw dramatic population during the late 20 th Century and in 1983 the regions of León and Castile were brought together to form the Autonomous Community of Castile and León.
From the outskirts the city of León doesn’t hold much allure but break through the outer apartment block skin and you’ll find a centre full of historical charm.
León Cathedral or, to give its full name, Santa María de León Cathedral, is a French-style Gothic cathedral built in the 13th Century over the ruins of the city’s ancient Roman baths but wasn’t completed until the late 16th century.
Also known as The House of Light or the Pulchra Leonina León Cathedral has almost 1,800 square meters of stained glass windows dating from the 13th to the 15th century and are said to be among the world’s finest stained glass.
The main façade is flanked by two towers and has three carved Gothic portals and a large rose window. Inside, the Main Chapel has an altarpiece dating from the 15th century and a silver urn containing the relics of San Froilán (León’s patron saint) and the 13th–15th century cloister.
The Cathedral also has its own Museum (Museo Catedralicio Diocesano de León) housing almost 1,500 works of art dating from pre-history to the 18th century.
The NH Plaza Mayor is a 5 star luxury boutique hotel with 51 rooms situated in a 19th-century building on Plaza Mayor in the historic heart of León.
León Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC)
The Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León), better known as the MUSAC, opened to rave reviews in 2005 by Prince Felipe, and features contemporary art collections from the past 20 years. The building itself (designed by Luis M. Mansilla and Emilio Tuñón) has been awarded a number of prizes for architecture including the 2007 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture (Mies van der Rohe award).
Basilica of San Isidoro
The Basilica of San Isidoro located on the site of an ancient Roman temple and its origins can be traced back to the early 10th century when a monastery for Benedictine sisters was established. The basilica has a museum and library open to the public.
Casa de los Botines
Casa de los Botines was built between 1892 and 1893 and designed by Antoni Gaudí to reflect Leon’s medieval and Gothic styles. Today La Casa de los Botines is the headquarters of the Spanish bank Caja España.
León Airport is located around 6 kilometres from the city centre and offers mainly domestic flights alongside a limited number of European routes.
León Railway Station
León has two railway stations, one on the RENFE line serving national and international destinations and one on the FEVE line serving local destinations.
León Bus Station
The bus station is right in the city centre on Avenida del Ingeniero Sáenz de Miera and offers services throughout Spain and some European destinations.