According to Handbagpicks.com, Leon is located in northern Spain at the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains. It is the center of the province of León. This is the largest and one of the most interesting provinces of the autonomous region of Castile-Leon in terms of tourism.
The first mention of a settlement in these places dates back to 70 AD, when a Roman camp was located here, which controlled the work of the Las Medulas gold mines, located to the west. The settlement was named Legio, hence the name “Leon”. In the 9th century, the city of León was conquered from the Moors and annexed to the kingdom of Asturias, which became part of the vast kingdom of León in the 10th century. It was in the 10th century under King Ordoño II that the city of Leónbecame the capital of this kingdom. In the 13th century the capital was moved to Valladolid. An important role in the development of the city was played by the fact that it was one of the largest centers on the Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago), which leads to the tomb of the Apostle James, located in the far north of Spain in the city of Santiago de Campostela. That is why the grandiose cathedral and churches were built in Leon. It is worth noting that to this day the Way of St. James is one of the main Christian pilgrimage routes, and the churches and cathedrals located along its entire length, including those of Leon, are the pearls of religious architecture.
The main attraction of Leon is the Cathedral, which is called the “House of Light”. It was built between the 13th and 16th centuries and is now considered the most beautiful Gothic cathedral in Spain. The facade of the cathedral is decorated with three carved entrance arches, a rose-shaped window, which has a diameter of 8 m, and two towers. Passing through the main entrance, you will find yourself in a gallery with hundreds of stained glass windows made of glass of various colors. Stained glass windows are a distinctive feature of the Cathedral of León and create its unique appearance, especially during daylight hours, when the gallery is filled with colorful light beams. It is because of the many windows that the cathedral was nicknamed the “House of Light”. Inside the cathedral, the altar is interesting, in which there is a silver urn, where the relics of St. Freulian, the patron saint of the city, are kept, chapels with tombs of famous personalities, including the tomb of King Ordoño II, and a cloister with frescoes of the 15th century. At the cathedral, the Diocesan Museum is open, where old paintings and Romanesque sculptures of the Virgin Mary are exhibited. Near the cathedral you can see the remains of the Roman walls of the Crypt de Puerta Obispo.
Not far from the Cathedral is the Romanesque church of San Isidoro.. The basilica was built in the 11th century under King Ferdinand I and completely rebuilt in the 12th century. Of greatest interest is the Pantheon Real – the tomb, where the relics of St. Isidore and the remains of 11 rulers of the kingdom of León and their families are buried. The vault of the Pantheon, decorated with frescoes of the 12th-13th centuries, rests on powerful columns, between which there are sarcophagi. Because of the abundance of frescoes, the Pantheon is often called the Spanish Sistine Chapel. There is also a museum in the church, which presents objects of religious art of the 11th-12th centuries and unique manuscripts.
In 1173, the monastery of San Marcos was founded in León on the banks of the Bernesga River., which has become one of the key points on the pilgrimage Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago). To protect the pilgrims from the attacks of the Moors, the military orders of St. James were placed here. The original buildings of the monastery have not been preserved, as the monastery was completely rebuilt in the 16th century in the Renaissance style. Now it houses a five-star hotel, a church and the Archaeological Museum, which tells about the history of the region since the Paleolithic. The hotel is made in the form of a rectangle with a length of about 100 m. Its Plateresque facade is decorated with columns, carvings, sculptures and medallions.
Be sure to take a walk along the city’s main square, Plaza Mayor, surrounded by baroque buildings. Also of interest is the nearby area of Barrio Humedo., where the most famous restaurants and bars of the city are concentrated. In addition to restaurants, there is the oldest church in the city of San Salvador de Plat del Rey (10th century), the Church of San Martin of the 11th century, the Romanesque church of El Mercado of the 12th century, the palaces of Conde Luna of the 14th century, Casa de las Carnicerias, the 16th-century Palacio de los Guzmanes, which housed the provincial parliament, and the neo-Gothic Casa de Botines, designed by the architect Gaudí in the late 19th century. Also, one of the largest centers of contemporary art in Spain, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and León, has been opened in Leon . . Various exhibitions are constantly held here. And the building of the museum complex itself is of considerable interest: its facade is made of multi-colored glass, reminiscent of fragments of stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Leon.