León is a city in Spain, and capital of the province of the same name. It is on the Way of St. James and has a vast cultural, historical and architectural heritage. Some of the city's most prominent historical buildings are the Cathedral, one of the finest examples of French-style classic Gothic architecture in Spain, the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of León's medieval monarchs, the Monastery of San Marcos, an example of plateresque and Renaissance Spanish architecture, and the Casa Botines, a Modernist creation of the architect Antoni Gaudí. An example of modern architecture is the city's Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC).
The city of León is in the northwest of Spain. León was founded in the 1st century BC by the Roman legion Legio VI Victrix, which served under Caesar Augustus during the Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC), the final stage of the Roman conquest of Hispania. In the year 74 AD, the Legio VII Gemina —recruited from the Hispanics by Galba in 69 AD— settled in a permanent military camp that was the origin of the city. Its modern name is derived from the city's Latin name Legio. The Kingdom of León (established in 910 CE) was an ancient territory with a great Dynasty of Kings that would become kings of Spain after the union with the Kingdom of Aragon. The counties of Portugal and Castile were born as divisions of the ancient kingdom of León that remained independent until the union with Castile again.
It has a city population of about 125,000 inhabitants and a metropolitan area of 203,000 (2018).
In winter, temperatures normally range from −1 °C (30 °F) to 13 °C (55 °F). Frost is common in the early hours of the morning before the dawn during the coldest days of the winter, but normally melts after sunrise. Snowfalls are not rare in the city (9 days a year), however heavy snowfalls are extremely rare. During spring, temperatures are usually between 10 °C (50 °F) on the coldest days and may easily surpass 25 °C (77 °F) on some days. Summers are warm and relatively dry, with temperatures usually oscillating between 16 °C (61 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F). In the hottest days of summer, it's uncommon that temperatures reach over 35 °C (95 °F).
ALSA (☏ ) runs buses from Madrid several times a day (3½ hr). Buses leave from Estación Sur de Autobuses at the metro station Méndez Álvaro, a round trip costs €20-40 per person. There are also some direct bus connections from Madrid Barajas International Airport.
- 1 León railway station.
- 2 León Airport (LEN IATA) (in the municipality of Virgen del Camino, 6 km from the city, access to the airport by road is from the N-120 Leon-Astorga road). daily connections with Madrid and Barcelona. Flights are operated by (Iberia) with connections to main Spanish and European cities.
Taxi to the city centre costs between €20-25. There is also a public bus which costs €3, for the schedule, ☏.
The city is not too big to see on foot, especially the main attractions, which are all quite close to one another. Parking is available in underground carpark close to centre, 0.03¢ per minute.
The city of León was founded by the Romans. Its name originates from the name Romans gave to the city, "Legio VII". Tourists who come to León can enjoy many monuments such as the city walls, the gothic cathedral or Roman monuments such as the Church of San Marcelo €14.
- 1 Santa María de León Cathedral. The premier architectural attraction, completed in the late 16th century. Superb stained glass - one of the oldest and largest in the world. Try to be there when the sun is streaming through. €7.
- Church of San Isodoro (Real Basilica de San Isidoro). Built in the 11th century, with the adjoining Pantheon of the Kings of León. The ceiling paintings in the latter are breathtaking. There is a small library packed with 10th, 11th and 12th century hand-written manuscripts, and the sarcophagus of King Ferdinand I (not the Ferdinand of Ferdinand and Isabella.) €14 closed Monday..
- Hospital de San Marcos.
- 2 Casa Botines. One of the few buildings by Antoni Gaudí to be found outside of Barcelona. (There's another one – Palacio Episcopal – in nearby Astorga €7.) €8 (€6 discount).
- Palacio de los Guzmanes, a 15th-century palace, and current seat of Lèon administration. Free, guided tour you need to sign up first. Wednesday to Sunday.
- Palacio de los Condes de Luna. It's under restoration.
- Roman Walls near Plaza San Isidoro
- 3 MUSAC, 24 Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses. The Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Museo de León. In Edificio Pallarés, a 20th-century building in Santo Domingo circus.
- [dead link] Fundación Vela Zanetti. The museum about Zanetti's paintings.
From the cathedral, to the Bernesga River, there are two main streets, Calle Ancha, and Ordoño II, full of shops. In the middle of Ordoño II there's Alcázar de Toledo Street with shops.
Within the wide range of Leonese cuisine the following dishes are the most representative: Cecina (cured, smoked beef), morcilla (a superb variant of blood sausage), botillo (a dish of meat-stuffed pork intestine), garlic soup, el cocido leonés (a mix of meat with vegetables and chickpeas, served after a vegetable-vermicelli soup) and mantecadas (a sweet).
Another very important part of the gastronomy of León are the tapas that you can get in most of the many bars in the city. The most important thing about these tapas is that they are free unlike in most cities in Spain. It is a very common thing to do to go "de tapas" or "tapear" i.e. to go for a few drinks ("un corto", which is a very small beer, "una caña", which is roughly half a pint of beer or "un vino," a glass of wine) just before lunch, but more normally as a light form of dinner.
Any tourist visiting León will enjoy the ancient streets of "Barrio Húmedo". There it is possible to visit many bars in which tapas (for free) are served along with nice wines from "Tierras de Leon", "Ribera de Duero", or "Vino del Bierzo".
You can also visit some villages near Leon with vineyards such as Valdevimbre. There you will find caves that are as old as 300 years. Originally they were dug for wine cellars since they maintain nearly the same temperature year round. Today they are still used to make wine. Some of them have become restaurants or pubs.
The oldest cave-restaurant was opened in 1979 and it is called La Cueva del Tunel. It has a typical decoration with an Indian touch.
In Los Poinos you can find a mix between new cuisine and typical food from Leon.
In any of the Cuevas restaurants you will be able to enjoy the typical food from Leon such as cecina, callos, morcilla (blood pudding), etc. all those traditional place will be accompanied by local wines as Pardevalles, Tampesta, Barcillo or Los Palomares (inside the new D.O. Tierras de Leon).
Valdevimbre is 23 km from Leon and you can drive there or get a taxi for approximately €25 from Leon.
All these are in the city center:
- 1 La Somoza Tradición, C/ Platerias, 4. Very elaborate and excellent cuisine, recovering recipe books and giving visibility to local products. Working in a fantastic way on typical dishes of León.
- 2 Meson Jabugo, Pl. San Martín, 6. Super nice place in the square with atmosphere. Homemade and delicious food. Very generous tapas.
- 3 Restaurante La Casa del Cocido, Calle Serradores, 4. Nice restaurant to eat the typical cocido leones. Very good menu, varied and extensive.
- 4 Taberna Misericordia, C. Misericordia, 9. The best pirate tavern in León. A cozy place, with a very good attention and an excellent service. A wonderful bar and the waiters go out they make you feel at home.
- 5 Pizzería La Competencia, C. Conde Rebolledo, 17. A good place both for lunch and dinner to have tapas and try their pizzas. Excellent lasagna, abundant food. Very tasty jerky pizza with chestnut.
- 6 Jamón Jamón, C. Azabachería, 6. Site with spectacular sausage tapas which are very generous. Super friendly and attentive waitress.
- 7 Restaurante Lumière, Calle Ancha, 18. High quality and originality of the dishes. Very pleasant interior. The place in particular is beautiful, pleasant and relaxed decorated, well cared for by its attentive employees, who are well dressed. Quick service.
- 8 Restaurante Alfonso Valderas, C. Arco de Ánimas, 1. They make cod like nobody else. With valderas, green sauce or with squid and two sauces: They are all delicious. Treatment, quality, warmth, flavors - all 10. The very professional service is always friendly.
- 9 niMÚ Azotea, C. Gral. Lafuente. Spectacular views from one of the sides of the terrace. The food is very rich and original. Very attentive service. It doesn't matter what you order because everything is incredible but if you like meat, ask for the sirloin and salt.
- 10 Pagus Pasta y Grill Leon, Calle Villa Benavente, 16. Unbeatable meat. Incredible food and gluten-free variety. Food more than acceptable in quantity, quality and preparation. Very cozy atmosphere. The staff is attentive at all times and the service is very fast. To be loved.
- 11 Restaurante Pablo, Av. los Cubos, 8. An exquisite menu, and successful and excellent selection of wines. All this, together with an exceptional treatment, make it a very pleasant gastronomic experience. Cozy place, friendly and synchronized staff for the attention and collection of each dish. Above all the dishes are very elaborate, with local products and an explosion of flavors and sensations.
- 12 Restaurante Cocinandos, Plaza San Marcos, 5. Exceptional service, where they explain each of the dishes with a brief presentation. They use products from the region and are based on Leonese cuisine. Minimalist but with generous amounts. Each month the menu is updated so it is definitely worth coming again.
Tierra de León is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines from the south of the province of León. This wines are usually done with the unique grape variety typical from Leon, the Prieto Picudo, although Mencía type of grapes are also used. The Tierra de Léon wine region consists of 36 vineyards (Bodegas), which produce 1.5 million litres of wine annually.
Go bar-hopping or clubbing in the barrio húmedo, a charming old neighborhood with narrow streets, with a concentration of pubs, discos, and restaurants. This area isn't usually very active during the day and can get fairly rowdy at night. However, despite how many people may be stumbling around drunkenly at 03:00, this neighbourhood is very safe, even for single females late at night.
- Hotel Paris, Calle Ancha. 100 m to cathedral.
- Hotel NH Plaza Mayor. Set in the middle of Barrio Humedo. 300 m to cathedral.
- Parador de León, Pza. de San Marcos, ☏ , email@example.com. A great deluxe hotel set in a gorgeous 15th-century building.
- Hotel Alfonso V Santo Domingo circus, town centre.
1 Astorga is a town 43 km (27 mi) south-west from León. It sits on a spur of rock, with mountains to the north and west. It has extant city walls to the south, east, and west. You can walk along the walls to the south and gaze up in awe from one of the more scenic car parks to the north. Most camera crews doing Gaudi do not get as far as Astorga. However, the town is a stopover on the French Way of the Way of St. James pilgrimage.
- 4 Bishop's Palace (Palacio Episcopal). One of few buildings by Antoni Gaudí to be found outside of Barcelona: a fantastic piece of non-functional design. Balconies open over halls, walls curve and the whole flows. More conservative than others of his design, but still too much for the bishops, who never lived in it. €7 for adults.
- 5 Astorga Cathedral (Catedral de Santa María de Astorga). €7 includes audio tour and church museum, discounts available for pilgrims. €2 extra to climb the tower..
- 6 Chocolate museum (Museo del Chocolate de Astorga).
- Pilgrim's Way museum (Museo de los Caminos) (in the episcopal palace). A museum dedicated to the Pilgrim's Way, mostly interesting for those walking along it. h.
- 7 Roman museum (La Ergastula). Museum on archeaological findings, from the Roman and Medieval times. There are also Roman archaeological remains in an near the town, including those of the original military camp, the sewers, two baths (late 1st and 3rd century AD), remains of the forum and several mosaics.
- Town hall. Construction started in 1683. It is a Baroque edifice with three towers in its façade, the middle one including the bells.
In León Province:
- Grajal de Campos: Medieval castle, church and palace
- San Miguel de la Escalada, 10th-century monastery
- Sahagún, 15th-century churches
- Villafranca del Bierzo
Outside León Province:
|Routes through Logroño|
|Santiago de Compostela ← San Martín del Camino ←||w E||→ Mansilla de las Mulas → Burgos|