Leon
Ubicación

TOUR DESCRIPTION

GETTING YOUR BEARINGS

If a Spaniard thinks of León, the first thing that comes to their mind is the Cathedral, the best example of French Gothic in the country. This monument is the cornerstone of the town’s impressive monumental heritage. Furthermore, León is a key step on the Way of St. James, named a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

The name of León comes from the Roman legion that established a military camp here. The remaining examples of the town’s Roman past are the 3rd century walls and the archaeological sites of the thermal baths and the amphitheatre, together with an interpretation centre focused on the Roman history of León. After the Medieval Reconquest the Christian capital moved from Oviedo (Asturias) to León. The kingdom of León had just been found. It lasted for three centuries, until its disappearance in 1230, following its final union with Castile.

TOUR DESCRIPTION

Our meeting point is outside the Cathedral. The 1,700 sqm of stained-glass windows covering its walls have no equivalent in Spain. They are the hallmark of this building, an element that makes it unique. The cathedral is imposing, but fragile as well. The immensity and lightness of the stained-glass windows combined with the flimsy limestone ashlars of the monument have always caused serious stability problems. To make matters worse, the temple was built over the town’s Roman baths.

The transept and the ambulatory -whose walls are covered with Gothic tombs-, the retro-choir- carved with elegant Renaissance alabaster reliefs-, the “Virgen del Dado” portico -which retains the original colours-, the cloister -15th century frescoes-, the staircase of Juan of Badajoz el Mozo (16th century), the immense Cathedral Museum, with Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance sculptures and a miniature Mozarabic bible … are some examples of the exceptional nature of this monument.

After the visit, you will turn the cathedral around, to get a nice perspective from each side of the building. Behind it, a long fragment of the Roman wall is still remaining, on which the cathedral apse is embedded.

The second tour step is Plaza Mayor (Main square), the historic local setting of weekly markets and major popular events. The square is sided by the former Renaissance Town Hall. We will then guide you through the narrow streets of “Barrio Húmedo” (wet district), the town’s meeting and tapas area par excellence.

Ancha (Main) street links the cathedral to church of San Marcelo, a Roman legionnaire and martyr, who is the patron saint of the city. In addition, Ancha street separates the Wet district, to the south, and the Romantic Quarter, also with very busy places. The street is flanked by 19th century houses, with some shops full of traditional character, such as Merino pharmacy (1901).

The Guzmanes palace is the town’s most important civil monument. It is a work by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, a great architect of the Spanish Renaissance, who was commissioned by the descendants of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, named “el Bueno” (the good), a historic figure to be reckoned with, as you will be explained. The palace courtyard is decorated with classic Italian Renaissance motifs.

Next door is Casa Botines, an architecture masterpiece by Antonio Gaudí. The house was commissioned from him by a Catalan businessman, Homs i Botinàs (hence the building’s popular name), to install a hardware store on the ground floor and his own home above. Casa Botines shows off Gaudí’s imagination and fantasy: towers topped with pinnacles, neo-Gothic windows, wrought iron staircases, Catalan style vaults… and a statue of Saint George slaying the dragon above the doorway.

The tour continues until the collegiate church of San Isidoro, built by Fernando I and his wife, Sancha, in the 11th century. It is considered the main Romanesque monument in Spain, for its architectural value and outstanding collection of decorative arts. At the foot of the church, the Royal Pantheon is the burial place of the kings of León. Due to its exceptional artistic value (frescoed vaults and capital carvings) the room is called the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art. At San Isidoro cloister the first Cortes (former Parliament) was summoned in 1188. For the very first time, the session was joined by the common citizens, together with noblemen and the clergy. The city of León has thence been recognized as the cradle of parliamentarism by UNESCO.

Your tour comes to an end at San Marcos hospital, nowadays a hotel (Parador), the first example of Renaissance architecture in Spain (16th century). It is located next to the bridge by which pilgrims to Santiago have been crossing Bernesga river for centuries. San Marcos was built as a pilgrim hospital and became the headquarters of the knights of the Order of Santiago in Western Spain. Its 100-metre long impressive façade is unmistakable. Relieves of great historic figures are represented on medallions (kings of the Bible, emperors of the Ancient Rome and monarchs of Spain). Some artists of the highest prestige at the time worked in this monument, such as the architect Juan de Badajoz el Mozo and the sculptor Juan de Juni.

You can enhance the tour by visiting “Conde Luna” palace. This Gothic and Renaissance building, leaning on the remains of the Roman wall, holds a permanent exhibition on the history of the kingdom of León (910-1230), that played a capital role in the Medieval history of Spain. 

DURATION  

3h 30 minutes

4 hours (including a visit to Conde Luna Palace)

You are also suggested to complete your stay with a visit to the Mozarabic church of San Miguel de la Escalada (10th century), 27 km from the city. Mozarabic style is a kind of Pre-Romanesque art influenced by Islamic architecture. The monument has a beautiful external gallery and three naves separated from the main chapel by an iconostasis, a decorative barrier typical of Byzantine, Visigoth and Pre-Romanesque art.

In this experience...

What will you do There is much more to see in León besides its cathedral...
More details ... San Isidoro and San Marcos are the best examples of it
Included Visit of the Cathedral, the church of San Isidoro and the hospital of San Marcos (entrance fee not included), together with a complete tour in the town's centre.

Prepare yourself...

DID YOU NOW…

The cathedral of León was the first National Monument declared in Spain, in 1844. Thanks to it, a long restoration campaign (42 years) could be undertaken, when the temple remained closed to worship.

Several experts claim that Dona Urraca’s chalice (12th century), treasured at the collegiate church of San Isidoro, is the true Holy Grail. You will be explained the theory on which these specialists are based… trying not to bother people from Valencia, who also claim their Cathedral houses that religious jewel.

The Spanish northwest was the only non-border territory in the Roman empire that had a fixed army settlement. The Roman legions were only deployed at the borders, as Rome did not maintain troops inside the territory.

Gaudí’s stay in León was the result of the trade relationship between Casa Botines owner and the Count Güell (who named the park in Barcelona). As the town of León had a Catalan bishop in the meantime, Gaudí was also commissioned to build the Episcopal Palace in Astorga. So, two of Gaudí’s three buildings existing outside Catalonia, are situated in the province of León.

Guzmán el Bueno is an example of old-fashioned patriotism. He preferred to allow his son’s murder rather than surrender the castle of Tarifa (Cádiz) to the Muslims, to whom he even threw his own dagger from the battlements… The Medieval hero’s statue stands on one of the main squares in the centre of León. His gesture, pointing decisively onto the other side of the river, where the railway station is located, has fueled a local saying that is jokingly put in his mouth: “if you don’t like León, there you have the station” (the phrase rhymes in Spanish).

Punto de encuentro
Important information The entrance fee to the monuments is not included in the visit. This is a generic proposal for groups, which we can adapt to your interest and needs

We recommend
Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is advised

BOOK YOUR TOUR

This activity requires a prior booking. Please complete the following form. As soon as the availability is checked, we will confirm your booking and inform about the payment proceedings.

Full Name (required)

E-mail (required)

Phone

ZIP Code

Chosen Activity

Date

Number of Adults

Number of Children

Comments

Additional information

Duración3h 30min

TOUR DESCRIPTION

GETTING YOUR BEARINGS

If a Spaniard thinks of León, the first thing that comes to their mind is the Cathedral, the best example of French Gothic in the country. This monument is the cornerstone of the town’s impressive monumental heritage. Furthermore, León is a key step on the Way of St. James, named a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

The name of León comes from the Roman legion that established a military camp here. The remaining examples of the town’s Roman past are the 3rd century walls and the archaeological sites of the thermal baths and the amphitheatre, together with an interpretation centre focused on the Roman history of León. After the Medieval Reconquest the Christian capital moved from Oviedo (Asturias) to León. The kingdom of León had just been found. It lasted for three centuries, until its disappearance in 1230, following its final union with Castile.

TOUR DESCRIPTION

Our meeting point is outside the Cathedral. The 1,700 sqm of stained-glass windows covering its walls have no equivalent in Spain. They are the hallmark of this building, an element that makes it unique. The cathedral is imposing, but fragile as well. The immensity and lightness of the stained-glass windows combined with the flimsy limestone ashlars of the monument have always caused serious stability problems. To make matters worse, the temple was built over the town’s Roman baths.

The transept and the ambulatory -whose walls are covered with Gothic tombs-, the retro-choir- carved with elegant Renaissance alabaster reliefs-, the “Virgen del Dado” portico -which retains the original colours-, the cloister -15th century frescoes-, the staircase of Juan of Badajoz el Mozo (16th century), the immense Cathedral Museum, with Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance sculptures and a miniature Mozarabic bible … are some examples of the exceptional nature of this monument.

After the visit, you will turn the cathedral around, to get a nice perspective from each side of the building. Behind it, a long fragment of the Roman wall is still remaining, on which the cathedral apse is embedded.

The second tour step is Plaza Mayor (Main square), the historic local setting of weekly markets and major popular events. The square is sided by the former Renaissance Town Hall. We will then guide you through the narrow streets of “Barrio Húmedo” (wet district), the town’s meeting and tapas area par excellence.

Ancha (Main) street links the cathedral to church of San Marcelo, a Roman legionnaire and martyr, who is the patron saint of the city. In addition, Ancha street separates the Wet district, to the south, and the Romantic Quarter, also with very busy places. The street is flanked by 19th century houses, with some shops full of traditional character, such as Merino pharmacy (1901).

The Guzmanes palace is the town’s most important civil monument. It is a work by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, a great architect of the Spanish Renaissance, who was commissioned by the descendants of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, named “el Bueno” (the good), a historic figure to be reckoned with, as you will be explained. The palace courtyard is decorated with classic Italian Renaissance motifs.

Next door is Casa Botines, an architecture masterpiece by Antonio Gaudí. The house was commissioned from him by a Catalan businessman, Homs i Botinàs (hence the building’s popular name), to install a hardware store on the ground floor and his own home above. Casa Botines shows off Gaudí’s imagination and fantasy: towers topped with pinnacles, neo-Gothic windows, wrought iron staircases, Catalan style vaults… and a statue of Saint George slaying the dragon above the doorway.

The tour continues until the collegiate church of San Isidoro, built by Fernando I and his wife, Sancha, in the 11th century. It is considered the main Romanesque monument in Spain, for its architectural value and outstanding collection of decorative arts. At the foot of the church, the Royal Pantheon is the burial place of the kings of León. Due to its exceptional artistic value (frescoed vaults and capital carvings) the room is called the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art. At San Isidoro cloister the first Cortes (former Parliament) was summoned in 1188. For the very first time, the session was joined by the common citizens, together with noblemen and the clergy. The city of León has thence been recognized as the cradle of parliamentarism by UNESCO.

Your tour comes to an end at San Marcos hospital, nowadays a hotel (Parador), the first example of Renaissance architecture in Spain (16th century). It is located next to the bridge by which pilgrims to Santiago have been crossing Bernesga river for centuries. San Marcos was built as a pilgrim hospital and became the headquarters of the knights of the Order of Santiago in Western Spain. Its 100-metre long impressive façade is unmistakable. Relieves of great historic figures are represented on medallions (kings of the Bible, emperors of the Ancient Rome and monarchs of Spain). Some artists of the highest prestige at the time worked in this monument, such as the architect Juan de Badajoz el Mozo and the sculptor Juan de Juni.

You can enhance the tour by visiting “Conde Luna” palace. This Gothic and Renaissance building, leaning on the remains of the Roman wall, holds a permanent exhibition on the history of the kingdom of León (910-1230), that played a capital role in the Medieval history of Spain. 

DURATION  

3h 30 minutes

4 hours (including a visit to Conde Luna Palace)

You are also suggested to complete your stay with a visit to the Mozarabic church of San Miguel de la Escalada (10th century), 27 km from the city. Mozarabic style is a kind of Pre-Romanesque art influenced by Islamic architecture. The monument has a beautiful external gallery and three naves separated from the main chapel by an iconostasis, a decorative barrier typical of Byzantine, Visigoth and Pre-Romanesque art.

In this experience...

What will you do There is much more to see in León besides its cathedral...
More details ... San Isidoro and San Marcos are the best examples of it
Included Visit of the Cathedral, the church of San Isidoro and the hospital of San Marcos (entrance fee not included), together with a complete tour in the town's centre.

Prepare yourself...

DID YOU NOW…

The cathedral of León was the first National Monument declared in Spain, in 1844. Thanks to it, a long restoration campaign (42 years) could be undertaken, when the temple remained closed to worship.

Several experts claim that Dona Urraca’s chalice (12th century), treasured at the collegiate church of San Isidoro, is the true Holy Grail. You will be explained the theory on which these specialists are based… trying not to bother people from Valencia, who also claim their Cathedral houses that religious jewel.

The Spanish northwest was the only non-border territory in the Roman empire that had a fixed army settlement. The Roman legions were only deployed at the borders, as Rome did not maintain troops inside the territory.

Gaudí’s stay in León was the result of the trade relationship between Casa Botines owner and the Count Güell (who named the park in Barcelona). As the town of León had a Catalan bishop in the meantime, Gaudí was also commissioned to build the Episcopal Palace in Astorga. So, two of Gaudí’s three buildings existing outside Catalonia, are situated in the province of León.

Guzmán el Bueno is an example of old-fashioned patriotism. He preferred to allow his son’s murder rather than surrender the castle of Tarifa (Cádiz) to the Muslims, to whom he even threw his own dagger from the battlements… The Medieval hero’s statue stands on one of the main squares in the centre of León. His gesture, pointing decisively onto the other side of the river, where the railway station is located, has fueled a local saying that is jokingly put in his mouth: “if you don’t like León, there you have the station” (the phrase rhymes in Spanish).

Punto de encuentro
Important information The entrance fee to the monuments is not included in the visit. This is a generic proposal for groups, which we can adapt to your interest and needs

We recommend
Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is advised

BOOK YOUR TOUR

This activity requires a prior booking. Please complete the following form. As soon as the availability is checked, we will confirm your booking and inform about the payment proceedings.

Full Name (required)

E-mail (required)

Phone

ZIP Code

Chosen Activity

Date

Number of Adults

Number of Children

Comments

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