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Leon is the capital of the province of Leon in the Castile and Leon region of Spain.
Leon is a pleasure to visit. It is a lively university town, has an attractive modern town and it has a fantastic old centre with one of Spain's best cathedral which has 1,800 meters sq of magnificent stained glass windows. The Romanesque Pantheon has outstanding wall paintings and is the burial site of more than 20 Spanish kings and queens. Spanish Renaissance architecture can be seen in the San Marcos Monastery, a resting point on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Explore Leon, Spain
Leon's cathedral is the main sight of the city. It was started in the 13th century and took 200 years to build. The exterior is covered in towers and buttresses which range in sizes and shapes. Symmetry was certainly not the goal of this cathedral.
Inside the stained glass windows are superb - amongst the best in Europe. The windows range from 13th to 20th century and display a wide range of scenes including details of medieval life. The Rose Window in the West Facade is 8m in diameter and is one of the oldest in the cathedral. There is a Diocesan museum inside and the entrance fee includes entrance to the cathedral's cloister.
The Basilica de San Isidoro was built largely in the 12th century. It was built for Fernando I as a shrine for San Isidoro and a mausoleum for himself and future royals of Spain. The Pantheon is the burial place for many kings, queens, princes and princesses of Spain. The Basilica has a beautiful facade and inside are magnificent capitals and frescoes.
The Hostal of San Marcos is a wonderful example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, indeed it is one of the best examples in Spain.
It was a station on the pilgrim route to Santiago and began as a monastery to house the pilgrims and for the Knights of Santiago who protected the pilgrims and led the reconquest.
In the 16th century it was rebuilt as the Knights' headquarters. Its main facade has Plasteresque relief work. It is now a parador but you can enter the foyer and bar and restaurant even if you are not staying there.
The Casa de Botines - built by Gaudi this building has a fairy-tale aspect with a gothic twist!
Also worth seeing are the Roman and Medieval town walls especially the San Isidro tower, the beautiful 16th century Palacio de los Guzmanes,
Museums in Leon
MUSAC is a modern art gallery which hosts an international music gallery every year.
Fundacion Vela Zanetti - exhibits of Zanetti's work.
Staying in Leon
Leon is a vibrant city with lots to offer visitors and plenty of bars, restaurants and accommodation to suit all budgets.
Places to Visit Nearby
Astorga with its unusual Palace Episcopal, designed by Gaudi, is close by and worth visiting. Just next to Astorga, Castrillo de los Polvazares is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
Map of Leon and places to visit
Leon places to visit
See more places nearby in the Castile and Leon guide