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Leon

León

Leon is one of the more historic regions of Old Castile. It is a fairly large province, bordered by Galicia and Asturias. Very few Celtic remains have been found here but there is evidence of Roman occupation including the remains of a Roman wall. Other peoples have settled here, including the Moors but it was the Knights Templar who built castles and fortifications here in the Middle Ages, that are probably the most impressive.

Much of this region has escaped the tourist boom and it remains largely wooded or mountainous, making it an ideal location for the trout fishing that attracts so many people each year.

The city of Leon has been very cosmopolitan, even since Roman times when it was known as Legio Septima due to the fact that the seventh legion was stationed here. The Moors moved in briefly but were driven out by the kings of Asturias who chose it as their new capital in AD913.

 

One of Leon's glories is without any doubt, the Cathedral, one of the finest in Europe and having been constructed from the 13th century and taking over 200 years to complete. Among its unusual features are its towers and steeples where, strangely, no attempt was made to make them match. It has more than 250 remarkable stained glass windows including a large rose window. In total there is over 1800 square metres of glass. The cathedral museum is also worthy of a visit with its large array of exhibits.

Other places of interest and worth visiting are The Collegiate Church of San Isidoro, which houses an impressive collection of early manuscripts and is of early Romanesque construction.

Leon Cathedral

The Convento de San Marcos is the former house of the Knights of Santiago. Although the origins of it date back to the 12th century, the facade dates from the 16th century. Today it is a luxury hotel whose interior has the appearance of a museum. The building has in the past also served as a hospital and a prison.

The Old Town Hall was erected in the late 17th century and commands the Plaza Mayor.

The Palacio de los Guzmanes is a magnificent 16th century building with an impressive courtyard and four towers. It was once the home of the Guzman family, one of the wealthiest families in León.

The Casa de Botines is an impressive piece by Gaudí with large turrets on each corner.

The Town Walls are a mixture of Roman and Medieval construction and are very impressive. The San Isidro Tower is of particular interest.

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