León (Spain) in Photos
Leon is a small city in Northwest Spain, founded by the Romans and later the capital of the Kingdom of León. The city was strategic in the Reconquista, the reconquering of Spain by Catholic forces over the Muslim Moors (culminating in 1492 upon the conquest of Granada).
We were meant to spend a week in León. Then Covid hit and we got stuck here. We ended up spending over 3 months in lockdown in León which has given us lots of time to explore this pretty city.
Lots of photos of León in this post.
León Cathedral, officially Santa María de León Cathedral, is the tourist highlight of the city. It is an majestic Cathedral with incredible stained glass windows (a post on the stained glass of León Cathedral . It’s one of the most impressive Cathedrals in Europe).
The Plaza Mayor, León’s main square, is a block from the Cathedral. It was the commercial heart of the city in the middle ages. It (usually) holds markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. During our stay that’s been put on hold…but it’s been interesting to see the Plaza waking up over the last few weeks after months of strict lockdown.
Thinking of moving to Spain? Marta at Balcells Group helped us get our Visas. She’s an immigration expert and will help you with all your Visa needs. More detail here.
Calle Ancha is León’s main street in the Old Town, a wide street with lots of stores, restaurants and impressive buildings.
The Barrio Húmedo is the nickname given to the old part of the city located within the mostly intact Roman walls. You’ll find tons of little streets with bars, clubs and restaurants. It’s usually very vibrant and we’re slowly seeing it coming back to life…
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The Convento de San Marcos is about a 15 minutes walk from the Center. It’s both one of the most beautiful buildings of León and a symbol of the Spanish Renaissance. Today it has a church, museum, and one of Spain’s most famous Paradors (hotel run by the Spanish state).
Next to the convent is the San Marcos bridge, built in the 12th century.
If you walk across the bridge you’ll get to Parque De Quevedo on the other side. Pretty park with peacocks.
Also not far from the Convent of San Marcos is the Contemporary Arts Museum (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León).
Besides León Cathedral and the Convent of San Marcos, the other must see religious building is the Basilica of San Isidoro (Basílica de San Isidoro). Located about 5 minutes walk from the Cathedral.
Roman stone walls still surround parts of the city (see the map I include at the bottom).
León’s old town has a lot of pretty squares. Our favorite is the Plaza del Grano.
The Casa Botines is one of León’s most interesting buildings (on the left, located next to the beautiful Palacio De Los Guzmanes). It was designed by Antoni Gaudi and built in 1891.
Some more photos to get a sense of León
Much more detail here: Highlights of a self-guided walking tour of León
León is an attractive city. As a tourist, 3 days will allow you to see and explore everything. We’ve been here 3 months and honestly León has been the perfect place to be in lockdown: it’s a relaxed, pretty city with lots to see within walking distance and we’ve been blessed to meet very nice people (including our Airbnb host Mariateresa) who have been very welcoming and accommodative.
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Your photo with the fountain and a tree on each side…. in that square is a lovely convent/hotel. We stayed there for 4 nights while walking the Camino. That view was our view from our room. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
It’s the Plaza de Grano, our favorite square and only about a minute from our apartment.
Frank, we missed out on visiting Leon last year, when we did a motorhome tour of Spain and visited some nearby cities. I think we will need to go back to this area and visit Leon, it really looks so pretty. It is such a shame that tourism has taken a big hit in places like this, but I hope they will be able to recover soon. Would you guys consider living in Leon? Would it make a good home base?
Nice place to visit Gilda but just can’t see us living there, mostly because there’s no mountains or sea in the immediate vicinity. I just need something to look at:)
wow it really is a very attractive town! Thanks for sharing the pics they are fab.
Ying & Brad
Wow, I feel like I have just been taken on a tour of Leon! Very good photos and detailed descriptions, again really appreciate the effort you put in Frank! We’re planning to go back to Spain in the near future and will include Leon in our itinerary.
Thanks for the comment. Leon very different from Southern Spain in the architecture, the cuisine and the weather (we’ve had pretty cool weather until this week…which has gotten very warm). We had hoped to visit Oviedo and Gijon but we just aren’t in the travelling around mindset right now. When we come back…
I spent several days in Leon last year and fell in love with the city. There is indeed a lot to like about it as it’s a very walkable city with a wonderful sense of history and magnificent buildings as your photos show. It looks like things are still pretty quiet there (as they are here even with the relaxing of the lockdown regulations) as I remember the streets teeming with people in early June when I visited there. How nice to explore and take pictures without having to deal with the crowds. Keep well and enjoy your time exploring Spain!
It’s hard putting in context how “quiet” it is not having been here during normal pre-covid times. There are so many bars and restaurants in the old town (many still closed) that you wonder how they can all survive.
Sadly, there are a lot of for sale and for rent signs. I don’t know how good the economy was before…but I think the virus might have been the last straw for a lot of people.