León

León is a clear example of a historical city that has been able to adapt to modern times. Capital of the bright and open province of León, it attracts large numbers of visitors every year, drawn by the city's major tourist attractions such as, for example, the Cathedral and the HOLY WEEK, declared to be of International Tourist Interest. The city of León (139,809 inhabitants) was established as a result of an accumulation of historical events that originated as a Roman camp ("Legio") in a period of which several vestiges are still visible. The capital of the Medieval Kingdom of León, which later merged with the Kingdom of Castilla, was an important resting place for pilgrims travelling the Road to Santiago.

Location, map, useful information

The Spanish province of León forms part of the Autonomous Region of Castilla y León. It is located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula and its capital is León. It borders to the north with the Principality of Asturias and Cantabria, to the west with Galicia (more specifically with the provinces of Orense and Lugo), to the south with the provinces of Zamora and Valladolid, and to the east with the province of Palencia. The province of León covers a total surface of 15,581 km², with a total population of 495,902 inhabitants (INE 2005) and a population density of 31,82 inhabitants/km². The province of León is a place of transit between important regions of the Iberian Peninsula and is crossed by two major ancient routes: the Vía de la Plata (Silver Route) from south to north, and the Road to Santiago from east to west.

History, Art and Heritage

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The city of León has a wide variety of singular buildings that turn it into a very special place: the Cathedral, when visited on a sunny day, becomes a multi-colour space created by the magnificent stained glass windows; the Basilica of San Isidoro, which is said to have some of the most beautiful wall paintings in Europe ("The Sistine Chapel of Romanesque Art"); the Parador of San Marcos, formerly a hospital for pilgrims travelling the Road to Santiago and now a luxurious hotel; as well as many other prominent buildings such as the Palace of Guzmanes or the "Casa de los Botines", built by the brilliant architect Gaudí. León is also famous for being an academic city with a broad offer of traditional university careers and a wide range of Spanish language courses for foreigners. This student-oriented atmosphere can be felt, especially during certain hours of the day, by taking a walk through the so-called "Barrio Húmedo" (literally "wet district"), home to a multitude of bars and restaurants where you can taste the typical sausages of the region (especially the famous "cecina" or corned beef), accompanied by a nice glass of wine from León.

Leisure and gastronomy

The most representative dishes of the gastronomy of León are the Cocido Maragato (a full meal dish typical of Astorga and surrounding area), and the traditional dishes of El Bierzo, famous for its "botillo" (a delicious dish of cured pork meat with potatoes and vegetables).

Typical dishes from León:
  • Botillo (cured pork meat with potatoes and vegetables)
  • Cocido maragato (stew of chickpeas, meat, bacon, etc.)
  • Sopa de trucha (trout soup)
  • Sopas de ajo (garlic soup)

Near the city

The province of León is very extensive and varied, and offers numerous possibilities for excursions. Worth visiting is Astorga, with the Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace of Gaudí, and the picturesque villages of La Maragatería. The Picos de Europa (literally "Peaks of Europe") provide an excellent environment for a day of trekking; you can hike down the canyons and go rafting in Los Ancares; or you can go skiing in San Isidro. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and far away from the bustle of the city, the mountainous regions of León are the best choice for those who enjoy rural tourism, as it has a broad offer of country hotels, big old houses built of stone, identical to those of ancient times. We strongly recommend a visit to El Bierzo, a wide valley with a particular microclimate that allows for the production of D.O. wine and rich brandies. Other typical products of this region are tinned cherries, peppers and chestnuts with a special homemade touch. When in El Bierzo, visit the gold-mining area of Las Médulas: a magical place with a breathtaking landscape characterised by deep rocky ravines and old mining shafts, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Location

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El tiempo en León