Travel guide: León – My Kind of Town

Geographically, León is one of the most diverse provinces in the whole of Spain. On one hand, it is filled with high mountains (covered in snow during winter), steep cliffs and valleys sheltering lakes and gorges. On the other hand, it is blessed with flat plains watered by León’s rivers and streams which provide herds with pastures, and farmers with land to plant cereal crops.


Towards the north-east, nearby the border with Galicia, the province of León is characterized by its rolling countryside where round mountains covered in forests and picturesque villages can be easily found. I strongly believe that tiny cities provide certain amounts of magic and mystery everywhere. I like León; I like what it offers for those who come from outside its frontiers. Let yourself be conquered by an old university town retaining its past whilst looking to the future. Leon has Roman origins. It’s standing as an encampment city, which was consolidated with the definitive settlement of the Legio VII Gemina from 74 AD. The historical relevance of León is evident from 910 due to its active fighting in the Reconquista. Since then, centuries of history have been paraded through its streets.

Its status as a main town in the way of Saint James makes it a receptive point of tourism, both national and international. From almost any point in the city you can contemplate our French Gothic style cathedral. Its stained glasses are the most beautiful I have ever seen. There are many legends lying behind its walls.


Next to it, we have the Basilica of San Isidoro, tomb of medieval kings, and considered worldwide as the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque. You ought to visit the monastery of San Marcos. It was built thanks to an altruist financial donation by Ferdinand the Catholic. Nowadays, it is used as a hotel and as a museum. Its uses have varied throughout history. Francisco de Quevedo suffered imprisonment and wrote some of his most famous novels at this monastery.


Their bows are inspired by the shapes of the cathedral. Another most interesting fact about León is that among all the museums it has, the MUSCA holds with contemporary art expositions.

León is not only famous for its art, but also for its Eastern festivity, during which the city is full of people from all over the world. There’s the tradition named “killing jews”, also known as going to drink lemonade with friends. If you come to León just be sure to taste our “tapas”. If you are fond of eating, you’ll fall in love with León and its gastronomy. ‘Morcilla’, Valdeón cheese or trout soup are some of its delicatessen … And of course, we can’t not mention our stunning local wines: Prieto Picudo, Impresiones… Apart from everything mentioned above, León is more than a city full of amazing art during the day, and crazy parties at nights. It’s a different plan every weekend. It is a paradise to rediscover each morning. You should get yourself lost in ‘Picos de Europa’. Discover Boñar and the best wildlife museum in the world; Oseja Sajambre, Posada de Valdeón and their traditions and people. Enjoy the flora and fauna of this north-west land. Take a trip to Astorga. Be impressed by Gaudí Palace and share with your friends a ‘maragato stew’. Scrumptious.


Visit Ponferrada. Go to Babia. Check first hand why it was the heaven rest of the Catholic Kings.


And the most important thing: Enjoy every second you spend in our city. A visit of a lifetime.


Written by Ruth San José Blasco, AEGEE-León