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León (Spain)

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Leon is a city in Spain, and capital of the province of the same name. It has a city population of about 140,000 inhabitants and a metropolitan area of 200,000.

Understand[edit]

The city of León is located in the northwest of Spain. It is situated on on the Way of St. James and has a vast cultural, historical and architectural heritage.


Get in[edit]

Bus[edit]

ALSA, +34 902-44-22-42, [1] runs buses from Madrid several times a day (3h 30 min). Buses leave from Estación Sur de Autobuses at the metro station Méndez Álvaro, a round trip costs between 20€ and 40€ per person. There are also some direct bus connections from Madrid Barajas International Airport.

Train[edit]

Renfe, +34 902-240-202, [2] operates train service to/from Madrid (2h 50 min). Trains leve from Chamartin (Madrid north station) to León several times a day.

There are also direct train connections to Valladolid (1h 40min), Barcelona (8h), and other spanish cities.

Plane[edit]

León Airport (IATA: LEN) is is located in the municipality of Virgen del Camino, six kilometres from the city, and has daily connections with Madrid and Barcelona. Flights are operated by Iberia (Iberia) with connections to main spanish and european cities. Access to the airport by road is from the N-120 Leon-Astorga road, and a taxi to the city centre costs between €20 and €25. There is also a public bus which costs €3, for the schedule information yo have contact the phone number 987 219 656.

Nearby airports are Valladolid Aiport (125km) and Asturias Airport (170km). ALSA operates daily direct services from Valladolid airport to León.

Get around[edit]

The city is not too big to see on foot, especially the main attractions, which are all quite close to one another.


See[edit][add listing]

12th century Romanesque frescoes of the Pantheon of Kings at the Basilica of San Isidro
Cathedral leon.jpg

The city of León was founded by Romans, as a matter of fact its own name originates from the name Romans gave to the city "Legio VII". Tourists that come to León can enjoy many monuments such as the city walls, the gothic cathedral or romanic monuments such as the Church of San Marcelo.

Landmarks and architecture[edit]

As well as the cathedral with its superb stained glass (try to see it when the sun is streaming through) there are at least other three must-see attractions:

  • The collegiate Church of San Isodoro' (11th century) and the adjoining Pantheon of the Kings of León. The ceiling paintings in the latter are breathtaking.
  • The former Hospital de San Marcos is reckoned by many to be Spain's very best Parador.
  • The Casa Botines is one of the few buildings by Gaudi to be found outside of Barcelona.

Other attractions include:

  • Palacio de los Guzmanes, a 15th century palace.
  • Palacio de los Condes de Luna. It's on restoration works.
  • Roman Walls

Museums[edit]

  • MUSAC, the new Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Museo de León, set IN Edificio Pallarés , a 20th century building in Santo Domingo circus.
  • Fundación Vela Zanetti, the museum about Zanetti's paintings.


Other villages[edit]

The village of Astorga features:

  • The Walls - Astorga sits on a spur of rock, with mountains to the north and west. It has extant city walls to the south, east and west. You can walk along the walls to the south and gaze up in awe from one of the more scenic car parks to the north.
  • The Bishop's Palace - Most camera crews doing Gaudi do not get as far as Astorga. The Bishop's palace is a fantastic piece of non-functional design. Balconies open over halls, walls curve and the whole flows. More conservative than other of his designs but still too much for the bishops, who never lived in it. It also has a museum dedicated to the Pilgrims way - which is not worth diverting to see.

Do[edit][add listing]

Go bar-hopping and/or clubbing in the "barrio húmedo", a charming old neighborhood with narrow streets, which tremendous concentration of pubs, discos, and restaurants. This area isn´t usually very active during the day-time and can get fairly rowdy at night. However, despite how many people may be stumbling around drunkenly at 3am, this neighborhood is very safe, even for unescorted females late at night.


Buy[edit][add listing]

From the Cathedral, to the Bernesga River, there are two of the main streets, Calle Ancha, and Ordoño II, full of shops. In the middle of Ordoño II there's Alcázar de Toledo street, with sucursals of Spanish shops.


Eat[edit][add listing]

Within the wide range of Leonese cuisine the following dishes are the most representative: Cecina (cured, smoked beef), morcilla (a superb variant of blood sausage), botillo (a dish of meat-stuffed pork intestine), garlic soup, el cocido leonés (a mix of meat with vegetables and chickpeas, served after a vegetable-vermicelli soup) and mantecadas (a sweet).

Another very important part of the gastronomy of León are the tapas that you can get in most of the many bars in the city. The most important thing about these tapas is that they are free unlike in most cities in Spain. It is a very common thing to do to go "de tapas" or "tapear" i.e. to go for a few drinks ("un corto", which is a very small beer, "una caña", which is roughly half a pint of beer or "un vino," a glass of wine) just before lunch, but more normally as a light form of dinner.

Any tourist visiting León will enjoy the ancient streets of "Barrio Húmedo". There it is possible to visit many bars in which tapas are served along with nice wines from "Tierras de Leon", "Ribera de Duero", or "Vino del Bierzo".

You can also visit some villages near Leon with vineyards such as Valdevimbre. There you will find caves that are as old as 300 years. Originally they were dug for wine cellars since they maintain nearly the same temperature year round. Today they are still used to make wine. Some of them have become restaurants or pubs.

The oldest cave-restaurant was opened in 1979 and it is called La Cueva del Tunel[3]. It has a typical decoration with an Indian touch.

In Los Poinos [4] you can find a mix between new cuisine and typical food from Leon.

In any of the Cuevas restaurants you will be able to enjoy the typical food from Leon such as cecina, callos, morcilla (blood pudding), etc. all those traditional place will be accompanied by local wines as Pardevalles[5], Tampesta, Barcillo or Los Palomares (inside the new D.O. Tierras de Leon).

Valdevimbre is 23 km from Leon and you can drive there or get a taxi for approximately 25EUR from Leon.


Drink[edit][add listing]

Tierra de León is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines located in the south of the province of León. This wines are usually done with the unique grape variety typical from Leon, the Prieto Picudo, although Mencía type of grapes are also used. The Tierra de Léon wine region consists of 36 vineyards (Bodegas), which produce 1.5 millon liter of wine annually.


Sleep[edit][add listing]

Cheap

Medium

  • Hotel Paris, set in Calle Ancha. 100 mts to Cathedral
  • Hotel NH Plaza Mayor. Set in the middle of Barrio Humedo. 300 mts to Cathedral

Luxury

Get out[edit]

In León province:

  • Astorga
  • Las Medulas near Ponferrada, a Roman gold mine resulting in a unique landscape. Frequent ALSA buses run towards Ponferrada (1 hr 40 min, €9.20), and a connecting AUPSA bus runs to Carucedo (30 min, €1.95; 07:10, 12:00, 14:25, and 19:15 on weekdays, 14:00 on Saturdays). Returning buses from Carucedo to Ponferrada run at 07:30, 09:10, 15:00, 18:30 weekdays, 09:20 on Saturdays. From Carucedo to Las Medulas one needs to either hire a taxi or walk uphill for 4 km to the visitors' centre.
  • Villafranca del Bierzo
  • San Miguel de la Escalada, 10th century monastry
  • Sahagún 15th century churches
  • Grajal de Campos: Medieval castle, church and palace
  • Valdevimbre[6]

Outside León province:



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