When we were booking for northern Spain, we were a little rushed as we had a wedding to go to at the end of August in the UK, we found cheap flights out of Bilbao so had to pick a few places on route, we umm’d and arr’d between Leon and Oviedo, in the end we did pick Oviedo, mainly because the train to Bilbao looked better. 2 weeks before our trip to Oviedo our Airbnb host cancelled on us, basically he had some leaking in the apartment and his insurance company said not to rent out so we would be on the streets, we had a look on Airbnb (who gave us a NZD$38 credit as partial compensation) again and found a few places in Leon, had another look on google and decided ok this was meant to be.
So we had 5 nights in Leon, it is a small place, but has a great feel, the main streets are wide, and there are several lovely fountains in the main intersections, there are still the narrow alleyways you expect in a Spanish city but they all quickly lead to large open squares. the streets and alleys are filled with bars, restaurants, cafe’s and ice cream shops, I loved our first walk through the main street, going past an unusual turreted building designed by Antoni Gaudí, we had read that there was a Gaudi building in Leon, when you see it though it is actually quite under stated for a Gaudi design but definitely still eye catching.
The Casa de los Botines
Carry on walking through the busy streets you see a large opening as you get to the corner you come face to face with the huge Leon Cathedral, it’s clean, it almost looks new, as you walk around admiring it you see all the layers, all the details, the top looks like it’s made of lace, it’s a very beautiful building. We had the perfect weather, blue skies with dramatic interesting clouds, I loved taking photos here, the cathedral couldn’t have looked more stunning.
Leon Cathedral took over three centuries to complete, construction began in the 13th century, under the command of the Master architect Enrique and was not fully completed until the 19th century.
Top Tip – Leon Cathedral is lit up at night until midnight exactly, so don’t leave it till the last minute of the day to walk around the corner just as the lights switch off, as we did 😦 Apparently the stained glass windows look almost as good from outside at night as they do from inside in daylight, we shall have to return one day to see for ourselves…
Inside The CATHEDRAL
Well I wasn’t expecting to be as blown away as I was, this Cathedral made you walk around with your mouth open, its stain glass windows are among the most impressive in the world and with the colour pouring in, it’s incredible.
There are 125 medieval stained glass windows that illuminate a French Gothic interior with three aisles, there are a total of 737 windows, including three large rose windows, which occupy a space of about 1800 square meters of glass. it, just purely stunning, breath taking, I think between us we took over a thousand photos 🙂 and thats not an exaggeration. Now I know why this cathedral gets it’s name `The House of Light’.
Convent of San Marcos
The Convent of San Marcos was used as a hospital to attend to pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, the headquarters of the Veterinary School, a school for the Society of Jesus, Cavalry Barracks and even a prison.
This impressive building is now a luxury parador hotel, would so loved to have stayed here for one night, maybe next time :), the square court yard is surrounded by arches, each with it’s own sculpture, the ceiling is so detailed, this courtyard would be the perfect place just to sit and read.
The stairs to the hotel are only for the hotel guests, but it made me feel like I really was missing out, I so wanted to climb those stairs..
Roman bridge over the Bernesga River in León
Park along the river
We haven’t thought much of the last few tourist trains, but it’s still a relatively cheap option to be shown the sights and to get your bearings, and the kids love it, Lucas because it’s a train and Jacob because he can chill for 45mins.
I actually thought the tourist train in Leon was pretty good, showed you all the great sights without showing you too many of the streets you don’t need to see. It also stopped and allowed you to take photos. So for the 4Euros for Adults and 3.50 for kids I would say go for it :).
The Apartment in Leon was large, again had 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living and dining area and good size kitchen. This apartment is normally rented out to teachers and will be again come Sept. We loved staying here, Isa was a perfect friendly host, her and her father gave us lots of information on arrival about Leon. We have been spoilt with the amazing cathedrals we have visited and Leon’s cathedral doesn’t disappoint. It is truly beautiful.
Cost $467 NZD for 5 nights stay