León*Spain*

First, I would proudly like to present and to welcome the 9th country of this blog, beautiful Spain!

I would like to start with a quote. Frommer’s described León as “an excellent place to experience the tranquility of the Spanish heartland, as well as an obligatory stop for students of medieval architecture.

The city is situated on the North-Western part of  Spain and is the capital of the province of León, being part of the autonomous community of Castille and Leon. It is a very popular destination among tourists, due to its location on the Camino de Santiago and also to its historical importance and impressive built heritage.

If you’re travelling from the other side of the country, you can do so by plane, landing at León Airport. The airport has mostly national flights, but if you’re lucky you can find some international ones also. If you come from further away and haven’t found a flight to the city from your own, you can fly to Madrid Barajas Airport, and for about 20-40 Euros, travel by bus or train afterwards. The bus and train network is very well developed in Spain and can be really fast (for a few extra Euros, you can travel by express). Other airports close by are Valladolid Airport and Asturias Airport.

I’d advise getting around on foot! Even if you only stay in town for a day, the main sights are very close to one another. Especially if the weather’s good, taking a car or a bus is a crime, because every one of the buildings you pass by has a special spark, completely enchanting the unaware tourist.

Staying in can be a very good idea if you want to experience León in its smallest detail and maybe visit the surrounding towns as well. You can choose from a variety of extravagant hotels to B&B’s and hostels. The thing I liked the most- although I wasn’t spending the night in the city, just found out recently- that there are more than 10 camping places with tents and/or bungalows all you nature lovers can choose from! When I’m going back, I’ll definitely try one out.

When it comes to cuisine, Spanish people (in general) eat a lot of meat with very little or no bread/salad/rice/potato next to it. It was a very strange thing for me at first, because here at home we usually eat our meat with some kind of garnish on the side. Some local traditional dishes are: morcilla (blood sausage), cordero asado (roast lamb), cochinillo asado (roast pig), empanadas (fish/meat pies), riano (vegetable mix), cocido maragato (bean stew) and tapas, which in León is usually served next to your drink for free, whereas in other cities you have to pay for it separately.

As for the main sights of the city, prepare to be amazed! Of course there are a million things to see here, but I’m only going to give you a taste of it. Being a mixture of old and new, León takes us on a journey from millennial buildings to modern art, all with a little Spanish twist! I was literally awestruck by the Santa Maria de Regla Cathedral when I first saw it. The beautiful Gothic cathedral with its robust self and amazing detail is set to intimidate you and create a brand new picture of churches from that era. The Real Basilica de San Isidoro is a thousand-year old church and a heaven for art history students and lovers. Plaza Mayor– the main square- is a must-see! Hostal San Marcos is one of the city’s jewels and served as shelter for the pilgrims of the Santiago way. Throughout history it was transformed into a monastery, then a prison and afterwards into army barracks, but today it’s one of the country’s most impressive hotels. Another fascinating tourist attraction is Casa de Botines, designed by the world-famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi.  It’s probably one of my favorite buildings, because it looks very much like a castle from a fairy tale, but with Gaudi’s touch, it is very unique and extremely beautiful. Last but not least, I’d advise you to visit a very modern building- MUSAC- the Museum of Contemporary Arts, which with it’s painted windows offers a wonderful sight both from inside and out.

That’s all about León for today – stay tuned for some pictures of this incredible city! Hope I’ve managed to build up an appetite for you to get up and going!

If you liked the post, get the GPS-guided tour of Leon at this link!

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