León Cathedral and Barrio Húmedo

Also known as Pulchra Leonina, which means “the beautiful lion”, León Cathedral is one of Spain’s finest. Construction began in the early 13th century and was completed in the 15th century, but the building has great stylistic harmony and an elegance all its own.

It is a Roman Catholic place of workshop and also the episcopal see of the diocese of León. The cathedral is one of the largest and best examples of French Gothic anywhere in Spain. Its floor plan is very similar to that of Reims Cathedral, as it has three naves that become five when they reach the transept, and its vaulting systems closely resemble those of Amiens and Beauvais.

Every detail of this cathedral is full of symbolism. Worshippers would enter on the west side, walk to the north side and finally end up on the south side. That’s why the stained glass windows on the south side, which are lit by direct sunlight, are the ones that depict the New Testament. These windows are comparable to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in their beauty.

Another part of León that must not be missed is what’s known as the Barrio Húmedo (the ‘wet district’) in the historic city centre. This is probably the most popular area in the city and is normally teeming with tourists and locals alike. In the narrow streets around Plaza San Martín and Plaza Mayor there are a multitude of tapas bars, pubs, wine bars and traditional restaurants serving local cuisine. In summer, most of the bars and restaurants set up their tables outside, especially on Plaza Mayor, where there is a great atmosphere.

If you want to visit this area, you can park in the Saba car park at León Train Station on Calle Astorga, which is open 24 hours a day.