The Walls of Leon

Léon was founded by the Roman legion Legio VI Victrix in 1C but the walls around the ‘historic centre’ of Léon date from both Roman and Mediaeval times. It was fun to walk around the city, looking for the walls of Leon, and I did this more than once!

The Roman walls

The oldest section that remains of the walls was built by Legio VII Gemina at the end of 1C and is visible at the Arco de la Cárcel. In 3C another wall was built in front of the first wall and can be seen everywhere. The Roman walls are c.17′ thick and c.26′ high, with semi-circular towers at regular intervals.

The walls around the historic centre of Leon
The walls around the historic centre of Leon

I walked round the walls starting from what used to be the East Gate, next to the Cathedral, in an anti-clockwise direction round to the former West Gate at the bottom of the Calle Ancha. This section seemed to me to follow most closely the walls of the Roman settlement. A small display in a ‘crypt’ next to the Cathedral shows the shape and foundation of the the original East Gate. We also visited The Roman Museum, next to the Puerto Castillo, which has a lot of interesting information, including fascinating photographs of Léon at the beginning of the 1900s.

The remains of the Mediaeval Gate (on the site of the Roman Gate) in 1910 (photograph in The Roman Museum, Leon)
The site of the former East Gate today
The Roman walls on the Av los Cubos
The Roman walls and the semi-circular towers on the Av los Cubos
Photograph of the same street at the end of the 19C (in the Roman Museum, Leon)
Photograph of the same street at the end of the 19C (in the Roman Museum, Leon)
The walls of Leon
The walls along the Calle Carreras
The Arco de la Carcel at the end of the Calle Carreras
The Arco de la Carcel (Puerto Castillo) at the end of the Calle Carreras, reconstructed in mid 18C
The walls of Leon
On top of the wall in the Roman museum, next to the Puerto Castillo
The wall in the Park del Cid
The wall in the Park del Cid
The top of the wall in the Park del Cid, looking towards the Tower of San Isidoro
The break in the wall at the end of Park del Cid
The position of the Roman West Gate at the bottom of the Calle Ancha
The position of the Roman West Gate at the bottom of the Calle Ancha

The Mediaeval walls

Then I walked round the walls in the other direction, clockwise, from the East Gate round to the West Gate! These walls include Mediaeval walls which is why the outline I have given above is not rectangular in the bottom half. There were apparently nine gates in these walls but it is not clear to me exactly where they were on the map. I have tried to identify the locations from street names.

Tower of Ponce, and site of the East Gate into the town, next to the Cathedral
Looking down the Calle Serradores
Looking down the Calle Serradores
In the Calle Cano de Bodilla - The walls of Leon
In the Calle Cano de Bodilla, where there used to be a gate into the town; just below the Plaza Mayor
Notice board at the Puerto Moneda, showing the Roman Walls, and the later Mediaeval Walls
Notice board at the Puerto Moneda, showing the Roman Walls, and the later Mediaeval Walls

The Mediaeval Walls were built in the 14C and are outside the Roman Walls on the south and west of the town. These walls look different from the Roman walls because there is a lower wall (a bulwark), a walkway, and then the actual, higher wall.

The walls of Leon
The start of the Calle las Cercas – the Mediaeval ‘Fence’
The Calle de las Cercas - The walls of Leon
The Calle las Cercas
The walls of Leon - Looking back along the Calle de los Cercas from the Puerto Moneda
Looking back along the Calle las Cercas from the Puerto Moneda
The Puerto Moneda
The Puerto Moneda
The walls of Leon - The continuation of Calle las Cercas after the Puerto Moneda
The continuation of Calle las Cercas after the Puerto Moneda
The walls of Leon along the Av Independencia
The walls along the Av Independencia

And so to the West Gate!

The position of the former West Gate at the bottom of the Calle Ancha

This is a fun activity – walking along the walls of Leon and I enjoyed doing it on two occasions!

Further information
The Roman and Mediaeval Walls of Leon