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.
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 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.
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.
And so to the West Gate!
This is a fun activity – walking along the walls of Leon and I enjoyed doing it on two occasions!
The Roman and Mediaeval Walls of Leon