I spent a week in Léon and I particularly loved taking my camera and going out on my own. It was fun to be in a city which was bustly but not too crowded. I enjoyed looking at what was happening, or perhaps setting out to find a particular sight. On this day I wanted to visit walls and parks and squares. It was comfortably hot, and busy, but not crowded like the centre of London.
Walls in Leon
Starting from the edge of the Cathedral I walked along the walls which I have described in more detail elsewhere. It was quiet on these streets, even on a weekday. I loved the atmosphere in the Calle las Cercas – it was so exciting to turn a corner and suddenly find myself back in time! It would have been fun to walk this section at night – you can imagine how it would be with the lights, and shadows.
Correos Park in Leon
The walk along the walls leads to a busy interchange on the Av.Lancia where I found the small Correos Park. Trees, shade, and an area for exercising provided a welcome break from the hot sun.
Park of St Francis in Leon
Across the road is the much more substantial Jardin de San Francisco which is apparently the oldest park in the city. In 1818 the Benedictine monks, whose church is still across the road from the park, gave the land to the city and in 1835 it was designated a public area. It was a hot day and people were sitting under the trees, playing cards, talking, or just sitting quietly, alone.
Squares in Leon
I said I wanted to visit walls and parks and squares – now it was time to find squares! I then walked through a break in the walls at the road interchange, the site of one of the Mediaeval Gates, up the Calle San Francisco in search of the Plaza del Grano. At the first little square I found the Convent of the Immaculate Conception. This was originally a palace but the building became a Convent in 1489.
Nossa Senora del Mercado
Turn right down the Calle Herreros, the route of the French Camino, and you find the Iglesia Nossa Señora del Mercado. The church is also known as Santa Maria del Camino and it backs on to the Plaza del Grano. The church was started in the 11C but has been considerably changed over the centuries.
Plaza del Grano
The Plaza del Grano is the mediaeval square where merchants sold their grain. It can be busy and noisy, but it was quiet on this occasion, and calm. A few people were chatting over drinks, and pilgrims drifted through, heading for the Hospederia Monastica, a small hotel within a community of Benedictine Nuns. Currently twenty three nuns live in the community which has stood for over 400 years. The fountain of 1769 in the middle of the square has statues of two children who represent the Bernesga and Torío rivers which meet just south of the city.
Round the corner I found the Plaza Don Gutierrez with the Palace of Don Gutiérre, restored and now the cultural centre of this district – there is something wonderful around every corner here! This is another small square where there were markets in Mediaeval times.
…through the Plaza Mayor, past the Cathedral and San Pedro de las Huertas just outside the Roman East Gate.
A Church at the City Gate
I walked past the church of San Pedro de las Huertas every day. The church, which dates to the 16C, was built on the site of the 10C Monastery of St Peter and St Paul, a religious establishment which accommodated both sexes…
And just a few minutes down the road and I was back to the marvellous AirBnB – a wonderful few hours in a glorious city finding walls and parks and squares!