I loved walking the streets and walls of the old city of Léon and wanted to see, briefly some of the contemporary architecture. Sadly the Museum of Contemporary Art was closed for renovation but we could at least enjoy the exterior; there was a service in the Church of San Marcos so photography, or even wandering about, was not appropriate; and the Parador of San Marcos is currently closed for renovation so it was very much a ‘walk past old and new’!
The Junta is the Administrative Headquarters for Castile and Léon but I can’t find any information about the architect, but it is an impressive building, particularly after the Roman walls and old buildings within those walls.
The blue building which is near to the Junta is the Edificio Europa which dates from 1998 and was designed by José Alvarez Guerra, José Mª Ruiz Sanz and Luis Diego but again I can’t find any further information apart from the fact that it is offices!
The Museum of Contemporary Art was designed by architects Emilio Tuñón and Luis Moreno and apparently inspired by the stained glass windows in Léon Cathedral. The building won the 2007 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.
And round the corner and alongside the River Bernesga is the Parador, the Convento de San Marcos, a luxury hotel today which also includes a consecrated church and a museum. In the 12C the first hostel to house pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago was built on this site, but by the 16C it was in disrepair and rebuilding began. The monastery was also the headquarters of the Military Order of St James and included stables, gardens, storehouses, cells – a city in miniature. The Spanish Civil War was an inglorious time for the building as it was used as a prison – apparently up to 20,000 people were imprisoned here, and hundreds died in the cells and dungeons.
The Camino continues over the bridge alongside the Parador, past the Quevedo Park, and onwards to Astorga. The park is named after the poet Francisco de Quevedo who was imprisoned in the Convento San Marcos in 1639
We walked along the Paseo Bernesga and then visited the Quevedo Park across the river which is alongside the continuation of the Camino and which can be accessed by the Roman Bridge. Sadly I made a mistake with the camera and blurred my photographs – only one could be rescued from this lovely place for strolling.
And after all that it was time for a cup of coffee – and tortilla!
I loved Léon!
The Convent of San Marcos