Why visit León?
León is one of the hidden gems of Spain. It has possibly the best cathedral in the whole of the country, it has a bucket-load of monuments, a large student population and to top it all off a free tapa with every drink you order. By day, it is a curious mixture of catholic reverence, given its status as an important stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, and monumental architecture. By night, students take over the wonderfully vibrant Barrio Húmedo and party long into the night. It is a breathtaking mix.
León: the facts
León, the capital and largest city of the León province, was founded as a Roman military encampment, and has been occupied by humans for over two thousand years. Following the fall of Rome, the newly founded Kingdom of León managed to fight off Visigoth raiders until capitulating in 586 A.D. Soon after the city was enveloped in the Muslim invasions of the Peninsula, swapping hands between Muslim and Christian rulers until the latter’s eventual victory.
The city was one of the most important in medieval Spain and hosted the first Parliament in European history in 1188. The decline of León during the early middle ages, after the union of León with the Castillian crown, was arrested in the 19th century, when León became an important communications hub for the transportation of coal. During the Spanish Civil War the city fell almost immediately to the nationalist coup and remained in its hand for the duration of the conflict.
León has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, in which summers are very hot and dry, with temperatures between 21°C – 35°C. However, temperatures are known to reach over 35°C in the city.
In winter, temperatures can range −1°C – 13°C. Snow is not uncommon (16 days a year) but it is rarely heavy snow. During spring, temperatures average between 10°C – 25°C . The city enjoys considerable amount of sunshine throughout the year.
At present, León is undergoing a industrial sector revival, boasted by the new built León airport, although the longer term ‘brain drain’ has greatly affected the city as its youngest and brightest leave in search of employment. Tourism is a major factor in the city’s economy as an estimated 600,000 people visit the city every year.
The Leonese love to party as is demonstrated in Barrio Humedo, the bar district. which is full every day of the week. However, León is also famed for its Easter processions that take place during the week preceding the Christian festival (Semana Santa). At the end of June, the city becomes a riot of noise fuelled by alcohol for the Festivities of San Juan and San Pedro in which parades, music and events are held and the streets are packed with street hawkers.
written by: Jon
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