Miles to Santiago: 312km \ 194mi
After several days of very small towns, we enter one of the largest cities on the Camino, León.
León is a big site for tourism for native Spaniards and for outsiders. There's significant historical and architectural heritage. There are numerous festivals hosted throughout the year (especially Holy Week). And, of course, it's a major stop on the Camino. León is the capital of its province, located in the northwest of Spain. Its city population is more than 127,000.
It was founded as a Roman military encampment around 29 BC. The town grew slowly but steadily and was deeply involved in the Reconquesta.
After a period of stagnation during the early modern age, it was one of the first cities to hold an uprising in the Spanish War of Independence, and, in 1833, acquired the status of provincial capital. The end of the 19th and the 20th century saw significant growth and expansion thanks to coal mining and the arrival of the railroad.
Santa Maria de Leon Cathedral is also called The House of Light or the Pulchra Leonina. Almost all of it built between 1205 - 1301, the north tower and cloister were built in 14th-century, and the south tower completed in 1472. Apparently, it was built on the site of a Roman thermal bath... see photo below
Basílica de San Isidoro de León was also built on top of a Roman site - this time an ancient Roman temple. In 1063, the basilica was rededicated to Saint Isidore of Seville.
Casa Botines was designed by Antoni Gaudí who is known primarily for his work in Barcelona. This spectacular design is one of only three buildings Gaudí built elsewhere.