Top Historic Sights in León, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of León

León Cathedral

León Cathedral was built on the site of previous Roman baths of the 2nd century. During the Christian reconquest the ancient Roman baths were converted into a royal palace. King Ordoño II, who had occupied the throne of Leon in 916, defeated the Arabs in the Battle of San Esteban de Gormaz in 917. As a sign of gratitude to God for victory, he gave up his palace to build the first cathedral. Under the episcopate ...
Founded: c. 1205 | Location: León, Spain

Guzmanes Palace

The current headquarters of the the provincial government is one of the most beautiful palaces in the León. The Palacio de los Guzmanes construction took place between 1559 and 1572 in the lands where the old city wall used to stand. The construction work was never finished and the palace deteriorated until i tended up abandoned. In 1882 it was purchased by the provincial government  for its recovery, and since then, a ...
Founded: 1559-1572 | Location: León, Spain

Casa Botines

The Casa Botines (built 1891-1892) is a Modernist building in León, designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was adapted to serve as the headquarters of Caja España, a local savings bank. While Gaudí was finishing the construction of the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, his friend and patron, Eusebi Güell recommended that he build a house in the center of León. Simón Fernández and Mariano Andrés, the owners of a com ...
Founded: 1891-1892 | Location: León, Spain

Basílica de San Isidoro

The Basílica de San Isidoro de León is located on the site of an ancient Roman temple. Its Christian roots can be traced back to the early 10th century when a monastery for Saint John the Baptist was erected on the grounds. The original church was built in the pre-Arab period. Following the conquest of the area by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (938-1002), the first church was destroyed and the area devastated. León was ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: León, Spain

Convento de San Marcos

The Convento de San Marcos is today an operating luxury parador hotel. It also contains a consecrated church and museum, and is one of the most important monuments of the Renaissance in Spain. It is one of the greatest architectural jewels of León. It has a highly ornamental plateresque facade. The origins of this building lie in the twelfth century, in the days of Alfonso VII of León. His sister, the Infanta Sa ...
Founded: 1514 | Location: León, Spain

Walls of León

The walls that can be seen today in León were built between the 3rd and 4th century by the Romans. The medieval wall that extends to the south is an addition built by King Alfonso VI at the end of the 14th century.
Founded: 200-300 AD | Location: León, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.