We meet our Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago and our Kinder Camino Tours in the city of León. The reason for this is that León is a major highlight on the Camino de Santiago, and it is well communicated with Madrid by high-speed train.
Another reason is that the city boasts what many consider to be Spain’s most perfect example of a Gothic* León Cathedral. There are other great Gothic cathedrals in Spain, such as Burgos and Sevilla. However, none have León’s graceful perfection and unity. Cathedrals in medieval times were not only built over a span of a century or more, but were frequently altered over time to adapt to the city’s needs (congregation size) or the aesthetics of the period. In this manner, cathedrals often present a mishmash of styles that may start in the Middle-Ages and end in the Modern Era. This does not happen in León, with the cathedral presenting an almost perfect 13th century Gothic unity.
However, León Cathedral’s claim to fame is its 1,800 square meters (20,000 square feet) of original medieval stained glass windows. Needless be said that this is a rarity among Gothic cathedrals and a real treat for our Pilgrims.
So, if flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, outstanding artwork, and stained glass windows are your thing, then you will definitely enjoy our guided visit of the cathedral.
Some historical information
Santa María de Regla de León Cathedral is a Catholic church and the Episcopal See of the Diocese of León. It was consecrated under the name of the Virgin Mary. It’s nickname in Latin is Pulchra Leonina (Beautiful Leonese).
The current León cathedral was started in 1205 (13th century) and it replaced the previous Romanesque** cathedral. The Romanesque cathedral in turn replaced the first primitive Christian church built here during the Reconquista, which in turn was built over Roman baths. The cathedral construction was completed at the end of the 15th century. The majority of the stained glass windows date from these centuries.
In 1868 the cathedral underwent major restoration works where several elements that had been added over the centuries were removed to maintain the cathedral’s original Gothic style. During the Spanish Civil War, León was not bombed, thus saving the cathedral and its windows from damage, as it sided with fascist forces at the beginning of the insurrection.
*Gothic art was the main art style in Western Europe between the 13th and 15th centuries.
**Romanesque art was the main style in Western Europe between the 11th and 12th centuries.