Parador de León - 16th century monastery (5*)
The Parador de León is one of the biggest jewels of the city of León and one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Spain. Construction on the original building began in the 12th century thanks to a donation from the Infanta Doña Sancha, and the building was subsequently enlarged by Fernando el Catolico. The Plateresque façade of this impressive monastery will move you and you will no doubt be drawn to its intricate decoration, with medallions and statues mixed with Xacobean motifs (of Saint James of Santiago) and figures from the classical ages.
The cloister was built between the 16th and 18th century and a hidden library is housed in the upstairs cloister with a balcony, with choir and church views, parts of this dating back to 1537 and 1543. The building has served several different roles in its time, including as a prison, hospital and pilgrim’s hostal, and is a recognised route marker for the Camino de Santiago. It is well worth joining an organised tour to discover the historical significance of the building and its development over the centuries (this can be arranged in the Parador’s reception). Such is its celebrity that the facade of the Parador de Leon is often used as a backdrop for televised news reports and it has featured in several films, most recently 'The Way' with Martin Sheen.
Numerous works of art and decorative elements grace the interior of León’s Parador. These include paintings from the Flemish school, tapestries, sideboards, as well as works by contemporary artists such as Lucio Muñoz, Vela Zanetti, Redondela, Álvaro Delgado, Ochoa, and Vaquero Turcios.
The original monastery building houses the reception, bar, restaurant as well as the superior rooms and suites, affording them a great deal of style and character. Standard rooms are situated in a modern wing alongside, affording them space and modern comforts.
- Ask for a garden view.
- Walk down Los Cubos to the side of the cathedral to see the restored old city wall.
- Enjoy tapas in the Romántico or Húmedo districts (often offered for free if you order a drink).