Art in the province of León

The capital of León boasts the presence of the Basilica of San Isidoro, built in the Romanesque style in the times of Fernando I in order to house the relics of Saint Isidore. Considered unique among Romanesque works, of especial note are the 12th century mural paintings covering the vaulted ceilings, regarded as the “Sistine Chapel” of the Romanesque period. sanisidoroleonAlso worthy of special mention are the capitals, the cloisters and the Royal Pantheon, where some of the monarchs who were responsible for the fame of León are laid to rest. Close to the Basilica, remains of the Imperial Palace of Alfonso VII and Queen Berengaria can be found in what is now the playground of a school run by Teresian Carmelite nuns, of more historical than artistic value and, given its location, frequently overlooked. The Plaza del Grano is one of the most emblematic squares of León, its cobbles and arcaded buildings lending it a mediaeval air. The church of Santa María del Mercado, contemporary with the Basilica, is located within the same square, and these two churches comprise the only remaining Romanesque style buildings in the city.

santirsosahagunArt in the province of León is marked by a prolific number of churches of great architectural value. Found in and around Sahagún, Romanesque-Mudéjar art has left behind buildings of the stature of San Tirso, from the beginning of the 12th century, or San Lorenzo, from the beginning of the 13th century. Also of importance is the 13th century Monastery of San Pedro de Dueñas, a construction in which brick and stone coexist in perfect harmony.

Many monasteries and convents are located around the confluence of the Esla and Porma Rivers, some of them outstanding examples of their kind, such as the now vanished monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza which in its day was only surpassed in importance by the Facundus Monastery. Monastic life in the area has left behind buildings of the stature of the monastery of Santa María, built towards the end of the 12th century, in Villaverde de Sandoval, the lauded monastery of San Miguel de Escalada, built along Mozarab lines towards the end of the 9th century on the site of a Visigoth church, or the convent of Santa María de Gradefes, on which building was begun in 1177. To the south of the Santa María de Gradefes convent, and on the Saint James’ Way, is the town of Mansilla de las Mulas, which boasts magnificent city walls and architecture along mediaeval lines.


santamariacarracedoThe region known as “La Tebaida leonesa”, in Bierzo, was another area with a high concentration of monasteries. The monastery of San Pedro de Montes, dating from the 7th century, was restored by Saint Genadius in the 9th century and by the 11th century had become an important religious centre. A church dating from the beginnings of the 10th century is located in Peñalba de Santiago, and displays an impressive door along Mozarab lines. Close by in Compludo is the forge of the same name, built in the shelter of the now vanished monastery of Compludo which was founded in the 7th century. Continuing in the region of Bierzo, another Romanesque jewel should be mentioned, the monastery of Santa María de Carracedo dating from the end of the 10th century. Meanwhile, the streets of Villafranca del Bierzo, the ancient capital of the Bierzo region, are a patent reminder of the town’s mediaeval past.



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Coronación Aldefonsus Imperator. Plaza de la Regla. León San Pedro de la Nave San Isidoro. Claustro. León Indumentaria medieval. Carnicerías. León Monasterio de Santa Maria de Sandoval. Villaverde de Sandoval Basilica de San Isidoro. León Panorámica. Toro Monasterio de San Pedro de Eslonza. Santa Olaja de Eslonza Castillo. San Esteban de Gormaz. Burgos Ramiro II. San Marcelo. León