León’s 13th-century cathedral, with its soaring towers, flying buttresses and breathtaking interior, is the city’s spiritual heart. Whether spotlit by night or bathed in glorious northern sunshine, the cathedral, arguably Spain’s premier Gothic masterpiece, exudes a glorious, almost luminous quality. The show-stopping facade has a radiant rose window, three richly sculpted doorways and two muscular towers. The main entrance is lorded over by a scene of the Last Supper, while an extraordinary gallery of vidrieras (stained-glass windows) awaits you inside.
French in inspiration and mainly executed from the 13th to the 16th centuries, the windows’ kaleidoscope of coloured light is breathtaking. There seems to be more glass than brick here – 128 windows with a surface of 1800 sq metres in all – but mere numbers cannot convey the ethereal quality of light permeating this cathedral.
Other treasures include a silver urn by Enrique de Arfe on the altar, containing the remains of San Froilán, León’s patron saint. Also note the magnificent choir stalls.
Combine your time in the cathedral with a visit to the Claustro and Museo Catedralicio-Diocesano, just around the corner. In the peaceful, light-filled claustro (cloisters), 15th-century frescos provide a perfect complement to the main sanctuary, while the museum has an impressive collection encompassing works by Juní and Gaspar Becerra, alongside a precious assemblage of early Romanesque carved statues of the Virgin Mary.