Apr 20. Day 25. 0 km because our bodies deserved it, and it prolongs our Camino!
Our 4th rest day. Leon is bigger than Burgos, and is possibly the 3rd largest, after Madrid and Pamplona. The conveniences available can be a boon especially if one is in need of specific medication, gear, etc. to continue one’s Camino.
However, the transition from a rural setting to a big city can jar or sidetrack one’s Camino ‘momentum’. Cities have distractions and temptations. You know yourself best. Use “guard trails” like in the bowling lanes to keep focused on the motivations that brought you to the Camino in the first place.We love the history, culture, artistic beauty that’s so richly manifested in many cultures. The works and passions of these artists, builders, sculptors, craft people etc. does move one’s spirit.
Our morning started with a 10am tour at the Basilica de San Isidoro with its Royal Mausoleum (aka Pantheon de los Reyes). Latter has a ‘Romanesque Sistine Chapel’ murals which really is a must-see as it’s original, never restored. The tour covers the library with 200 ancient manuscripts, with a 10th century Bible. There’s a 1st century chalice that may have healing capabilities. There are extraordinary carved ivory, wooden boxes and chests. Unfortunately, there’s no picture taking in the museum tour, but we bought some postcards.
The Leon Cathedral was our next stop just after 11am. This Cathedral is famed for the number of 125 stained windows, bringing tremendous light inside. The Gothic vaults design allowed for that as earlier cathedrals walls were all stone to hold the weight (consider the stained windows would eventually shatter if the weight borne had shifted). The audio guide is quite comprehensive.
We wandered around the Barrio Humedo, the Sat open market in Plaza Mayor, people watched in Plaza San Martin. Picking up cues of the local culture is both interesting and challenging (when on the receiving end!).
We had lunch and subsequently, met up with a Malaysian, Vivian, whom Joon had befriended on FB. Vivian chanced to be in Leon today before starting her own Camino in Sarria later in April. She generously gave us some cookies bought in Burgos.
Basilica de San Isidoro. Love the wide open pedestrian friendly squares. Shouldn’t all cities have this?
The Basilica‘s main altar.
The vaulted ceilings at the rear.
Illustration of the Nativity in a song sheet.
Chalice donated by Princess Donna Urraca, daughter of one of the Leon Kings.
The Romanesque Sistine Chapel’s ceiling murals traces the Life and Resurrection of Christ. It’s in a chamber that the Leon Kings had prepared for their burial sarcophagi.Angels announcing Christ’s birth to the shepherds. Note the range of animals depicted
The Last Supper.
Facade of Leon Cathedral.
View of part of Cathedral from the Cloisters.
Chapel accessible from Cloisters. The altar sculpture was in a vision.
Main altar of Leon Cathedral. The 5 largest panels are the remnants of a much larger set. Smaller panels came from other churches.
Stained windows above the main altar.
One of the stained windows just above eye level.
Rose window at side of Cathedral.
Unique statue of the Virgin Mary, who is depicted as pregnant with Jesus.
There was much to take in at the Cathedral. Above pictures are just a small sample of the grandeur.
Market at Plaza Mayor (Saturday).
Why aren’t balloons like these sold in USA? The kids will go crazy!
A flea market.
Love how the locals will just stand, have their drinks and tapas, and just chat. Sometimes, the alleyways are chock blocked with people standing with their drinks!
The third major must-see was the Convento de San Marcos, a church and museum. Parts of the old convent are being refurbished as a luxury hotel. This has happened in other towns and cities.
Panaramic photo of the Convento
Along a window frame.
It was a well spent day that we were happy with.