Day 56 - The city of Leon is a historical and cultural gem. It was a perfect fit for our much needed day off from walking. We took the opportunity to sleep in a little and actually enjoyed making our own coffee in a tiny percolator. The first sight seeing we did was the magnificent cathedral. Built in the 12th century, it was one the prominent cathedral in Europe, featuring the exterior buttresses supporting the giant walls of stained glass. I was impressed with the thematic sequence of windows with the natural light. The front of the cathedral faces east as they all do. The rising sun shines through the nativity family, the southern exposure features the brightness of the gospels and early church. The shadowy northern wall features the prophet’s foreshadowing Christ. The altarpiece is a panel of paintings rather than the gaudy golden building of most altarpieces.
Next we peaked into the Casa Botine Gaudi, which is one the masterpieces of Antonio Guadi of Barcelona Cathedral fame. Then it was off to a museum featuring the original Roman fortress that preceded the city. Interestingly, the name Leon does not come from the king of the beasts, which all of the city’s insignia suggests, but from an adaptation of the’legion’.of the Roman army that settled here before the time of Christ. Some of the ancient wall winds through the modern city.
Since Leon is a favorite rest spot for weary Camino pilgrims, we met several ‘Camino friend’s’ that we hadn’t seen for a while. Chiefly among them was the Australian gang we had met in Pamplona. We had a great dinner with them along with the Canadian couple, Roy and Nicole. We also did some shopping and Esther got new sunglasses and a new pair of shoes. The sandals are not working well on rocky surfaces. Her Hoka shoes which we have been dragging around for five hundred miles will be donated to the pilgrim grab bag at the local hostel. Tomorrow it is back on the trail with backpacks full of clean clothes and fresh legs.