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PARADOR in LEON, a marvel of Spanish Plateresque

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The Parador de León is located in one of the most emblematic buildings of the Castilian city: the convent of san marco. Located on the edges of Bernesga RiverIts origins date back to the 12th century, when an inn was built to accommodate pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

However, the building we know today was built in the 16th century on the ruins of the previous one and thanks to a donation from Ferdinand the Catholic. In any case, if you stay at the Parador de León, you will enjoy one of the Spanish plateresque jewelry. If you want to know a little more about this architectural marvel, we encourage you to read on.

A bit of history about the Parador de León

As we said, the convent of San Marcos was designed thanks to a donation from Fernando de Aragón. However, work did not begin until the reign of Charles I. To undertake construction, three architects were hired: Martin de Villarrealwho would take care of the facade; Juan de Orozcowho would work in the church, and John of Badajoz the Youngerwhich would project the sacristy and the cloister.

The construction of the Convent of San Marcos lasted more than a hundred years and was completed around 1679. However, already in the 18th century, a significant extension of the building was carried out, which harmoniously integrated with the rest of the construction.

Cloister of the Convent of San Marcos

Cloister of the Parador de León

Main parts of the Parador de León

The Convent of San Marcos is an architectural gem. As mentioned, it is considered one of the most important buildings of the Spanish Renaissance and also a marvel of the Plateresque. To describe it to you, it is best if we distinguish its parts.

The facade

It is precisely in it that you can see most of the plateresque features of the building. The pilasters, the comb that culminates the cover and other elements belong to this style. It is a facade of a single canvas with two floors that end in Crete. The first has semicircular windows, while the second has balconies and balustraded columns.

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The base is decorated with medallions representing characters from Greco-Latin antiquity as well as other symbols of Spanish history. For its part, the tower of the palace includes a cross of Santiago and a lion.

As for the cover, it is truly spectacular. It consists of two bodies and its large semicircular arch and its exalted key representing Saint Mark. Its opening is baroque and includes the coat of arms of Santiago and that of lion kingdom.


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the cloister

It consists of four sections. Two of them were built in the 16th century by the work, as we said, of John of Badajoz the Younger. However, you can also see a bas-relief due to the famous Franco-Spanish sculptor Juan de Juni which represents a birth. For its part, the other two sections were built in the 17th and 18th centuries.

St. Mark's Church

Church of San Marco

the church

Finally, the church forms the third part of the Parador de León. It responds to Hispanic Late Gothic, also called Style of the Catholic Monarchs. Its construction was completed in 1541, as evidenced by the inscription that can be seen in a niche of the facade.

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The facade of the temple has a large ribbed vault flanked by two towers. You can also see there two reliefs also due to Juan de Juniwhich represent Calvary and the Descent.

For its part, the interior has a wide nave crossed by a transept with railings. In its main altarpiece, the Annunciation and the Apostolate stand out, both from the 18th century. But you should also pay attention to the choirmainly the work of Juni, although its lower part is due to Guillaume Doncel.

The part intended for the Parador de León

Although it does not have as much artistic importance as the previous sections, the one dedicated to the rooms of the Parador de León also has attractions to offer you. Among them stand out the collection of tapestries, antique furniture and wood carvings. But, above all, the pictorial works which adorn the building and which are due to authors such as Lucio Munoz, Joaquin Vaquero Turcios That is Alvaro Delgado Ramos.

Interior of the Convent of San Marcos

Interior of the Leon Inn

Uses of the Convent of San Marcos

Currently, the Convent of San Marcos is, as we told you, the Parador de León. However, historically it has had many other uses. Originally it was built as pilgrims hospital who did the Camino de Santiago.

But, unfortunately, one of the most repeated uses of the convent has been that of jail. The great writer spent four years in prison. Francois de Quevedo by order of the mighty Count-Duke of Olivares. Much later, during the Civil War, it served as a concentration camp for Republican prisoners.

In short, the other uses that were given to the current Parador de León were those of the house of the mission of the Society of Jesus, the general staff of the army, a prison hospital, d an educational institute and even a veterinary school.


In 1875, the town hall of León wanted to demolish it, which would have been a real tragedy for the Spanish artistic heritage. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and he didn’t.

How to get to the Parador de León

If you are traveling to the Castilian city, we highly recommend staying at this Plateresque marvel. Once in León and to get to the parador, the first thing to know is that it is on the St. Mark’s Squarenext to the homonymous bridge.

The facade of the Convent of San Marcos

Facade of the Parador de León

If you come from the north, you will arrive in the city by the A-66. You have to leave it in the Virgin of the Way and take it N-120. Once in the city, the avenue of doctor Fleming and the avenue of the veterinary faculty will lead you to the parador.

On the other hand, if you are coming from the south, east or west, you will probably arrive in the city at LE-30 and the THE 20. In this case, simply follow Avenida de Europa and then Avenida de la veterinary school to get to San Marcos.

In conclusion, the Parador de León or Convent of San Marcos It is a marvel of Spanish Plateresque and one of the symbols of the Castilian city. It is a construction with as much tradition as history in which you will feel transported to other times. You don’t want to meet him?

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