City of the Legion
One thing I quickly discovered was that I forgot the rich history of Spain. I think this might be because I have lived in relative “new” countries. South Africa only became republic in 1961 and Canada is only 150 years old as a Federation. (Yes, I know that people lived in both countries before European settlers arrived.) Yet, Spain has a rich history that dates back to Roman Legions. And so we have León – the name means Lion in Spanish, but the name comes from the Latin military term for legion.
León started as a military encampment way back in 29 CE. It then developed into a permanent settlement. In 585 the Visigoths took the city, and in 712 Muslims occupied León for the next 138 years. Ordoño I reconquered León, and the city became a safe haven for Mozárabic refugees.
In 1188 León hosted the Parliament in Europe under Alfonso IX. In the years that follow the city became wealthy enough to construct its Gothic cathedral.
City of the Cathedral
I was amazed by the cathedral in León. I saw the most beautiful stained glass windows and architecture. It boggles the mind thinking about the amount of hard work that went into the construction of the cathedral. It is hard to imagine the dedication and commitment it took to construct this house of worship.
The cathedral has 1,800 square meters of stained glass windows. They were beautiful and the pictures do not do them justice. Some of these windows date back to the 13th century and the ‘youngest’ dates back to the 15th century. The cathedral is not the first church, but it is the fourth one the people built on this spot. They started construction around 1205 and construction was finished about 100 years later.
City of Awe
I find it hard to explain what an impact León had on me. I know that some may want to remind me that people have been living in other places too many years ago. And, I get that. Yet, I also believe that all of us have had one of those moments in life when we were awestruck. It might be quite different for different people. And that is great. In León I had this experience. When I stepped into the cathedral a peace came over my soul (which did not happen at every cathedral or church). When I think of the many hands that worked so hard and the many feet that walk so many miles, I cannot help but feel the presence of God surround me.
This blog entry was first written October 6, 2017. It has now been rewritten and the pictures has been updated. To read more abour Dewey’s adventure on the Camino de Santiago click here.