Monday, June 27, 2016
Mansilla de Las Mulas to León
After two days of long walks, we took the bus to León. The symbol of the former kingdom of León (current Spanish province of León) is of course the lion, and no doubt many assume that León has always been the name of this place. In fact, the name was a shortening of the name of one of the Roman legions, which was based here.
León is a lovely city, James’s favorite so far. The cathedral is so beautiful, with more stained glass than any other cathedral in Europe except for Chartres in France. Our photos cannot capture the beauty of that glass, since the brilliant light tends to bleed the color to just white. James Michener writes about the glowing cathedral glass in Iberia. Indeed, the architects of the cathedral stretched the amount of wall given over to glass to the maximum, making an already unstable (due to being built over Roman baths and other pre-existing structures) building even more unstable. A cupola collapsed at one point, and there was real fear that the whole cathedral would tumble down before extensive renovations were carried out.
It is amazing to learn that this whole cathedral was built in just fifty years by a town with a population of only 5,000. Its purity of line was no doubt helped by that rapid building spree. The León Cathedral was built to compete with the Burgos Cathedral, and indeed it does. Both are magnificent, but they are very, very different. As it happens, León is in the middle of celebrating a week of festivities in honor of St. Peter and St. Paul, with many cultural activities around town.
Our hotel is part of St. Isidoro Monastery. We are so lucky to be staying in this historic and gorgeous place. Right after checking in, we and other hotel guests were treated to a tour of the monastery by the hotel manager. After lunch, we headed over to see the cathedral and its museum, then had sangria on the Plaza in front of the cathedral. Spain had a soccer game that evening in the European Cup, and young people draped in Spanish flags were all over the plaza while loud rock music blared out from a party bus. It was really a happening scene, though to walk out from the serenity of the cathedral to rock & roll was a bit jarring.
I posted a photo of us on the American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) webpage, and we received lots of positive feedback from that. Then back to the hotel, where James rested while I went to the Pilgrims’ mass at 7 pm. The quick mass was followed by a Pilgrims’ Blessing. I was asked to translate Father Pascual’s words of welcome and blessing into English, which I did. It was a very beautiful blessing.
I gathered up James and we went to an Italian restaurant for a change of menu. After that, we headed for an outdoor pop concert being given as part of the festival. We stayed until the end, then back to the hotel at midnight. James enjoyed the music.
Steps Today: 13,188
I took many, many photos of León, and I will post a selection. See the page for June 27:
June 27, 2016: Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon