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327km (203 miles) NW of Madrid, 196km (122 miles) N of Salamanca

Once the leading city of Christian Spain, this cathedral town was the capital of a centuries-old empire that declined after uniting with Castile. León today is the gateway from Old Castile to the northwestern routes of Galicia. It is a sprawling city, but nearly everything of interest to visitors -- monuments, restaurants, and hotels -- can be covered on foot once you arm yourself with a good map.

Once the heartbeat of a great kingdom, León today is a sleepy provincial city off the beaten track. But its wealth of old monuments, its top-notch accommodations, and a certain regal atmosphere make the town still feel like a capital.

Outlying mountain villages offer their own architectural gems, fine ski runs, and tasty concoctions of local trout and meat. Also, the region is particularly renowned for its soft-spoken, pristine Castilian accent. In sum, León is an excellent place to experience the tranquillity of the Spanish heartland, as well as an obligatory stop for students of medieval architecture.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.