According to Computer Do, 50 km southwest of León is the ancient city of Astorga. It is located at the intersection of two important historical routes: the pilgrimage Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago), which leads to the tomb of the Apostle James, located in the far north of the kingdom in the city of Santiago de Campostela, and the “Silver Way” – the ancient Roman road linking southern and northern parts of Spain. The city was founded by Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar in 14 BC. and was named Asturicia-Augusta. Since that time, Astorga has preserved the remains of a palace with floor mosaics, a forum, a temple, as well as fragments of walls, baths, sewers and underground tunnels. All this can be seen during the tour “Ruta-Romana”, which lasts about 1.5 hours. You can also learn about the stay of the Romans on the territory of Astorga by visiting the Roman Museum. Of the later city buildings, the Cathedral stands out, which began to be built in the 15th century. The construction continued for 3 centuries, therefore, in the current appearance of the cathedral, various architectural styles can be traced: Gothic spiers, a Baroque portal, a Renaissance bell tower and a plateresque south facade. The interior of the cathedral is made in the Gothic style. Of greatest interest is the 16th century altarpiece by Gaspard Becerra. A museum has been opened at the cathedral, where you can see works of pre-Romanesque and Romanesque religious art. Nearby is the Bishop’s Palace, which was built in the 19th century by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi on the site of the burnt episcopal palace. The neo-Gothic palace is made of gray granite in the form of a castle. Here is the Pilgrimage Museum, which tells about the history of the development of the city, inextricably linked with the pilgrimage Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago). The museum displays artifacts from the Roman period, paintings and sculptures by medieval masters. The palace complex also includes a chapel, the interior of which is decorated with frescoes, mosaics and stained-glass windows. On the city’s main square, Plaza Mayor, stands the 17th-century baroque building of the City Administration with three towers, one of which is crowned with a bell. Also in Astorga it is worth visiting the Chocolate Museum. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, after Spain began to import cocoa beans from the New World, Astorga was one of the largest centers for the production of chocolate in the country. The museum displays old equipment used in production, as well as a collection of packaging. Ponferrada is located 60 km northwest of Astorga. It is located in the El Bierzo Valley, surrounded by the Cantabrian Mountains. Just like many other cities in the province of León, it owes its development to the pilgrimage Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago). In 1178, King Ferdinand II gave a small settlement under the guardianship of the knights of the Knights Templar in order for them to guard pilgrims going to the tomb of the Apostle James. It was the Templars who built an impregnable castle here, which has survived to this day. The castle occupies the central part of the Old Town with an area of about 16 thousand square meters. m. It is surrounded by a deep moat, through which a stone bridge is laid. The entrance to the castle is made in the form of an arch, on both sides of which towers rise. Several halls of the castle are open for tourists. Every year in July, the castle hosts the Night of the Templars festival, during which visitors can learn about the knights and the way of life here in the 14th century. Nearby on one of the narrow streets of the city stands the Clock Tower. It crowns the ancient city gates. The tower was erected in the 16th century under King Charles I. On the same street, in the building of a former prison, there is the El Bierzo Museum, which tells about the history of the region, starting from the Paleolithic times. Nearby on the Plaza de la Encina is the main church of the city – the Basilica de la Encina. It was erected at the end of the 16th century in the Renaissance style in honor of the patron saint of these places. At the beginning of the 17th century a baroque tower was added to the church. It was erected at the end of the 16th century in the Renaissance style in honor of the patron saint of these places. At the beginning of the 17th century a baroque tower was added to the church. It was erected at the end of the 16th century in the Renaissance style in honor of the patron saint of these places. At the beginning of the 17th century a baroque tower was added to the church.
The main attraction of the surroundings of Ponferrada is the Roman gold mine of Las Medulas (Las Medulas). It is located near the town of the same name, 20 km southwest of Ponferrada. The Las Medulas mine was mined by the Romans from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. and was one of the main gold mining areas of the Roman Empire. In total, about a million kilograms of gold were mined here. A whole army of slaves cut channels and tunnels in the local rocks, some reaching a length of 40 km. Then the channels and tunnels were filled with water, after which gold was mined. As a result of this method of mining, subsidence of rocks occurred. Today, tourists arriving in Las Medulas are presented with a mesmerizing landscape of orange cliffs framing depressions overgrown with trees and cave galleries. The remains of Asturian settlements have been preserved near the mine, who mined gold here even before the arrival of the Romans. An archaeological center has been opened in Las Medulas, which tells about the history of gold mining in these places. Not far from the town there is an observation deck with a beautiful view of the mine.
In the north of the province of León, the Cantabrian mountains stretch. Here, on the border with the province of Asturias, there are two ski resorts San Isidro (one of the most popular ski resorts in the Cantabrian Mountains) and Leitariegos and Picos de Europa National Park.
Picos de Europa National Park – Spain ‘s first national park, it was created at the beginning of the 20th century. The park covers an area of 650 sq. km and is now part of the vast Gran Cantabrica Biosphere Reserve, designed to protect the biodiversity of the Cantabrian mountain range. Mixed forests grow in the park with a predominance of beech, oak, maple, hazel and chestnut. Animals such as Cantabrian bears, Iberian wolves, wild boars, roe deer, many species of birds, including the symbol of the park – capercaillie, as well as various birds of prey, live here. The highest point of the park is Mount Torre de Serredo (2648 m). This is the highest point of the Cantabrian mountains. In total, there are about 200 peaks in the park with a height of more than 2000 m. An interesting fact is that, along with the highest points, the deepest gorges and caves of the country are also located in the park. In the middle of the slopes overgrown with forests, turbulent mountain rivers flow, and lakes lie in the valleys. The Picos de Europa National Park is a great place for hiking and rock climbing. There are hiking trails of varying difficulty in the park. The most popular is the “La Ruta del Cares” route, passing through a deep gorge formed by the Cares River. The depth of the gorge reaches 1.5 km. You can also explore the park by going tofunicular trip. The tourist center of the Picos de Europa National Park in the province of León is the town of Posada de Valdeon.