León Cathedral


Wynette: This was our first view of the cathedral in León. We turned a corner, I wasn’t yet expecting to see it, but there it was. We couldn’t yet see the whole facade, but it kind of took my breath away. Before this, on the way to León, I’d told Charlie I wasn’t excited about seeing it. I’d seen enough Gothic cathedrals with all their ornamentation. And I didn’t plan to go inside. But all that changed when I saw it. It is hard to describe, but it has a majestic simplicity and is by far the prettiest Gothic cathedral I’ve seen. The inside was the same. Walls and walls of beautiful stained glass including flowers and geometric patterns, not just people. But somehow simple. Very little flashy gold craziness. (That was fun in Burgos and Toledo, but I’d had my fill.)




  1. Long reply here… the Gothic style came late to Spain, and it arrived without the internal logic that was part of the essence of Gothic in France, and somewhat later, in England. So Gothic in Spain doesn’t have the elegance and cohesion that it has in those two countries and is just more of a decorative style. In addition, the enclosed choir that is popular in Spain breaks up the sight line down the nave, though the choir and on to the east end of the church. The Spanish also, as Wynette noted, have a tendency to overdecorate their churches — if you think it is bad in a Spanish Gothic cathedral visit the Baroque churches of Spain, or even more so, those of the New World. Gold everywhere, while the poor remained poor. But these New World Baroque churches are awe inspiring in their overwhelming way, which was exactly what was intended… that is, impress the natives.

    Henry Shapiro

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