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Study in León, Spain

Study in León, Spain

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The Plaza Mayor in León

The city of León is the capital of the province of the same name, located in the beautiful northwest portion of Spain. The population of the city proper—roughly 140,000 inhabitants—makes it the largest municipality in the province, accounting for more than one quarter of that province’s total population. Including the surrounding metropolitan area of Leon, the population is an estimated 500,000 as of the last census.

Founded as the Roman military encampment of the Legio VI Victrix around 29 BC, Leon’s standing as an encampment city was consolidated with the definitive settlement of the Legio VII Gemina from 74 AD. Following its partial depopulation due to the Umayyad conquest of the peninsula, León was revived by its incorporation into the Kingdom of Asturias.

After a period of stagnation during the early modern age, Leon was one of the first cities to hold an uprising in the Spanish War of Independence, and some years later, in 1833 acquired the status of provincial capital. The end of the 19th and the 20th century saw a significant acceleration in the rate of urban expansion, when the city became an important communications hub of the northwest due to the rise of the coal mining industry and the arrival of the railroad.

Leon's historical and architectural heritage, as well as the numerous festivals hosted throughout the year (particularly noteworthy are the Easter processions) and its location on the Camino de Santiago, which is ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, make it a destination of both domestic and international tourism. Some of the city's most prominent historical buildings are the Cathedral, the finest example of French-style classic Gothic architecture in Spain; the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon's medieval monarchs; the Monastery of San Marcos, a prime example of plateresque and Renaissance Spanish architecture; and the Casa Botines, a Modernist creation of the architect Antoni Gaudí. A noteworthy example of modern architecture is the city's Museum of Contemporary Art or MUSAC.

Things to Do and See in Leon, Spain

The city of Leon offers visitors a wealth of things to do and see, including the following popular attractions:

The Basilica of San Isidro

The Basilica of San Isidoro is a church in León, Spain, located on the site of an ancient Roman temple. Its Christian roots can be traced back to the early 10th century, when a monastery for Saint John the Baptist was erected on the grounds. In 1063, the Basilica was rededicated to Saint Isidore of Seville. Isidore was the archbishop of Seville, and the most celebrated academic and theologian during the Visigothic period in Spain, in the period preceding the Arab invasions. With the agreement of Abbad II al-Mu'tadid, the Muslim ruler of Seville, Isidore's remains were brought to Leon where they could be interred on Christian soil. The tomb of the saint still draws many visitors today. An equestrian statue of Saint Isidore dressed as Santiago Matamoros is also visible in the Basilica, as well as many other sculptures, located high on the facade.

Palacio de los Guzmanes (Palace of Guzmanes)

The Palacio de los Guzmanes is a Renaissance building in the city that now serves as the seat of the Provincial Government of León.

The architect Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón built the Palace of Guzmanes in the 16th century, commissioned by the aristocratic family of Guzman, one of the city’s most powerful and influential families. It is three-storey high structure with square towers at the four corners and is arranged around a two-storey courtyard. The façade has a round arches gallery on the top floor.

Casa de los Botines

The Casa de los Botines (built from 1892-1893) is one of the city’s Modernist buildings and was designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. It was recently adapted to serve as the headquarters of Caja España, a local savings bank. With the Casa de los Botines, Gaudí wanted to pay tribute to León's emblematic buildings. Therefore, he designed a structure with a medieval air and numerous neo-Gothic characteristics. The building consists of four floors, a basement and an attic. Gaudí chose an inclined roof and placed towers in the corners to reinforce the project's neo-Gothic feel. To ventilate and illuminate the basement, he created a moat around two of the façades, a strategy that he would repeat at the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Gaudí placed the owners' dwellings on the first floor. These are accessed, respectively, by independent doors in the lateral and back façades. The upper floors house rental property and the lower floor contains the company offices. The building's principal entrance is crowned by a wrought iron inscription with the name of the company and by a stone sculpture of Saint George, shown as he is slaying a dragon. During the restoration of the building in 1950, workers discovered a tube of lead under the sculpture containing the original plans signed by Gaudí and press clippings from the era.

Vibrancy and life seem to echo from the very stones of Léon. The Spanish city is a colorful encampment that has housed both Roman military legions and lively modern students. In this place of extreme beauty, urban delights and ancient marvels meet and mix to create a one-of-a-kind cultural and educational experience. Students are guaranteed to take back lifelong memories from their time in Léon, Spain.
Despite the thousands of students that live, work and learn in Léon, there are actually few institutions that cater to their higher education. Only one public, Spanish university exists in the area: the University of Léon, one of the highest-ranking institutions in Spain. Other campuses in Leon are affiliated with foreign schools, such as those from the United States. Other foreign schools offer study abroad program in the city, but not full-time campuses and degree courses.
Other institutions in Spain are referred to as ‘colegios’ or ‘escuelas.’ These colleges offer bachelor degrees, but differ from other higher education institutions in that they also provide primary and secondary education. Some of the bachelor programs at these colleges may be fairly limited. There are dozens of such college scattered throughout the city, some of which claim independency, and others which associate with large universities.
If students enjoy language-learning pursuits, they’ll find a fascinating challenge in Léon: Leonese, and endangered language spoken in the area since the medieval era. For those who enjoy a party, Leon is famed for an active nightlife thanks to a number of exciting clubs. The culturally inclined need not look far for entertainment, either. With multiple medieval cathedrals, artifact-filled museums and even Roman crypts, the city is ripe with historic treats – and all students should enjoy traditional tapas during their stay.
Other considerations for future students in Léon include:
  • Majority of courses taught in Spanish.
Major Fields of Study in Léon
Léon is a city rich in history, art and architecture – but this does not significantly reflect in the city’s schools. Science, engineering and technology studies actually enjoy far more popularity and diversity than art and design. Language learning also enjoys massive popularity, since there are multiple schools, courses, campuses, study abroad programs and specialty colleges that focus in language.
However, Léon still enjoys a fairly diverse course set. The amount and variety of pursued majors in Léon rivals that of larger cities in Spain. However, students will find that the following fields of study boast more comprehensive programs and receive higher enrollment rates.
  • Language and literature
  • Sciences (biology, physics, chemistry)
  • Engineering
  • Technol ogy
In some schools, education receives a high amount of attention as well. This can include studies in teacher training, physical education and language.
Schools of Léon
The main higher education institute in Léon is the University of Léon, but there are other colleges and schools available in the area. The following list outlines a few of the many institutions students can choose from when they study in Léon.
  1. The University of Léon is the main public university in the city of Léon. It includes multiple faculties, with their most notable in language, technology and certain sciences (especially veterinary and biological science). With eight research institutes, it is a leading provider of science degrees in Léon.
  2. The Colegio de Santa Teresa is an undergraduate college with two main degree courses: science and technology or humanities and social science. Like many other Spanish colleges, it will educate students from preschool age all the way up to higher education.
  3. The Escuela Profesional San Francisco of Leon is an institution offering dozens of bachelor programs to prospective students. Like other colleges, it offers degrees in science and technology fields or humanities and social science. This includes majors in economics, chemistry and language.