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Fodor's Spain 2014
Antiguo Convento de San Marcos
Antiguo Convento de San Marcos Review
Fronted by a large, airy pedestrian plaza, this sumptuous building is now a luxury hotel, the Parador de León. Originally a home for knights of the Order of St. James, who patrolled the Camino de Santiago, and a stop for weary pilgrims, the monastery you see today was begun in 1513 by the head of the order, King Ferdinand, who thought that knights deserved something better. Finished at the height of the Renaissance, the plateresque facade is a majestic swath of small, intricate sculptures (many depicting knights and lords) and ornamentation—one of the most impressive Renaissance buildings in Spain. Inside, the elegant staircase and a cloister full of medieval statues lead you to the bar, which still has the original defensive arrow slits as windows. As the Anexo Monumental del Museo de León, the convent also displays historic paintings and artifacts.
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