The pride of León is its soaring Gothic cathedral, on the Plaza de Regla. Its upper reaches have more windows than stone. Flanked by two aggressively square towers, the facade has three arched, weatherworn doorways, the middle one adorned with slender statues of the apostles. Begun in 1205, the cathedral has 125 long, thin stained-glass windows, dozens of decorative small ones, and three giant rose windows. The windows depict abstract floral patterns as well as various biblical and medieval scenes; on sunny days, they cast bejeweled streams of light on the beautifully spare, pale sandstone interior. A glass door to the choir gives an unobstructed view of nave windows and the painted altarpiece, framed with gold leaf. The cathedral also contains the sculpted tomb of King Ordoño II, who moved the capital of Christian Spain to León. The museum's collection boasts giant medieval hymnals, textiles, sculptures, wood carvings, and paintings. Look for the carved-wood Mudejar archive, with
a letter of the alphabet above each door; it's one of the world's oldest file cabinets. The partial museum visit excludes the museum's best and earliest works: the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance ivory carvings and silversmithery, so opt for the full museum ticket. The absolute highlight is a nighttime guided tour; drop by earlier in the day to find out the current tour times. The cathedral is in theory closed to tourists during Sunday Mass; some foreigners have complained of being asked to pay an entrance fee to attend services.