Spain is a country with as many identities as landscapes and it is normal that, sometimes, it is difficult to choose a destination. From endless coasts of crystal clear water in the south to lush green forests in the north, the national panorama leaves no one indifferent. And there is also that province in Castile and León that is one of the great leaders in terms of rural tourism: León. León is one of the places with the most charming landscapes and villages in the whole country. Tiled houses set in time, places with history and legends and a natural environment that leaves all visitors speechless. A walk through the most beautiful villages of León and the treasures that make them unique is most stimulating.
Located in the heart of the Sierra de los Ancares, Balboa is one of the villages with the most particular and curious architecture of the province: the pallozas. These traditional houses are built in a Celtic style, which gives them a circular floor plan, low walls and a cone-shaped roof of vegetable origin that seems to be taken from a fantasy story. Another of the great tourist attractions of this charming village is its Church of Santa Maria. It dates from the XIII and XVI centuries and has a Renaissance style that causes a curious cultural shock compared to the pallozas.
With a privileged location and being a mandatory place within the pilgrimage of the Way to Santiago, Astorga has become a town with a great historical heritage and one of the most visited places by all rural tourists. One of the jewels of this powerful town is its Cathedral of Santa María, in Gothic style, which was built between the XV and XVIII centuries. In addition, its Episcopal Palace, designed by Antoni Gaudí, is an obligatory stop within the visit of the town.
Molinaseca is a village to get lost in, with its stone houses and medieval atmosphere. Located in the region of El Bierzo, it is another place of passage for pilgrims on their Way to Santiago. One of its great attractions is the Roman bridge that crosses the river Meruelo and serves as the entrance to the village. Its interior has been declared a Historic Site. Among its most illustrious places is the Church of San Nicolás de Bari, of neoclassical style, located in the highest part.
Peñalba de Santiago leaves no one indifferent, as it is not only one of the most beautiful villages of León, but of all Spain. Its location, in the heart of the Oza Valley, has unparalleled views. Its own structure and aesthetics have made it a place declared a Historic-Artistic Site. The houses of this charming village surprise all visitors and make them move to other scenarios. Stone houses, wooden terraces and chalk roofs are the daily landscape of its inhabitants. In addition, the Church of Santiago built back in the 10th century leaves this place anchored in time and in the memory of tourists.
Originally, some centuries ago, Castrillo de Polvazares was a village dedicated to the work of horse carriers. This is precisely one of the attractions that have been preserved in its streets and in all its details. This town has also been catalogued as a Historic-Artistic Site due to its network of streets and stone houses that take you back to another era.
The small villages of León have one factor in common among them: their irregular architecture. It is precisely this charming disorder that gives that picturesque and charming aspect to their streets and houses. A perfect example of all this is in Santa Colomba de Somoza, located in the Maragatería region, whose buildings, such as the Parish Church of the Assumption, and its muleteer tradition, make it one of the most beautiful villages in the region.
Sahagún is one of the most historic villages in León. Its streets have witnessed, over the centuries, all kinds of cultures and traditions. Today, it is one of the places along the Way to Santiago that best reflects the mix of styles of the whole province. Getting lost in its streets is like walking through medieval times and is one of the mandatory stops for history lovers. Among its key buildings are the 12th century Romanesque Mudejar style Church of San Tiros, as well as the Parish Church of San Lorenzo, the Royal Monastery of San Benito and the Sanctuary of La Peregrina.
This town is located in the region of El Bierzo, in the middle of the Sierra de Ancares, and is known as “the little Compostela“, due to the resemblance it has with some of the most emblematic buildings of the place. Among its must-sees is the Collegiate Church of Santa María de Cluniaco, whose perfect blend of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles have turned it into an imposing building.
Lombillo de los Barrios is in the region of El Bierzo and despite being a village that can be seen with just a walk, due to its small size, it is worth stopping to know it. In its interior there are real architectural gems that declared it a Historic-Artistic Site in 2014. Among its main attractions are the Church of San Martín, the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación and the Bierzo viewpoint.
This ancestral village is in the middle of the Ancares Valley and, as you could see in Balboa, has one of the most curious and characteristic structures of the area: the pallozas. It is one of the most rural and traditional villages in the province, with an enviable setting and an atmosphere linked to nature. Today, it is still a village of farmers with a great tradition behind it.
This village is one of the greatest idylls of León and is that, located in a place worthy of a postcard, in full ascent of the Puerto de Pajares, Arbas del Puerto has only 5 inhabitants today. It preserves the Collegiate Church of Santa María de Arbas, an imposing building in comparison with the size of the village that, in another era, served as an old hospital, church and convent.