When the railway arrived to León.

Category: Edad Contemporánea

León’s revival came from XIXth, mostly because of the road improvement and the arrival of the railway after a lethargy that lasted 3 centuries. A new middle class from agriculture and industry raised the economic level of the city, which was translated into an arranged urban expansion and the creation of new buildings. Nor the kings, neither the aristocracy, or the Church’s princes erect important buildings, but the institutions or the business men. The “Casa de Botines” by Antonio Gaudí is a representative example from this new architecture

San Jorge y el Dragón (Saint George and the dragon): sculpture in Botines

The "Casa de Botines", located next to the former Palacio Renacentista de los Guzmanes (Renacentist Palace of Guzmanes), is due to the initiative of some prosperous silk traders from León who had links with the Catalonian textile industry. One of them, named Carlos Güell, recommended Gaudí for the project of construction of a new business head office for the Leónese. Gaudí started his project in 1891 and he had to overcome many burocratic problems before finishing his work. He made an astonishing building, inspired in the Middle Age and finished with his personal Modernist style. The building was used both as silk trade office the lower floors and as flats in the higher ones. It was declared Nacional Heritage in 1969, and bought afterwards by a financial institution from León, Caja España, which restored it to be used as head office.

This very personal style from Gaudí inspired another architects to design new civil buildings, as the Post Office, by Manuel Cárdenas (1910). During the first third of the XXth Century, the city grew in constructions such as the Casa Roldán, Teatro Emperador, Casa de los Picos or Casa Jardín de Papalaguinda, Edificio Bernesga and Edificio Pastor, meaning the threshold of the current urban development, where parks, fountains and garden play an essential role.

The park Parque de Quevedo, next to the bridge Puente de San Marcos, is an open space of 60.000 squared metres, full of quiet corners and avenues such as the garden named Jardín Romántico, presided by a statue of the poet Rubén Darío.

Juego de bolos leonés

The avenue Paseo de Condesa Sagasta, by the riverbank, combines gardens and sports zones. The garden Jardín de San Francisco, exquisitely small and embellished by the fountain Fuente de Neptuno, contrasts with the 100.000 squared metres of the garden Jardín de la Granja, the most trendy one of the city, with its lightning fountains and its sportive avenues. Both gardens and fountains show off in the Plaza Circular, Glorieta de Guzmán el Bueno, Plaza de Santo Domingo, Avenida de Miguel Castaño, or Plaza del Grano, where there is a small fountain which represents two angels that embrace the city, as the rivers Torio and Bernesga do. The history of the city of León began around 2000 years ago over a hill, in the confluence of those two rivers.

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