The Hostal de San Marcos is one of the most extraordinary historic hotels on the Old Continent. Construction of the building was begun in the 16th century, together with the bridge across the River Bernesga in the outskirts of León. It was built to house the peninsula's western headquarters for the Military Order of Saint James. The project was financed by King Ferdinand the Catholic. The magnificent hotel is a museum of stately function rooms, with a spectacular cloister and chapter house; spacious, elegant guest rooms; a library; and a wonderful restaurant that offersbeautifully prepared traditional cuisine.
Some of the most prestigious architects and sculptors in the country and neighboring France worked on the carved façade, cloister, church and magnificent choir stalls. Its thick walls bore witness to important episodes in our history: they hosted the order’s chapter meetings, served as a place of confinement for such illustrious figures as writer Francisco Quevedo, and witnessed tragic periods, including its use as a concentration camp during the Spanish Civil War.
Over many centuries, as the friars tended the battered bodies of pilgrims, the knights of the order retook the peninsula from the Arabs. San Marcos was like a city in miniature, with animal pens, gardens, storehouses, stables, a wine cellar and a jail, as well as a corps of clerics, health workers and servants.
Today, the Hostal continues to take in travelers from all over the world, offering them the opportunity to experience history. During a stay in this exceptional building, guests can discover the grandeur of a unique city whose heritage reflects its past status as capital of the kingdom and its key role over so many centuries.
León is blessed with such beautiful treasures as its Gothic cathedral, which contains some of the most gorgeous stained glass windows in Europe; the Romanesque frescoes at San Isidro Collegiate Church, known as the Romanesque Sistine Chapel; and the most impressive Plateresque style façade, that of the Parador itself.
It is difficult to get a true feel for the city without visiting the old quarter, or without enjoying tapas in the Húmedo neighborhood, without strolling through San Martín Square and Las Palomas Square, without following the routes of the Way of St. James, the Roman Route, the Jewish Route and the Route of the Fountains. León is synonymous with eternal beauty, a wonderful legacy of the past which will leave no visitor indifferent.