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Santa María de León Cathedral, also called The House of Light or the Pulchra Leonina is situated in the city of León in north-west Spain. It was built on the site of previous Roman baths of the 2nd century which, 800 years later, the emblematic king Ordoño II converted into a palace. Its doors, its impressive rose window, the choir (one of the oldest in the country) and the delicacy of some figures, like the venerated Virgin Blanca presiding over the constant traffic of visitors, are some of the not-to-be-missed features of this cathedral.
The León Cathedral, dedicated to Santa María de la Regla, was declared of Cultural Interest in 1844. It is known as the Pulchra Leonina and it is a masterpiece of the Gothic style dominating the mid 13th century, by master architect Enrique. By the late 16th century it was virtually completed.
One of the most attractive features is the main front, with two towers (the south one known as the 'clock tower'). The interior represents a beautiful combination of architecture, painting, sculpture and other arts. It must not be forgotten that the Renaissance retrochoir contains alabaster sculptures and that the choir was built by three great artists: Jusquin, Copin of Holland and Juan de Malinas. Particularly noteworthy is the Plateresque screen in the wall behind the sepulchre of King Ordoño.
It has three portals decorated with sculptures situated in the pointed arches between the two towers. The central section has a large rose window. Particularly outstanding is the image of the Virgin Blanca and the Locus Apellatione, where justice was imparted.
Its almost 1,800 square meters of stained glass windows dating from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century are among the world's finest stained glass.
In the Main Chapel, there is an altarpiece by Nicolás Francés (15th century) and a silver urn containing the relics of San Froilán, the town's Saint patron, made by Enrique de Arfe. The 13th-15th century cloister contains singular sculpted details in the capitals, friezes and ledges.
The Cathedral Museum houses a large collection of sacred art. There are almost 1,500 pieces including 50 Romanesque sculptures of the Virgin, dating from pre-historic times to the 18th century (Neoclassicism) with works by Juan de Juni, Gregorio Fernández, Mateo Cerezo, a triptych of the School of Antwerp, a Mozarabic bible and numerous codices.
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