León, city, Spain

León, city (1990 pop. 137,758), capital of León prov., NW Spain, in Castile and León, at the foot of the Cantabrian Mts. and at the confluence of the Bernesga and Torio rivers. It is an agricultural and commercial center. Dating from Roman times, it was reconquered from the Moors in 882 by Alfonso III of Asturias. Early in the 10th cent., León replaced Oviedo as the capital of the kingdom of Asturias, which became the kingdom of León. The city flourished in the 12th and 13th cent. as a trade center but declined after the kings of León and Castile made Valladolid their favored residence. It still retains a medieval atmosphere, and its many historic monuments attract tourists. Most notable is the Spanish Gothic cathedral (13th–14th cent.).

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