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What to Do in León Guanajuato in One day

By Sergio Fuentes |

Visit the downtown of the city of Leon, Guanajuato in one day. Don’t miss this key point of the Route of the Mexican Independence.

There are several tourist attractions in the state of Guanajuato, in Mexico. We have already talked to you about the legend of the Callejon del Beso (Kissing Alley), in the heart of the city of Guanajuato; the Jesus Nazareno Sanctuary in Atotonilco, and of one of the most popular destinations for Mexicans and American retirees: San Miguel de Allende. Today we’re adding another destination to this collection of Mexican treasures: the Jewel of El Bajío, León de los Aldama.

Leon Guanajuato History

León was founded in the late 16th century by Martín Enriquez de Almansa. It was renamed “Leon de los Aldama” in the 19th century in memory of Juan and Ignacio Aldama, two protagonists of the Mexican Independence War in that region. Nowadays, the city is known as the Pearl of the Mexican Bajio, a region that is widely known for its top quality and affordable shoe shops. In the last two decades, the city has grown thanks to automotive investments made by German and Japanese companies that have expanded across the metropolitan area, which includes Silao, Celaya and Salamanca.

Traveling to Leon can be a great experience given its rich and diverse historical and cultural heritage. That’s why today we recommend taking this tour to the city’s Historic Center in one day. You’ll begin at Madero walkway, a meeting point for locals, and from that point, DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, will tell you which are the best places to visit.

León’s Triumphal Arch

It was built in 1883 in wood and clay, but three years later it was substituted by another one made of quarry. This construction marked the border of the city’, but today it marks the beginning of the Historic Center and it’s one of the city’s main attractions. At the top you’ll see four pitchers and a bronze lion, whose original version made of stone is found at the local zoo. This lion, of course, is the symbol of the municipality of León.

The arch leads to Madero Street, the walkway where your tour begins and where you’ll find Madero Market, a great place to find excellent, affordable food in a clean and calm environment.

Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This monumental church was built in neo-Gothic style, and it will remind you of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals. Its construction began in 1921 and ended until 2012, so it took almost a hundred years to be finished! What you’ll enjoy the most about visiting this temple is that it houses a collection of stained glass windows that create a show of unique and colorful lights. At night, a lights show is projected using the west façade of the Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart as screen. It tells the story of the state of Guanajuato.

León Guanajuato’s Main Square

It’s one of the widest and nicest places you’ll find in León. The gazebo located in the heart of the park is the perfect place to have an ice cream or a coffee that you can buy at one of the shops located around the square. It’s also one of the most crowded areas, where many urban artists like to perform. Take into account that the City Hall is located in front of the square. Visit it to find mural paintings by the famous Leonese artist Jesús Gallardo.

Sanctuary of Leon de los Aldama

One of the oldest constructions in León is the former Franciscan order temple, which  is now the Cathedral’s sanctuary. The beautiful altarpiece dedicated to Saint Sebastian, a Roman saint, is one of its most characteristic features. Other attributes are a Barroque façade and a tower, decorated with sculptures that remind us of satyrs and horns of plenty. They were recently restored so you’ll be able to see all their details in full splendor.

The Fountain of the Lions, Symbol of the City of León

Next to the temple you’ll find another iconic attraction in León: the Fountain of the Lions. Yes, it’s the namesake of the famous fountain in the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain. Four majestic felines guard the vital liquid that springs from this monumental construction. Its imposing appearance and beauty make it worthy of the best photos and selfies you can take.

Works by Miguel Cabrera at the Holy Mother of Light Cathedral in León

Finish your tour at León’s Cathedral. The image of the Virgin of Light has been venerated in Mexico since colonial times. It was promoted by Jesuite friars who made it popular across all the territory of New Spain. Although the image is antique, the Cathedral’s interior design is from the 20th century. The temple also houses the Museum of Sacred Art of Leon. Here, they ehibit textile works created in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also houses a collection of paintings from the 17th to the 21st century. This diversity will allow you to see multiple artistic expressions of religiousness. Some of the most outstanding works were created by Miguel Cabrera, one of the most famous painters in Mexico, who left a great legacy for Mexican art.

What to Eat and Drink in Leon 

After your tour, enjoy some of the most tasty Lionese snacks and drinks.

  • Cebadina – Find this beverage next to the City Hall. It’s elaborated with hibiscus, tamarind, barley, and a bit of baking soda to make it frizzy.
  • Guacamayas – These huge baguette-like sandwiches are filled with pork crackling, avocado and pico de gallo sauce (tomato, green chili and onion).
  • Caldo de oso – This snack combines sliced fruit, onion, cheese and vinegar. It sounds strange but it tastes great.

Caldo de Oso

This brief tour in the Pearl of the Bajío offers many places to visit. If you want to stay more days in León Guanajuato, you can get more information about hotels in this link. DINKtravelers hopes you enjoy your stay in the city of León, a cultural and tourist jewel in Mexico.