It is located in the Plaza de San Isidoro, a romantic district, near the cathedral of León, in the heart of the old town. It stands on what was the settlement of the Roman military camp of the Legio VII Gemina. Firstly, there was a church dedicated to San Juan Bautista, and King Sancho I, in 996, ordered a monastery to be built next to it to house the mortal remains, brought from Córdoba, of the martyr boy Pelayo. In 988 Almanzor razed the monastery to the ground, but the relics of the martyr Pelayo had already been put to safety and taken to Oviedo. Alfonso V el Noble encouraged the construction, at the beginning of the 11th century, of a new monastery that would be called Monasterio de San Juan y San Pelayo and at the foot of the church he built a portico to serve as a pantheon for the kings of León. Years later his daughter Doña Sancha and her husband, the king of Castile and León, Fernando I el Magno, rebuilt the temple, replacing the brick and the tapial with ashlar stone, and ordered the remains of San Isidoro to be brought from Seville, with the consequent change of title when this new church was consecrated in 1063. The relics of San Vicente de Ávila are also transferred from the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza.
Of this church, only the north wall that forms part of the cloister, the west façade and the west door, which is now blocked, remains. The daughter of these kings, the infanta doña Urraca ordered the construction of the Royal Pantheon and the so-called "chamber of doña Sancha" at the foot of the church. All of these are the oldest preserved parts. The church that is currently being contemplated also dates from the 12th century. Nowadays it is the Secular Priestly Institute in charge of everything related to the Royal Collegiate Basilica of San Isidoro. In this task he replaced a Chapter of Regular Canons of St. Augustine who governed the monastery until 1956 when in 1148 they took over from a Benedictine community of nuns.
In the temple, if you look at it from the square or from its southern wall, you can admire two cover page: the Lamb's cover page, which was finished around the year 1100, although its upper area was reformed in the Modern Age, and the Door of Forgiveness, which opens directly towards the transept and belongs to the period of full Romanesque, and which is less old than that of the Lamb's façade. The interior of the church, with a dim light that calls for peace and spirituality, the main chapel is of Gothic style; the chapel of Quiñones is from the 13th century; that of the Holy Trinity from the 12th century; the choir is from the 15th...
Once again outside, at the foot of the temple, the bell tower, also known as the Rooster's Tower because of the rooster-veleta that the crown has been for centuries the most precious symbol of the city of León, has the first two bodies of Romanesque style of the eleventh century and were conceived as a defensive enclosure attached to the wall, the two upper are from the twelfth century and house the bells, among which is considered the oldest in Spain because it was melted in the year 1086. The Royal Pantheon, a simple crypt where the remains of kings and queens, infants and counts of Castilla y León rest, is the winner of the visit to this Royal Basilica of San Isidoro. It is notable for the paintings that practically cover the vaults and arches of the enclosure and that date from the middle of the 12th century, in Romanesque style with Byzantine or oriental influences, and the 21 capitals that top the columns. Some of these capitals depict scenes from the gospel in peninsular Romanesque style. A tour of its two cloisters that are communicated through an archibaroque ornamentation door, or the museum, which agglutinates several rooms between them, and above the Royal Pantheon, is the Royal Tribune or Chamber of Doña Sancha, which was from where the royal characters attended the religious services. It is also known as the Treasure Room, where such extraordinary and beautiful pieces as the chalice of Doña Urraca, the ivory casket, the enamel casket are exhibited... Surely the visitor will keep in his retina all that he has admired here and in his spirit will settle a sensation of sweet peace.
Through the Door of Forgiveness of the Royal Collegiate Church of San Isidoro, pilgrims on the Way of Saint James entered the temple, thereby obtaining the corresponding indulgences and forgiveness of sins. It only opens in the Holy Years.
In the Romanesque Cloister of the Royal Collegiate Church of San Isidoro, at the beginning of the reign of Alfonso IX, the 1188 Cortes de León were held, the first Cortes in history, and its Magna Carta written here is considered by UNESCO to be "the oldest documentary testimony of the European parliamentary system".
According to researchers, the chalice of Doña Urraca hides the cup with which Jesus celebrated the last supper. The cup that the artisans of Jerusalem considered to be the one used by Christ travelled to Spain in the 11th century as a gift from the Caliph, who at that time ruled Egypt, to the Emir of Denia for his help, who in turn gave it to Ferdinand I, king of León, in 1054 as a guarantee of peace between the two kingdoms. This Cup of Christ is said to be only the upper part of the chalice of Doña Urraca, which is made up of two ceramic halves joined in the centre by an "apple" ordered to be made by Doña Urraca herself as custody of the chalice she wanted to adorn with her own jewels. This old onyx cup of San Isidoro which is the same as the one worship that Christians living in Jerusalem worshipped since the year 400, like the one used by Jesus at the Last Supper, has been in the Royal Basilica of San Isidoro for the last thousand years.
León is reached by a large number of roads that connect it with the main capitals, such as the A-231 that connects it with Burgos as well as the AP-71 or the N-120 and the La Plata dual carriageway or the N-630 that connect it with the A-6 via Astorga and Benavente respectively, as well as the AP-66 and the N-630 that connect it to Oviedo to the north. The León bus station is located on Avenida Ingeniero Sáenz de Miera S/N telephone 987 211 000. The different intercity bus companies that operate in León communicate it, as well as with localities in the province and the autonomous community, with cities and capitals in the rest of Spain. The city of León can also be reached by train, as it has two railway stations, the León station, which is managed by Adif, better known for the Renfe station, which hosts trains that make long-distance and high-speed lines, is located in Avenida de Palencia, telephone 902 24 02 02 and the Matallana station, FEVE, in Avenida Padre Isla, 48, telephone 987 22 59 19, which provides regional services to Bilbao and Transcantábrico. León Airport is located in the municipality of Valverde de la Virgen, about 6 kilometres from the centre of León. It has daily flights to Madrid and Barcelona and in the summer it expands its offer.
The Royal Basilica of San Isidoro is located in the Plaza de San Isidoro, in the heart of the historic centre of León. It can be reached via Cid Street from the Casa Botines and the Palacio de los Guzmanes or from San Marcos following the streets Avda. Suero de Quiños first and Renueva later.
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