The good thing about the historical part of León, apart from all the bars in the ¨Barrio Humedo¨, is that without having to walk for long you can see buildings of nearly all the different eras. San Isidoro Collegiate… The Cathedral… and what came after the Roman and Gothic times: The Renaissance, represented here by the house of Guzmanes, today, the seat of the León Provincial Council.
What can we say about this building? To start with, just by looking at it, you can see that this is a palace that looks like is taken out of Florence or the Rome of the Renaissance. It is not surprising, since the person who ordered it to be built, the bishop Don Juan de Quiñones y Guzman, had lived in Italy around that era, in the city of Trento.
It was the architect from Santander, Gil de Hontañón, who took care that this Leonese building, had the purest elements of the Italian Renaissance. There are the semi-circular arches and the decoration with Ionic columns monitored throughout the centuries by the warriors of the main entrance.
Enjoy the sober, mathematical and purely renaissance forms that Gil de Hontañón left in this 2,000 m2 Palace, which its construction began in the year 1559.
Declared national heritage since 1963, here you can also see, in the ornaments of the façade, great examples of the German Renaissance, especially on the cartouches that decorate the upper part of this palace.
If you have a good look at the other buildings in San Marcelo square, where the Palace of Guzmanes is, you can see a church that also looks from the Renaissance times, with that simplicity of smooth forms and barely any ornaments. Something striking because the construction of that church, which is one of the oldest in León, started in Roman times but it was only finished in the year 1628, in the middle of the Baroque era, when garlands, cornucopias and other ornaments were the fashion at the time. Even so, it maintained its pure, romantic and Renaissance lines. As if the successive architects who were building it did not want to put a shade, with a Baroque excess, to this example of renaissance construction that this Palace of Guzmanes is. Although we bet that some of those architect’s eyes were hurting, seeing so many smooth spaces, without being able to fill it with ornaments...