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León's historical and architectural heritage, as well as the numerous festivals hosted throughout the year (particularly noteworthy are the Easter processions) and its location on the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, which is ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, make it a destination of both domestic and international tourism.
Some of the city's most prominent historical buildings are the Cathedral, one of the finest examples of French-style classic Gothic architecture in Spain, the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of León's medieval monarchs, the Monastery of San Marcos, an example of plateresque and Renaissance Spanish architecture, and the Casa Botines, a Modernist creation of the architect Antoni Gaudí.
In 1188, the city hosted the first Parliament in European history under the reign of Alfonso IX, due to which it was named in 2010, by the professor John Keane, the King of Spain and the Junta of Castile and León, as the cradle of Parliamentarism, and the Decreta of León were included in the Memory of the World register by UNESCO in 2013.
The city's prominence began to decline in the early Middle Ages, partly due to the loss of independence after the union of the Leonese kingdom with the Crown of Castile, consolidated in 1301.
His son, Alfonso X divided the kingdom again in his testament, but it was not accepted by the King of Castile, who rejoined both crowns.
From 1296 to 1301, León was an independent kingdom again, and from then until 1833, when Spain was divided into regions and provinces, the Kingdom of León kept itself as a Spanish Crown territory, whose capital city was León apart from a short period, during which French troops invaded the Kingdom when it was Carracedo.
In the year 856, under the Christian king Ordoño I, another attempt at repopulation was made and was successful.
Alfonso III of León and García I of León made León city the capital of the Kingdom of León and the most important of the Christian cities in Iberia.
The end of the 19th and the 20th century saw a significant acceleration in the rate of urban expansion, when the city became an important communications hub of the northwest due to the rise of the coal mining industry and the arrival of the railroad.Including the metropolitan area, the population is estimated at 202,793 (2015).