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Founded as the military encampment of the Legio VI Victrix around 29 BC, its standing as an encampment city was consolidated with the definitive settlement of the Legio VII Gemina from 74 AD. Following its partial depopulation due to the Umayyad conquest of the peninsula, León was revived by its incorporation into the Kingdom of Asturias. 910 saw the beginning of one its most prominent historical periods, when it became the capital of the Kingdom of León. Sacked by Almanzor in about 987, the city was reconstructed and repopulated by Alfonso V. King Alfonso V of León gave the the city its "Fueru de Llión" (1017), an important letter of privileges and regulation of its economic life, including the functioning of its markets. With Alfonso V of León the city had the "Fueru de Llión", an important letter of privileges.
In 1188, the city hosted the first parliament of all the three states (Cortes de León) in Spain and European history under the reign of Alfonso IX.
Leon hosts several festivals hosted throughout the year (particularly noteworthy are the Easter processions). León is a way-station for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago leading to Santiago de Compostela making it an important make it an importan destination of both Spanish and European pilgrimage.
Some of the city's most prominent historical buildings are the Cathedral, the finest example 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 Leon's medieval monarchs, the Monastery of San Marcos, a prime example of plateresque and Renaissance Spanish architecture.