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León, Spain

Location and Facilities:

Avda. Facultad e Veterinaria, 25
Universidad de León
E-24071 León

The City:

The city of León is capital to the province of the same name. The Province of León is situated in the North of Spain, between the Castillian plain and the Cantabrian mountains. Castillian landscapes range from vast plains to valleys and mountains. The climate is continental with warm, dry summers and cold, dry winters. León, the city, can trace its origin back to 68 B.C. when Roman legions occupied the lands between the Elsa and Bernesga rivers. During the 10th century the court of León was established by Ordoño II and it became the most important city of Christian Spain. The first democratic Courts were established under Alfonso IX, thus making it one of the oldest cities in Europe to have a parliament.

León is a friendly city, both modern and medieval, with a population of approximately 150,000 inhabitants. It is the administrative and commercial center of the province as well as an important crossroads in the north of Spain. Medieval León has Roman walls, a Gothic cathedral, the Romanesque Colegio de San Isidoro, and the Plateresque San Marcos, once a monastery and prison, now a National Parador Hotel. Modern León boasts avenues, parks, walks, and of course the University campus. It is a city that easily allows you to get to know its streets and people. It has a great range of cultural activities: fiestas like Carnival contrast with the solemnity of Holy Week. In the old part of town, "El Barrio Húmedo", you can enjoy typical Spanish "tapas".

Other sights in the province are El Bierzo, renowned for its food and wines, the Roman gold mines of Las Médulas, and Astorga, with its own Roman ruins, cathedral, and bishop's palace designed by Antonio Gaudí. The province also offers wonderful mountain landscapes and excellent winter sports resorts. 

The Academic Program:

The Universidad de León is a relatively new university, incorporated in 1979, although the Facultad de Educación dates back to 1843. The main campus, called Vegazana, is where students have their classes and is located in the northern part of the city.  It has many new departments, all with modern facilities, including a new library with extensive holdings.  Holy Cross has an agreement with the entire University, allowing Holy Cross students to choose courses from any of the various departments. The Program Advisor is Dr. Mercedes Rueda Rueda of the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, under the direction of Dean Rafael Paz de Ureña, Director of Student Exchange.

Course Load:

Students take the equivalent of 8 Holy Cross semester courses. One of the courses is a mandatory year long Spanish language course designed especially for Holy Cross students. The class includes grammar, colloquialisms and conversation practice.

Courses taken at Universidad de León for Holy Cross credit (PDF)
Current Course Catalog

Independent Cultural Immersion Project (ICIP):

Successful completion of the ICIP, in addition to the required course load, is necessary.

Living Arrangements: 

All Holy Cross students are placed with families in León within a short commuting (bus) distance from the University. Breakfast and supper are taken with the family, Sunday excepted; lunch is available at very reasonable prices at University restaurants. 

Pre-University Language School:

The Holy Cross program in León includes four weeks of intensive language instruction at the Universidad de Navarra, in Pamplona, prior to the start of classes at the University of León. The course includes cultural material and excursions to area points of interest in and around Pamplona. 

Orientation to León:

During the first week, faculty advisors orient students to the structure of the university;
advise and guide them through course registration and acquaint them with University facilities.

Special notes: Pre-University Language Program courses will be recorded as 'overloads' and may not be used to make up a college deficiency.


All students studying abroad in Spain are required to obtain a Student Visa prior to departure.  The application process can be time consuming and must be done by the student. Note that you must process your visa at the Consulate with jurisdiction over the state where you permanently reside (which may differ from your summer address or college address). For a list of Spanish Consulates in the United States, follow this link. The Consulate requires that you submit several official documents in person, and this regulation can only be waived if a student's parent presents the application in place of the student. You (or your parent) may have to travel to the appropriate Consulate during the summer months to present documents, so you must make plans in advance.  Due to the overwhelming demand for student visas, the Consulate urges you to allow enough time for the application process. Students who arrive without a Visa must leave the country after three months and obtain a Visa. 

Students who reside in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, can obtain further information from the Consulate General of Spain in New York.  Students who reside in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine should consult the Consulate General of Spain in Boston.

Read Shannon Cain's '13 blog from León!

Study Abroad Contact Person:

Jimena Collingwood -  Assistant Director
Phone: 508-793-3090
Office: Smith 213