The images of Holy Week and San Froilán in León 80 years ago


Climb the stairs of this mystery, dear readers, to look out onto the terrace of our city, observing from the sky, from the roof of the Alfageme Building, how development has accompanied León during its long evolution.

Just two days ago, my urban counterpart, the Flâneur, recounted the history of the Alfageme family, which I invite you to learn about for its historical and sentimental value, Rafael being the present protagonist of a nucleus already mostly far from León.

View of the Colegio de los Agustinos from the roof of the Alfageme Building. ca.1944.


After contacting Rafael, he informed me that his uncles and his mother, children of the Alfageme couple, had been the main protagonists of the snapshots, recognizing his direct family in them.

Today let’s approach the balustrade that separates dream from , and see, through the camera lens, how the people of León looked at a city that never stopped growing around them.

In these photographs, oriented towards the back of the building, we recognize the famous Augustinians, which were demolished years later. As you will see, at this time, Casa Alfageme only has three floors, and not five, as will later be corrected, starting in 1956, when the building will be raised.

To the right of the image, opening the plane a little more, we clearly recognize the tower of San Isidoro and, to its left, a current building that is still standing today and that marks the Avenida de San Marcos on the map of our orientation.

San Froilán Festival. ca.1944.


Let’s leave the building for a brief period to encounter the quintessential festival in León: San Froilán, which takes place at the beginning of October. With the decorated cars, the gentlemen and ladies go out for a stroll through León.

Note, in the first instance, that this location is the Plaza de las Palomas, or the Plaza de San Marcelo, long before it was decorated with two heights and the Ben i Mea Mosque was lost.

San Foilán. San Marcelo Square.


It was not the only thing that was lost that day in 1971, because according to archaeological studies, the works were carried out without sufficient permits, excavating in the land already inhabited by the Romans and losing several of the remains of the era that ended. in the municipal landfill.

Due to the evolution of architecture in León, it could well date from the 1940s or 1950s, since between 1968 and 1970 the fourth height of the tower of the Palacio de los Guzmanes, at that time non-existent and demolished, was finally raised.

Decked out cars.

Rafael Martín Alfageme.

San Froilán and decorated cars. Colored by Intelligence.

We now rescue the testimony of Almudena, that girl who looked out at her favorite Lion. She said that the festival of San Froilán was a milestone in León in the 1940s. That the elegance with which the gentlemen dressed and waited at the door for their wives, exceeded all the expectations placed on the event. It places special emphasis on the way the women dress: during the three or four days, the streets were a stage, long skirts of many colors, a large scarf at the back tied with a knot in front, a fallen bun, coral tendrils, very bright blouses. wide and long sleeves. But what caught Almudena’s attention the most were the aprons, satin, of a single tone, which did not overshadow the colorful look of the skirts.

We now enter the favorite corner of many devotees. You will have already sensed that this Odonist is very far from the first meaning of the term little chapel, so he apologizes if he mistakes any concept or does not know how to correctly name the steps. From the Modern Printing Office, looking out onto the balcony, we assume, of what was then the Old Town Hall of León, the people of León observed Holy Week.

Legión VII Street during the Good Friday procession.



Woman leaning out of the balcony with a crucifix in her hand. Legion VII during Good Friday procession. Lion

Thousands of people crowded the sidewalks to experience, first-hand, the religious image, the drums, the music and the footsteps of the Papons, who paid tribute to their devotion. From the ground, the spectacle was perfect, but from above, sublime.

Image from the window of the Old Town Hall towards Legion VII. ca.1944.


As has already been said, the photograph is taken either from the window furthest from the center of the Modern Printing Office, or from the window closest to it at the León City Hall. Therefore, the street that we observe is, as it could not be otherwise, Calle Legión VII, in some points we can also see Hospital Street.

The Nazarene during Good Friday.

We have already known its history in many other articles, but, at that time, very close to the center of the century, the street had barely been baptized as such, since it previously bore the name of the 13-meter street, in honor to its width. On the other hand, Hospital Street never really existed, since both were hidden inside what was once the San Antonio Abad Hospital.

Good Friday Procession. AC. 1944.


And in the background of the image, an establishment that many will already know. The famous Simeon stores, which today have been reused by a well-known gift and souvenir brand. The building whose scrolls we see is the famous Roldán, which is already celebrating a century of history.

Paco Sanz’s chalet from the roof of Casa Alfageme.


Climbing up again to the roof of Casa Alfageme, we contemplate, from the heights of the third floor, looking out at the plume that emerges from its crown, the vision of Ordoño II Avenue. In its center, as we saw last week: Paco Sanz’s chalet, which extends almost to the Pícara Justina. You can see, on the left, a tall pine tree that could well have belonged to Sanz’s plot.

The hills of León from the roof of the Casa Algamene.


To the left, the hills, or the Portillo, through which you access the towns of Sobarriba. This panorama is beautiful, since today it would be impossible to see the horizon from the center of León, due to the number of emblematic buildings that fill our vision.

Recreation of the place from which the photographs are taken.

Finally, like an excited child, we look out at the porthole that adorns the upper part of the Alfageme Building. We introduce our camera through it to carefully take the photograph that indicates the exact position of the interested, curious and daring photographer.

We now say goodbye to these snapshots, which have brought us so much joy, to finally return the negatives to their owners, who are the legitimate possessors of them. Thanks to them, and their permission, we have shared with all of you, the readers, the story of some unpublished images that are already part of the cultural collection of León. I am infinitely grateful to Rafael for his collaboration and his diligence. This Odonist is left speechless by the trust placed in this writer by Pedro, who has believed in the illusion that flows through the veins of a passionate researcher, who seeks to know the most unknown corners of León. This article is dedicated to my good friends: Pedro and Rafael to whom I owe the privilege of having become entangled in the exciting story that surrounds these photographs.

This Odonist says goodbye with pleasure, urging the residents of León to know their past, through the only physical vestige that remains after the passage of time. Today we are privileged, as we have information that our ancestors were never able to possess. His face, blurred in time, will allow us to find the recipe to interpret the passage of the years, revealing the history of this beautiful city.



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