León, Guanajuato, Mexico: Capital of Footwear and Leather

Leon is the state capital and the largest city in a broad region in the middle of the country because of its thriving manufacturing, service, social, and tourism sectors.

León, Guanajuato, Mexico: Capital of Footwear and Leather
León, Guanajuato: The emerald of El Bajío region in Mexico. Credit: Industria dReuniones

Due to its great industrial, service, social, and tourist attractions, Leon has become the main city of the state and a large region in the center of the country.

In recent years, the city of León has become one of the most popular places for business meetings as well as regular tourists. This is because of its hotels, services, fairgrounds, restaurants, different attractions, and educational, cultural, and commercial centers, especially for shoes and leather goods.

It also draws an increasing number of visitors due to its excellent educational offerings, including the most universities per capita in the country, as well as research centers, institutions of high medical and diagnostic specialty, an auto parts industry, and an international airport with daily flights to several cities in the United States and various destinations throughout the country.

Although it is not the state's political capital, it is regarded as Guanajuato's social, commercial, and service "capital." The city bills itself as the "Capital of Footwear and Leather." León, officially León de los Aldama (in honor of Mexican revolutionaries Juan and Ignacio Aldama), is the capital of the municipality of the same name and has a population of slightly over one million 721 thousand residents, making it the country's sixth largest metropolis.

On January 20, 1546, Viceroy Martin Enriquez de Almansa established the Villa de León in the Valle de Nuestra Señora and on the banks of the Gómez River, a name given in honor of the Kingdom of León, where the representative of the Spanish Crown was from.

The large semi-arid plain and scorching climate of El Bajío, located in the country's geographic center, is five hours by car from the heart of Mexico City or 40 minutes by plane.

In addition to agriculture and livestock farming, with large extensions of lettuce plantations, it added overcoat manufacturing, which began to decline in the 1930s to turn around the productive chain of leather, footwear, supplies, and leather goods, although by the beginning of the twenty-first century it had reoriented its economy to services and the automotive industry.

Five zones of León, Guanajuato

The city is crossed from south to north by the Boulevard Adolfo Lopez Mateos, along which are five of the main zones into which the city is divided to facilitate the visit, according to the interest that leads to it: Zona Outlets, Conjunto Poliforum, Zona Piel, Centro Historico, and Zona Dorada.

The Poliforum Complex, one of the most complete and important fair and cultural centers in Mexico with an approximate area of 67 hectares, is divided into two parts: the first is the Guanajuato Cultural Forum, the Wigberto Jimenez Moreno State Library, the Guanajuato Museum of Art and History, the Bicentennial Theater, the Mateo Herrera Auditorium, the Explora Science Center, and the Lake Forum. The second is the Poliforum León, an international chain hotel, the Centro de Espectáculos, the Domo de la Feria, and the León Stadium.

Zona Piel, with its almost 80 hectares and located in front of the Bus Central, is a must for those looking for the best prices, quality, and design in all types of leather goods, footwear, and leather goods direct from manufacturers or wholesale distributors, with more than 4,000 points of sale, including squares, streets, passages, stores, and warehouses.

Aside from the Main Square and the Lions Fountain, historic civil and religious buildings in the Historic Center include the Municipal Palace, the former jail, the House of Culture, the City Museum, the Municipal Public and Antonio Torres libraries, the Mara Grever and Manuel Doblado theaters, the Cathedral Basilica and the Museum of Sacred Art, Expiatory Temple, Parish of the Sagrario, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Temple of San Juan de Dios, a tour that can begin from the Arch of the Heroes Causeway crowned with a bronze lion, the first symbol of the identity of the city, which calls the attention for lacking reproductive apparatus.

The Golden Zone (Zona Dorada) is home to several modern retail malls with brand-name stores, with more on the way, as well as chain hotels. Furthermore, the city has various parks, notably the Metropolitano, as well as sports facilities, golf clubs, and a zoo.


León was the first city in the country to implement an articulated public transit system, known as Optibus or "caterpillar," with three trunk lines in service since 2003, followed by Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Chihuahua. It also features the most comprehensive network of bicycle lanes in Latin America, which has earned it multiple international honors.

Leon, also known as "los esmeraldas" or "los panzas verdes", is the city's professional First Division soccer team. León is also the birthplace of notable people from different walks of life, including science, art, politics, athletics, music, and entertainment.