Leon, Mexico Meeting Planning Overview
Founded in 1576, today's Leon is one of Mexico's top five most populated and most important cities. It abounds in tourist attractions, from archeological sites to cathedrals, museums to city parks, theaters to modern restaurants. Since the early 20th century, Leon has experienced extraordinary industrial growth in leather production, agriculture, and livestock. Its more than 4,000 guest rooms spread among 42 hotel venues in Leon attest to the attraction and industry of this energetic and innovative colonial city.
The Guanajuato International Airport Del Bajio is a 22-mile drive from downtown Leon, with direct flights to 7 international cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.
Among the meeting venues in Leon is the world-class Convention Center Poliforum Leon, which hosts 100 national and international events annually, such as the World Youth Conference in 2010 and the International Tomato Congress. The center has flexible event spaces for 25 to 14,000 people, and 10 hotels within walking distance. The Poliforum offers 484,375 square feet of exhibition space and 55,972 square feet of event halls for conferences, spread out over 165 acres.
Located in central Mexico, in the state of Guanajuato, Leon is a strategic choice as a host city for fairs, expositions, conferences and conventions. Thanks to the state of Guanajuato's excellent highways, Leon is a short drive from the Mexican states of Jalisco, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Michoacan and the State of Mexico. It is less than five hours drive and a short 55-minute flight from Mexico City. A 30-minute drive from Leon is the city of Guanajuato, the state's capital, and a beautiful colonial town declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, perfect for pre- and post-stays, or even a day visit.
About Leon, Mexico / Additional Info
Leon is known as the shoe-and-leather capital of the world. In fact, its residents are known as the "Green Bellies," for the green stain of chemicals on their tanners' aprons from preparing the leather!
Before the arrival of the colonizing powers, Leon was inhabited by various indigenous groups, including the Toltecs, Chichimecas, and Guamares. Just outside of Leon, the remains of these ancient civilizations can be explored at archeological sites such as Ibarrilla and Alfaro, both from built in the Pre-Classic Mesoamerican era between 2,000 BC and 200 AD by the Chupicuaro people.
The city of Leon was founded in 1576 as Villa de Leon by the orders of viceroy Martin Enriquez de Almanza with the purpose of creating a defense against the Chichimecas. The city was then appointed "Corregidor" with royal jurisdiction over the surrounding areas. During the War of Independence between 1810 and 1830, Leon suffered many casualties as insurgent troops stormed the city various times to no avail. Until the arrival of Agustin de Iturbide in 1821, Leon remained part of New Spain. It wasn´t until 1825 that the city of Leon finally celebrate the annual Grito de Independencia celebrations, or "Cry of Independence."
Until the 18th century, Leon's main source of income was from agriculture, which was supplanted by shoe-making. During the 20th century, after the Mexico Revolution, Leon experienced continual economic and demographic growth, especially after the mines in the nearby city of Guanajuato were closed in 1928 and many workers migrated to Leon. The shoe-making industry has remained strong; Leon produces 60% of the shoes worn in Mexico.