Burgos

Burgos was founded in 884, and its historical heritage is always evident to the visitor. It is a monumental city, charming for the so typical Medieval Northern Castilian ambience. It currently hosts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Cathedral Santa María of Burgos, the Trail of St. James, and the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca. Along with other important monuments such as the Cartuja de Miraflores or the Monastery of Las Huelgas Burgos surely is a very attractive city for tourism.

In general, Burgos is a quiet, peaceful and clean city you may visit by foot or bike. There are many town squares (“plazas”), long avenues with stretches of green corridors and parks. Do not forget to go sightseeing along the Arlanzón River, a classic afternoon walk among locals. You may also want to try out Burgos’ exquisite cuisine that made the city the Spanish Gastronomical Capital in  2013.

Also, you should try to get out-and-about around the countryside,, where you will find many villages of extraordinary historical-artistical value.

BRIEF HISTORY

The Arlanzón Valley has been an ideal setting for human settlers since the beginning of time, as evidenced by, the Atapuerca Archeological Site, considered  the birthplace of the  European. The human remains found in the area are over 800,000 years old. In this area, bordering the River,  there used to be Pre-Roman settlements as well.

The first bits of information we can find about Burgos as a city go back to the year 884, when it is believed that the Count Diego Rodriguez Porcelos founded it under the orders of  King Alfonso III. The Kings’ intentions were to establish a fortress in order to stop the enemy’s advance, the Saracens.

The city’s geographical situation,at the crossroad of major routes and at the centre of the Trail of St. James, facilitated its speedy growth. In the X century, Burgos was already a relevant city of Castilla and a vital key piece in the Renaissance. Important figures in those days were Fernán Gómez y Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid Campeador(the most popular son of Burgos around the Globe).

The XI century brings with it a downfall in the military relevance of the city, which begins to shine for its trade thanks to the Trail of St. James and its connection with the Northern Ports. In 1075, Burgos becomes the Religious Capital, which facilitated the construction of Monasteries.

In the XIII Century, the old Roman Cathedral is taken down and the construction of the current Cathedral begins in 1221. It is an outstanding Gothic element in the city and one of the most beautiful cathedrals around the World.The Huelgas Reales Monastery is also built around the same time.

The Golden Days of Burgos were the XV and XVI centuries, during the reign of the Catholic Kings. A variety of great palaces were built, such as the Casa Del Cordón. During those days, the city reaches  25,000 citizens, Despite this boom and mainly due to the new trade established with the New World. Burgos loses a lot of its relevance by 1575. Halfway through the XVII century, the Plague and famine take the number of citizens down to 4,500.

In the XVIII Century, the city shows signs of improvement and by the XIX Century, after the occupation of the city by the French: Burgos begins to acquire its current geography and stature. In the XX century the first industries begin to appear in the city and in the 60’s, the city’s’ industrial area is created, basically bringing the city back to life.

THREE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral

The Cathedral Santa María of Burgos is one of the masterpieces of the Spanish Gothic ArchitectureIt is also the only cathedral in Spain  independently declared “Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO, without being related to a historical center such as the Cathedral of Toledo or accompanied by other buildings, such as the Cathedral of Seville.

Construction began in 1221 over an old Romanesque cathedral, built between 1080 and 1095, in the area occupied by the Palace of the Kings of Castile  which had become too small. Their impellers were King Ferdinand III of Castile and Bishop Mauricio, who after his trip to France and Germany to arrange the marriage of the monarch with Beatriz de Suabia, was impressed by the great French Gothic temples , bringing with him the first Foreman for of the cathedral.

The Cathedral, completed in 1567, is a comprehensive example of the evolution of the Gothic style, with the entire history of the Gothic Art exhibited in its superb architecture and unique collection of art, including paintings, choir stalls, reredos, tombs, and stained-glass windows.

More information: http://catedraldeburgos.es/

Camino de Santiago (The Trail of St James)

Camino de Santiago (The Trail of St James)

The Trail of St James, or St James’ Way, often known by its Spanish name the Camino de Santiago, is a pilgrimage  trail to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in north-westernmost Spain, where the Apostle St James the Great is said to be laid to rest.

Since the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle St. James, there are lots of pilgrims that have walked through the same paths and forests with the same motivation: to get to the Santiago’s Cathedral.
It is one of the most important Christian Pilgrimages since Medieval times and it has existed for over 1000 years. It was considered one of Three Major Pilgrimages on which all sins could be forgiven – the others being the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Nowadays, each year thousands of Christian and non-Christian pilgrims and hickers  set out from their homes, or from popular starting points across Europe on this challenging yet rewarding hike towards Santiago de Compostela. The most popular route is the French Way or Camino Francés on which most pilgrims start from either Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees or from Roncesvalles on the Spanish side.

More information: https://www.caminodesantiago.gal/en/inicio

Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

Atapuerca archaeological sites

What started as a mine railway to transport iron and coal riches from late 19th century mines, led to the discovery of a set of palaeoanthropological sites right at the heart of this Sierra, a place  of unique  chronology and importance.

It is one of the World’s largest archaeo-paleontological complexes due to its importance and the uniqueness of, discoveries and the concentration of more than 1.5 million years of Human Evolution linked to Eurasia in an area covering barely 12 km². The Sierra de Atapuerca contains unique remains of the World’s fossil record (a new human species, Homo antecessor and over 90% of the known remains of Homo heidelbergensis), a unique multidiciplinary research team and  Eurasia’s oldest known human remains.

More information: https://www.atapuerca.org/

WHAT ELSE CAN WE VISIT IN BURGOS?

Top sights in Burgos

Arco de Santa María

The Arco de Santa María is one of the most emblematic monuments in Burgos. In the Middle Ages it was one of the old twelve gates to the city. This gate, conceived as a great triumphal arch, connects the Santa María bridge with the Plaza del Rey San Fernando, where the Cathedral stands.

Inside the Arch you can access the Sala de Poridad, the meeting place of the old Municipal Council. This room houses various curiosities:  a bone of the Cid Campeador, a reproduction of the sword Tizona del Cid among various other things…. In this room there is an access to the outer tower from where you can see beautiful views of the city.

On the upper floor of the Arco de Santa María there is an interesting collection of the “Botamen” (set of old pharmacy containers) that comes from the now defunct Hospital de San Juan, whose apothecary was one of the most important in the country.

More information: http://www.aytoburgos.es/turismo-en-burgos/descubre-burgos/arco-de-santa-maria/arco-de-santa-maria

Cartuja de Miraflores

Located in the  peaceful woodlands 4km east of the City Centre, it is one of the most interesting monuments from the end of the European Gothic period. Situated on an old Royal Palace, this monastery was founded in the 15th century as a Royal Pantheon. The alabaster sepulchres of the Kings of Castile, John II and Isabella of Portugal, and of Infante Alfonso, (parents and brother of Isabella I of Castile) are located in the centre of the Head of the church of La Cartuja, under the great altarpiece decorated with the gold brought by Christopher Columbus from his second trip to The Americas. Built between 1489 and 1493, they form one of the most extraordinary funerary ensembles of all European Gothic sculpture.

More information: https://www.cartuja.org/iglesia-y-exposiciones/horarios-y-contacto

Monasterio de las Huelgas

Located about a 30-minute walk west of the City Centre on the southern river bank, this monastery was once among the most prominent in Spain. Founded in 1187 by Eleanor of Aquitaine, daughter of Henry II of England and wife of Alfonso VIII of Castilla, is still home to 35 Cistercian nuns. This veritable Royal Pantheon contains the tombs of numerous kings and queens, as well as a spectacular gilded Renaissance Altar. The highlight, though, is the Museo de Ricas Telas, reached via a lovely Romanesque cloister and containing bejewelled robes and royal garments.

More Infomation: https://entradas.patrimonionacional.es/en-GB/informacion-recinto/18/sta-maria-real-huelgas

Castle

The hill of the Castle is witness of the history of Burgos from its origins.
The Castle dates back to the time of Count Diego Porcelos, founder of the city of Burgos in 884. Burgos lived under the protective mantle of a walled enclosure that safeguarded the first settlers from incursions by Muslim armies.

Throughout history this castle served  as a place to house kings and infants, prison and gunpowder factory , among other uses.
If you wish to visit the remnants of the fortress destroyed by Napoleon’s troops at the beginning of the 19th century, you can access the enclosure, walls, well and underground galleries.

Nowadays, the Castle Interpretation Centre has become an essential point as it features both the visit to the city of Burgos due to a double condition of an extensive natural space and a historical monument.
From the Mirador del Castillo you can contemplate the entire Historic Centre of the city, with the Burgos Cathedral on the foreground.

More information: http://www.aytoburgos.es/turismo-en-burgos/descubre-burgos/horarios-de-visita-de-monumentos/castillo-de-burgos

Iglesia de San Esteban

The Iglesia de San Esteban, located just west of the Cathedral, was built over an earlier Romanesque style church during, in the last third of the 13th century and first half of the 14th. It has an unusual porch and a museum “Museo del Retablo” with a display of some 18 altars dating from the 15th to 18th centuries.
Under a massive tower, there is a doorway from the end of the 13th century, framed by a pointed arch, with three archivolts with images of saints, next to jambs in which there are “statue-columns”, while in the tympanum we find scenes dedicated to Christ and Saint Stephen. Above it there is a large rosette in which influences from the Cathedral can be traced.
San Esteban is the only church, among the parishes of Burgos, which has a 14th century cloister, where important families of the time are buried.

More information: https://www.inspain.org/es/burgos/burgos/iglesia-de-san-esteban

Palacio de Capitanía

The Palacio de Capitanía stands on the site of the former “Palacio de las Cuatro Torres”, which was one of the most notable stately homes of the 15th century after the Casa del Cordón.

The current building was designed in 1903 by the municipal architect Saturnino Martínez. According to its military character, it has battlements. Above the balcony you can see the coats of arms of Spain and those of  the city of Burgos. The building contains five doors, a staircase, a central courtyard and a Throne Room.

The square it presides  was the scene of the upheaval experienced during the years Burgos became Spain’s National Capital during the Civil War.
It currently houses the Military Historical Museum of Burgos.
More information: http://www.ejercito.mde.es/unidades/Madrid/ihycm/Museos/burgos.html

Menu