The Burgos Cathedral is a masterwork of Gothic Architecture. Its layout resembles that of contemporary cathedrals in the north of France.
The first phase of construction took place between 1221 and 1293. Toward the middle of the 15th century, a set of further embellishments was made. An international team of architects and artists worked on the front spires, chapel and the choir in late Gothic style. Later on, Renaissance additions were made.
The cathedral is also the burial place of the Spanish national hero El Cid and his widow.
Map of Burgos CathedralLoad map
Burgos Cathedral was probably my favorite of the many cathedrals I saw on my trip to Spain this past May. The bright vaulted openness of the interior, and the exquisite design of its aisles and chapels made for a memorable visit. I was glad I went on a quiet weekday afternoon, since there were few visitors to distract as I wandered around staring at walls and ceilings. The cathedral offers an audio tour, which I recommend, since it helps give context to the Gothic and Rennaissance influences in the cathedral's architecture, such as the beautiful Chapel del Constable and the Golden Staircase, which serves to connect the main floor of the cathedral to the elevated street behind the cathedral. Burgos Cathedral was technically my first stop on the Route of Santiago de Compostela, and is inscribed twice on the World Heritage Site list as part of Spain's Camino Francés. Though the Burgos city center is not a World Heritage Site, it makes for a pleasant visit, and there are many tributes to local and national hero El Cid, who is buried in the cathedral.
Logistics: The cathedral is a short walk from the central bus station in Burgos, and makes for an easy stop when traveling between Madrid and cities in northern Spain, such as Bilbao.
UNique – 5/10
The impressive 88-meter twin towers of the Burgos cathedral not only dominate the landscape of the town but also represent one of the most significant Gothic buildings on the Iberian peninsula. While from the outside, it appears similar to many other significant cathedrals, like Reims, it is the inside decoration that really makes it stand out. The numerous chapels are individually decorated with Spanish Renaissance and Baroque elements.
ESsential – 6/10
The full inside tour of the cathedral takes several hours. For many people, the highlight of the tour is the impressive Golden staircase at the north transept of the cathedral. For me, however, it was fascinating to see the beautiful geometrical ceilings of the various chapels. It is clear that the Medieval donors have invested heavily into the decoration of the chapels, as they are adorned with elegant sculptures and paintings. Just when you think you are done with the tour of the cathedral you turn into the high cloister, which is brought to life with the colourful stained-glass windows.
COst-effective – 6/10
I will probably be a little biased on the cost-effectiveness of this site, as I managed to enter for free on a Tuesday after 16:30. The regular entry fee of €7 is definitely not small, however, it is somewhat justified by the extent of the collection of paintings and sculptures that it provides access to.
Read more from Yuri Samozvanov here.
I visited this WHS in May 2016. I stayed in Burgos for 3 days as it was my first resting point along the Camino Frances. It is the only cathedral in Spain which is solely inscribed as a WHS (without the rest of the historic centre). And rightly so; if you were to choose only one cathedral in Spain, make sure you visit this one as you won't regret it. Its gothic exterior is decorated with several facades, sculptures, gargoyles, statues, an octagonal tower, etc. and its sheer size alone is mindboggling. I visited at different times of the day and always found something new to gaze and marvel at. The original statues can be admired inside, just near the cloister, and they will help to grasp the immense size of this cathedral. In front of the main facade (picture) is a lovely fountain and just next to it, on the floor is the UNESCO WHS plaque which most miss while looking up at the cathedral spires. Just next to the Church of St Nicholas, again on the floor, lies the only UNESCO WHS plaque in Spanish commemorating the Camino's inscription. I would recommend a visit of the cathedral's interior with a complimentary informative audio guide but you'll have to allow at least an hour or two to take in the never ending chapels, retablos, stucco, ceilings, tombs, etc. My favourite highlights were the Gothic staircase and the Renaissance Golden Staircase, the Gothic Plateresque dome and the Papamoscas statue. I would recommend visiting first thing in the morning to beat the crowds, while a short walk uphill to the castillo in the evening will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of Burgos and its cathedral. This is definitely one of Spain's best WHS.
Visited as teenager in 60s by steam train, before the 'clean-up'. Quiet enough then for kids to play in the street and Spanish enough for them to think my red hair was amusing!
I remember the cathedral seemed to be hemmed in by, presumably later though still ancient, buildings and my having a great deal of difficulty in framing a pic of the facade, even with my 6x6 Rolliecord 5b! In the dusk honey/rose glow people in the streets appeared as silhouttes against the glowing stone. As you can tell, the experience never left me. Am returning in the near future for another fix
I had only an hour to spare before my flight back home but thought that that would be just enough to see another cathedral. The first noticeable aspect of the area is the marvellous town gate Arco de Santa Maria. It gives entrance to the square where the cathedral is situated.
The Burgos Cathedral itself is an enormous complex, built over several centuries. There was a long queue for the ticket office, so I just walked an entire round around the cathedral (quite a hike, on various levels).
When I arrived back at the entrance, the queue, fortunately, had gone so I did get in eventually. There are lots of chapels, each with its own kind of decoration. My favourite part of the building was the 16th-century Golden Staircase.
Burgos is a town busy with tourists and pilgrims alike. The city looks pleasant enough, so to other visitors, I would suggest touring the nearby Atapuerca WHS during the day and staying overnight in Burgos.
virgin island US - 09-Sep-08 -
Burgos Cathedral is one of the Spaniard historical events and places the old church that unite the people of Spain. A lot of wonders and miracle happen in this church the Catholic are the dominant religion in Spain, I love the design of the church and art.
Burgos Cathedral at night is one of the most beautiful sights for me. Luminated, it looks almost magical... I also love the fact that its interior is a combination of many different architecture styles. Finally, the chaphel of Christ of Burgos is deeply serene...
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