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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Burgos

Burgos, famous for its magnificent cathedral, was capital of Old Castile in the 10th and 11th centuries.

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Cathedral of Santa María

A striking Gothic Cathedral built from white limestone, the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Burgos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Around the Cathedral

Santa Agueda

Outside the west front of the cathedral is a small square with a fountain, the Plaza de Santa María. On the far side of the square is Calle Santa Agueda, with the Early Gothic church of Santa Agueda, in which Alfonso VI swore in presence of the Cid that he had not murdered his brother Sancho II.

San Nicolás

From the Plaza de Santa María a flight of steps leads up to the 15th century church of San Nicolás (completely restored in 1911), facing the west corner of the cathedral. This has fine vaulting and some notable tombs, but its principal treasure is the sumptuous high altar by Francisco de Colonia (1505), with polychrome alabaster reliefs of Old and New Testament scenes involving no fewer than 465 figures.
Address: Calle San Esteban, E-09080 Burgos, Spain

San Esteban

Northeast of San Nicolás is the Gothic church of San Esteban (1280-1350), with a richly sculptured west doorway, a beautiful rose window and an Early Gothic cloister.

Remains of Fortifications

Castillo

Going north from San Esteban, through the Mudéjar-style Arco de San Esteban, and turning left along the old town walls (begun 1276), we come to the Castillo (destroyed by fire in 1736), from the ramparts of which there are fine views.

Solar del Cid

Below the south side of the castle ruins, at the west end of Calle Fernán González, are three stone pillars marking the site of the Solar del Cid, the ancestral home of his family. Close by is the 14th century Arco de San Martín, a gate in the old town walls running southwest from the Castillo. Continuing down the wall towards the south and turning left, we come into the Paseo de los Cubos, named after the semicircular towers (cubos) set at intervals along the walls - a fine example of Castilian military engineering.

Palacio de la Isla

In the park opposite the Paseo is the Palacio de la Isla, which was the seat of the Nationalist government during the Civil War.

Paseo del Espolón

The Paseo del Espolón, the favorite promenade of the people of Burgos, extends along the Río Arlanzón from the Puente de Santa María to the Puente de San Pablo, shaded by plane-trees and lined with cafes and shops. It is rather quieter in the gardens parallel with the Paseo on the banks of the river. Here visitors will see sights unusual in a city - the river flowing quietly by between meadowland and banks of reeds, frogs croaking their noisy concert, perhaps even a shepherd driving his sheep along the meadows.

Arco de Santa María

Arco de Santa Maria 1632
At the near end of the Paseo, opposite the Puente de Santa María, is the Arco de Santa María (originally 14th century, rebuilt in 1552), a massive town gate flanked by two semicircular towers, best seen from the bridge over the Arlanzón. The entrance to the town is guarded by statues of Castilian heroes and kings: in the center of the lower row is Diego Porcelos, the town's founder, flanked by Nuño Rasura and Lain Calvo, the first judges of Castile, and in the upper row (from right to left) the Cid, the Emperor Charles V and Count Fernán González. Through the arch is the Plaza del Rey San Fernando, on the south side of the cathedral.

Puente de San Pablo

Puente de San Pablo 1634
The Paseo ends at the Puente de San Pablo, which is decorated with statues of Castilian heroes. Opposite the north end of the bridge is the Plaza Primo de Rivera, dominated by a heroic equestrian statue of the Cid.

Around the Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor 1627
A little way east of the cathedral and just off the Paseo del Espolón can be found the arcaded Plaza José Antonio or Plaza Mayor, which ranks with the cathedral as one of the main centers of the city's life. On the south side of the square is the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), built in 1791, which also houses the Municipal Archives.

San Gil

North of the Plaza Mayor, reached through narrow lanes, is the 14th century church of San Gil, with stellar vaulting. It has a 15th Century Pietà, several fine tombs and, in the Capilla de la Natividad, a retablo by Felipe Vigarny.

Casa del Cordón

In Plaza Calvo Sotelo, to the east of the Plaza Mayor, is the Casa del Cordón, a house built in 1482-92 for the Constable of Castile. The name comes from the cordón, the girdle worn by Franciscan friars, which features in the decoration over the doorway. In this house Columbus was received by the Catholic Monarchs in 1497 after his return from his second voyage to the New World; here too Philip I died in 1506; and here the French king Francis I was held prisoner after the battle of Pavia in 1525.

San Lesmes

San Lesmes 1635
Farther east of the Plaza Mayor, in the Plaza San Juan, is the church of San Lesmes (14th-15th C.), which has a number of Late Gothic tombs and altars.

Museo Marceliano Santa María

In a former Benedictine abbey opposite San Lesmes can be seen a collection of pictures by the Burgos-born Impressionist painter Marceliano Santa María (1866-1952).
Address: Plaza San Juan, E-09004 Burgos, Spain

Monasterio de las Huelgas

Monasterio de las Huelgas 1630
The Monasterio de las Huelgas was originally a country residence of the kings of Castile (huelga = "repose, relaxation"), which Alfonso VIII converted into a Cistercian convent for ladies of the highest rank in 1187 at the request of his wife Eleanor, daughter of Henry II of England. The convent was also to be the place of burial of the kings of Castile.

Church

The Gothic church, built in the undecorated style of the Cistercians in 1248, contains in the Coro de los Capillanos, in the center of the nave, the tomb of Alfonso and Eleanor, with kneeling figures of the king and queen. In the south transept, in which the infantes were buried, is the tomb of Alfonso X's eldest son Fernando de la Cerda. The gilded pulpit could be turned to face either the choir or the nave, which were separated by the rood screen, so that either the nuns or the ordinary faithful, according to circumstances, could hear mass. The transept contains fine Beauvais tapestries.
Medieval Tomb Garments of the Spanish Royalty make up some of the key pieces of the collection.
Address: Calle Compás de Adentro, E-09080 Burgos, Spain

Sala Capitular

In the chapterhouse, which opens off one of the Romanesque cloisters, are a banner captured from the Moors in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and four Turkish standards taken in the battle of Lepanto (1571), as well as tapestries and various sacred objects.

Museum of Fabrics

This Museum of Fabrics displays a unique collection of garments and fabrics found in sarcophagi in the church.

St James's Chapel

In Alfonso VIII's palace, reached by way of another Romanesque cloister with plant capitals, is the Capilla de Santiago, which has a figure of the saint with a movable arm holding a sword. This is said to have been used for the knighting of royal personages, including the future king Edward I of England.

Hospital del Rey

Some 2km/1.25mi northwest of Las Huelgas is the Hospital del Rey, a hospice for pilgrims traveling on the Way of St. James founded by Alfonso VIII. It has a fine Plateresque doorway of 1526.

Cartuja de Miraflores

Cartuja de Miraflores 1615
The Cartuja de Miraflores, situated on a wooded hill to the east of Burgos, was a Carthusian house founded by King John II and intended as a burial place for himself and his wife Isabella of Portugal. After being destroyed by fire in 1452 it was rebuilt by Juan de Colonia and his son Simón. The plain Gothic exterior of the church contrasts with the sumptuous furnishings of the interior, notably the large gilded high altar by Gil de Siloé and Diego de la Cruz and the alabaster tomb of John and Isabella (also by Gil de Siloé), one of the richest of its kind in Spain. In a recess in the north wall is the alabaster tomb of the Infante Alfonso (d. 1468), decorated with luxuriant arabesques. The Capilla de San Bruno has a statue of the saint by Manuel Pereira.

Surroundings

Monasterio de Santo Domingo de SilosMonasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos

Covarrubias, Spain

Covarrubias 1617
Leave Burgos on N I and turn left into the Soria road (N 234), which runs southeast by way of Cuevas de San Clemente to Hortigüela, where a road branches off on the right to Covarrubias (40km/25mi from Burgos). This was the capital of a principality which under Fernán González rose to become the kingdom of Castile and played the decisive role in the Reconquista. There are remains of the town's old fortifications, notably the massive Torreón de Doña Urraca (10th C.).

Collegiate Church

The fine collegiate church (12th C.) contains a triptych of the Three Kings, probably by Gil de Siloé, and numerous tombs of infantes and abbots, including those of Fernán González and his wife, and Princess Cristina of Norway, daughter of Haakon IV, who married the Infante Felipe in 1258. In the sacristy is the parish museum, with fine sculpture, goldsmith's work and pictures by Metsys, Jan van Eyck, Berruguete, El Greco and Zurbarán.

Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos

The church of the benedictine monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos.
From Covarrubias BU 902 runs south to join BU 903, which leads east to the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos. The monastery, believed to have been founded in 593 by the Visigothic king Reccared, was destroyed by the Moors but was rebuilt by Santo Domingo, who was abbot from 1047 to 1073. The two-story cloister has magnificent carved capitals decorated with fabulous beasts, lions, stags, eagles and other birds and rich arabesques. At each corner of the cloister are two reliefs on New Testament themes. The Mudéjar ceiling of the lower cloister has paintings of scenes from medieval life, depicting a variety of musical instruments. In the north gallery is the tomb of Santo Domingo.
Address: Santo Domingo de Silos, E-09610 Burgos, Spain

Santo Domingo de Silos - Museum

Among the principal treasures displayed in the museum are a Romanesque sculpture group, manuscripts, Mozarabic music books, filigree work, including a 12th century chalice, and ivories. The 18th century pharmacy displays a fine collection of drug jars in Talavera faience and the pharmacy library of 387 volumes. The main monastery library has 40,000 volumes.

Quintanilla de las Viñas

At Quintanilla de las Viñas, 36km/22mi southeast of Burgos, just off N 234, is the Visigothic hermitage church of Santa María de Lara (seventh-eighth C.), with an unusual triple frieze of bas reliefs on the outer walls.

Lerma, Spain

35km/22mi from Burgos on the Madrid road is the ancient little town of Lerma (alt. 752m/2,467ft), which was founded in the eighth century. The old town with its circuit of walls and collegiate church, situated on a hill above the Río Arlanza, can be seen from a long way off. Lerma owed its prosperity to Philip III's favorite the Duke of Lerma, who embellished it in the 17th century. The old town is entered through a massive gate flanked by two round towers, from which there is a steep climb to the large square on the far side of which is the imposing palace of the Dukes of Lerma, built in 1614 by Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios. To the left, past the Town Hall, are steps leading up to the wall-walk, from which there are extensive views of the countryside of Castile, with the Río Arlanzón flowing through it. At the western tip of the old town stands the collegiate church (1616), in which can be found the bronze tomb of Bishop Cristóbal de Rojas of Seville.

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