It was ironic that the rain stopped as I walked through Burgos, and when I reached the small plaza on the east side, I saw my first patch of blue sky for the day. I was excited to arrive at the plaza. Not only was the cathedral a significant landmark, but by this time on the Camino de Santiago, after walking 300 kilometers (180 miles), I was starting to feel pretty good. If it wasn’t for that damn weather, things would have been great. Okay, enough about me and the weather. Let’s look at the feature of this post:
La Catedral de Burgos
Construction started on the Burgos Cathedral in 1221 and lasted for centuries, including a period of about 200 years where little progress was made. Since it was built over many centuries, numerous architects and artists contributed and ensured a diverse and rich ensemble of retablos, tapestries, paintings, carvings, and tombs. It was built during the time when Gothic architecture was prevalent, and was influenced by some of the French cathedrals. From the latter years of construction, other styles of architecture, such as Renaissance and Baroque, can be seen.
The Burgos Cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on October 31, 1984. It should be noted that it’s the only cathedral in Spain where the structure alone is the heritage site. For example, Santiago de Compostela’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation includes all of the old town.
Similar to my book, I don’t intend for this post to be an in depth history lesson. For more information please look at the following pages: Burgos Cathedral, UNESCO.org, Burgos Cathedral, Official site, Burgos Cathedral, Sacred Destinations. Of course, the best authority is Gitlitz & Davidson’s, The Pilgrimage Road To Santiago. Their coverage of the cathedral begins on page 177.
I left my last post, On The Camino de Santiago in Burgos, Spain, standing at the small plaza overlooking the east side of the cathedral. On this post, I’m going to take you around the cathedral, from east to west along the north side, before going inside. This is from the east side. The Condestable chapel is in the foreground.
Another chapel, a few steps further along the Camino.
The tympanum and statues at the north entrance, or Puerta de la Coroneria, were elegantly detailed. The façade is from the 13th century.
As I wrote on page 95, “I marveled at the exterior and noticed the main building on the west side was even grander.” The famous spires on the west, main building.
The west façade. The towers were finished in the mid-15th century.
These photos weren’t taken too well, but I hope they can show closer details of the west façade.
A statue of The Virgin is at the top-center while eight kings are situated below.
According to Gitlitz & Davidson on page 180 in The Pilgrimage Road To Santiago, the rose window’s six-pointed star is common in Gothic architecture.
The main entrance from the west plaza.
The elegant main entrance, the doors date to 1663.
Let’s go inside, but wait, we have to pay admission. For pilgrims, admission is a reasonably priced €2.50. For adults who are not pilgrims, the admission is €5. Much to my delight, lockers for backpacks were available and cost around €1. For more information, please check out the cathedral’s official website.
I must confess. When I visited the Burgos Cathedral as a pilgrim, I didn’t know I would be writing a book one day, let alone writing a blog. My notes are lacking, and I had trouble taking interior photos with my little Nikon. It’s best that I just display the photos I have with a brief description.
This was near the entrance (sorry, not really a description).
Tombs of alabaster and marble were throughout the cathedral. The most elegant ones were prominently displayed inside chapels. The cathedral has an incredible 15 chapels.
The beautiful double staircase with so many intricate details — an ensemble of art.
The cart at the bottom of the stairs, much of the upper portion in stunning sterling.
With all the chapels, there were also many retablos, each one also a piece of art. Masters of retablo architecture worked at the Burgos Cathedral. Here’s just a few.
The main retablo in the Capilla Mayor.
The Capilla Mayor.
This intricately detailed cloister was built during the 13th and 14th centuries, and held pieces of art including paintings and sculptures.
Tombs encased in stone were throughout the outside cloister.
I believe this tympanum was over one of the entrances to the outside cloister.
I can’t remember which room this was in. There were dozens of similar sculptures and scenes.
Very importantly, one of the many beautiful stained glass windows. This was one of my favourites.
The look from the west as I left the cathedral along the Camino.
I hope you enjoyed my visit to the Burgos Cathedral. As I wrote on page 95, “The cathedral was far more beautiful than I could have ever imagined…. I spent one and a half hours inside the cathedral, but I could have spent an entire day. It was incredible.” If you’re there, I recommend walking around the entire complex. There are a lot of stairs, but it’s well-worth your time. Again I wished my photos were better. Anyway, if you’re in Spain and have a chance, either as a pilgrim or a tourist, you should definitely visit. Better yet, if you could spend at least a full day there.
On my next post, On The Camino de Santiago In Spain, Burgos to Hornillos del Camino, after my lunch at a tapas bar, I continued walking out of Burgos and had my best weather in days. I really enjoyed my evening walk as I made my way into something notorious on the Camino — the Spanish meseta. I’ll talk about that next time.
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