Burgos, one of the nine provinces of the Autonomous Community
of Castile and Leon, is the second largest with its 14,328
sq. km. 60% of the total of almost 370,000 inhabitants live
in three main towns: Burgos with 160,000, Miranda de Ebro and
Aranda de Duero.
It lies in the northern meseta and its waters
are carried into the Atlantic of the Mediterranean Sea by
the rivers Duero, Ebro and Cadagua. Its scenery is a mixture
barren land, mountains and valleys, a representative combination
of inland Spain.
The Capital - At the Head of Castile
The most outstanding monument in Burgos is the cathedral,
which is on the World Heritage List and one of the jewels of
universal Gothic architecture. It was begun in 1221, and its
nave and two aisles, the ambulatory and the portals of El Sarmental
and Coroneria date from that century. The cloister and old
chapter-house date from the 14th C, while John of Cologne's
spires, the chapels of La Visitación, Santa Ana and
especially of El Condestable are from the 15th C. Juan de Vallejo's
magnificent lantern, the chapels of La Consolation, Santiago
and Navidad and Diego de Siloe's Golden Stairs are from the
16th C. A thorough visit brings to light its display of art
and the incidental presence of El Papamoscas. Below the lantern
lie the remains of El Cid, the legendary Burgos hero.
Especially eye-catching in the city are the Gothic churches
of Santa Agueda, where El Cid took Alfonso VI's historic oath,
San Estéban, San Gil, San Lesmes, San Nicolás
de Bari with the stone retable (or reredos) by Francis of Cologne,
and Nuestra Señora la Real y Antigua de Gamonal.
Las Huelgas Monastery, which was founded by Alfonso VIII,
has a royal pantheon, is one of the most powerful in Castile
and is beautiful from the point of view of art and architecture.
In addition, it has a museum of rich medieval fabrics. The
upper cloister of the former Monastery of San Juan houses the
Museum of Marcelino Santamaría, A Burgos painter who
painted Castilian landscapes with a masterly touch.
Among the civil buildings, El Rey Hospital, founded by Alfonso
VIII for the pilgrims on their way to Santiago, still preserves
an attractive inner court called Patio de Romeros. In the 15th
C El Cordón House, Felipe el Hermoso died and the Catholic
Monarchs received Columbus after his return from his second
voyage. The Provincial Museum with sections of archaeology
and medieval art are housed in beautiful Renaissance buildings.
Also preserved are remains of the castle, once an important
medieval fortress, sections of the wall and the arches of Santa
María, remodeled as a triumphal arch in honour of Carlos
I, San Estéban, which is Mudéjar, and San Martín,
which stands next to what is called Solar del Cid, where, as
legend has it, the house of the Castilian hero used to stand.
Life in Burgos centres around El Espolón boulevard,
while La Isla boulevard has architectural remains from different
places. 4 km beyond La Quinta boulevard and Fuente del Prior
Park stands the Charterhouse of Miraflores, built at the behest
of Isabel, the Catholic Monarch. It houses important works
of art by Gil de Siloe. About six km from there, beyond Fuentes
Blancas Park, we find San Pedro de Cárdena Monastery
which is connected with the life of El Cid whose remains lay
buried there until they were moved to the capital.
Burgos and the Pilgrim's way to Santiago
Burgos played an important role on the Way to Santiago. Along
almost 1120 km pilgrims at all times found hospitality and
help. Places such as Redecilla del Camino, Belorando, Villafranca
Montes de Oca, San Juan de Ortega, Burgos (which had as many
as 33 hospitals and one of the most important ones along the
Way: El Hospital del Rey), Hornillos del Camino or Castrojériz
were milestones on the Way and became famous far beyond de
Towns and villages steeped in History
The province of Burgos is beautiful and full of variety. In
proof of its wealth, some figures: at present, there are 34
complexes and 119 monuments of historical or artistic interest
which are under official protection.
Briefly, in the north there are Espinosa de los Monteros and
the Mena valley with good Romanesque buildings. Las Merindades
include the monumental site of Medina de Pomar, Villarcayo
and Valdivieso valley, as well as good Romanesque examples.
The area around Sedano is an attractive combination of scenery
and small rural centers. In the extensive La Bureba region,
especially outstanding are Briviesca, the capital, and on its
northern side Poza de la Sal and Oña. Frías is
a lovely village below a rock castle. Around Miranda de Ebro,
Pancorbo, Santa Gadea del Cid or El Condado de Treviño
are additional finds.
Towards the west, there are places which are proud of their
splendid churches, Villahoz, Mahamud, Santa María del
Campo and Sasamón are good examples.
In the basin of the Arlanza, we discover Covarrubias, the
Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos and Lerma. The region of
Lara is captivating with memories of Fernán González
and Visigothic Quintanilla de las Viñas. The mountain
area, abounding in wood, high-medieval necropolises and beautiful
countryside, also has a capital: Salas de los Infantes.
In the south, finally, La Ribera, thhe land of wine and lamb,
centering around Aranda de Duero with places such as Roa, Peñaranda
de Duero, La Vid Monastery or the Roman ruins of Clunia.
Hunting, Shooting and Fishing in Burgos
The geographical features of the province and the low population
density in the rural areas encourage game species to proliferate.
Wild boar is found in the oak, holm oak and beech forests of
any Burgos mountainside. Apart from in other areas, Roe deer
is commonly found in the National Game Preserve of "Sierra
de la Demanda" (surface area: 73,819 ha). There are 787
private shootings which include 87% of the surface area of
the province as well as the game club reserves of Peral de
Arlanza and Villafruela, where partridge, quail, hare, rabbit
and duck may be shot.
After the disappearance of the exquisite river crab, common
trout has become the most important fresh water species. There
are 800 km of trout fishing and fishsing rights along 250km
of the Orduente reservoirs and the Upper Neila Lagoons.
Fiestas, celebrations and festive-religious excursions (Romerias)
Many of the celebrations are varied, but unknowns. Three of
them are classified as "of interest to tourists",
though there are other which are no less attractive. The former
are San Juan del Monte in Miranda de Ebro on Whit Sunday and
Monday, "El Colacho" in Castrillo de Murcia on the
sunday after Corpus Christi and El día de las Peñas
(lit. Day of the Circles of Friends) in Burgos on the first
Sunday in July.
Cuisine in Burgos
Burgos cooking consists of carefully and well prepared dishes.
Especially outstanding is roast lamb, which is served everywhere
in the province, but above all along the river Duero; the
tasty olla podrida, i.e. chickpea stew; different kinds of
garlic soup; Burgos-style lentils; minced pork or Castile-style
Famous items are the piquant sausages (i.e. chorizos)
from Vilarcayo; black pudding; fresh - or Burgos - and sheep-milk
cheese; the white beans from Ibeas and Belorado; as well
as the butter from Espinosa de los Monteros. Desserts and sweet
dishes include the almonds from Briviesca, Burgos yemas (i.e.
sugared egg yolk) or the pine nut and sugar paste from Aranda
Along La Ribera del Duero (i.e. the banks of the Duero) good-quality
red wine and rosés (called clarete) are produced and
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