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Flag of Castile and LeonBurgos

  • Segovia
  • Avila
  • Soria
  • Burgos
  • Palencia
  • Valladolid
  • Leon
  • Zamora
  • Salamanca

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 of 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 Pyrenees.

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 trout.

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 de Duero.

Along La Ribera del Duero (i.e. the banks of the Duero) good-quality red wine and rosés (called clarete) are produced and officially guaranteed.

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