Travel Guide to Burgos

Capital of the Castilian Gothic style

Enclaved in the heart of the French Way and divided by the Arlanzón river, the Burlagese capital is displayed in the feet of it´s cathedral. Such monument is the first to conserve of the many in this Gothic city. Cabeza de Castilla and the main shopping center in the region, the past that the city offers is glorious. Don´t doubt visiting, discover the history and the travel guide of the best places to see in Burgos.

Plan your stay in Burgos

Aside from the extraordinary cathedral, which you can reall all about its importance here. There is enough interesting sites to see in Burgos. For example, the Monastery of las Huelgas, the Miraflores Charterhouse, the Museum of Evolution, the Church of San Esteban or the Retablo Museum. On foot you can enjoy the Espolon Walk Way to it´s maximum. Others in this travel guide include the remains of the castle and the Old Town.

As far as excursions, the Burguess capital is in an exceptional site. To the east you can find Atapuerca and it´s exceptional center of interpretation. Northeast, you can find Castrojeriz composed of a destination associated to the Way of Saint James. On another hand, in the north you can visit Briviesca and to the south, Lerma.

The center of Burgos is filled of places to eat tapas. In the pages sleeping and eating in Burgos, you can find countless options of these. Also, the city is a great exit to begin the French Way.

Up next on this travel guide to Burgos, the history.

Do you want to visit this place?

Knowing the history of Burgos is necessary before discovering what to see in Burgos. This way, even if there is proof of prehistoric settlement in Burgos and it´s sorroundings. The origin of the city dates back to 884. It was then when the Monarch Alfonso III the great, ordered Diego Porcelos to fortify and populate the San Miguel Hill over the Arlanzón river. Since then, the enclave had a prominent paper in the reconquer. Especially Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, “the Cid”, a Burgal hero for his excellence.

Towards the year 930, Burgos converted into a capital of the Castilla county. It was dependant of the Leon Kingdom until its liberation in 1065. The location in the heart of the French Way, helped the economical growth. On another hand, his military importance was tremendeous in all of this period. In the XII century, the city possessed an Urban and Commercial character. Such characteristic was accentuated from 1221, when the construction of the gothical cathedral began.

Since the end of the XIII century, Burgos was the main exporter of Merino Wool, through the Atlantic ports. These went torwards the Flandes lands. Such enormeous strength influenced the capital of the kingdom to the translared to Bergos in 1230.

In the civil war between Juana la Beltraneja and Isabel the Catholic, the Burgans postulated in favor of the Spring. Like this, in August 1474, it was presented on the walls of the commanded city army by King Fernando. The consequent extended this 17 months. There were extreme measures of how to divert the river to leave the defenders without water.

Later, with the intention to win everyones will, the Catholic King installed the Council of the Sea in 1493 in Burgos. It was made known to their merchants that there was a monopoly. Between Castilla and the Northern Europe. This gave start to an extraordinary era of economic splendor, that was reflected in the urban route.

From the mid XVI century, with the crisis of the wool industry and the transfer of the capital to Madrid, the city began to loose importance. The profound decadence would prolong until the XIX century. For example, in 1763 there was an attempt to restore the Council. However, the wool monopoly did not have a say in an economy with scarse exportation.

On April 18 of 1808, one of the first popular uprisings against the French troops was produced in Burgos. Both artisans and merchants attacked soldirs on the way to the city. Four Burgans were murdered in the confrontation. It being a fundamental lace of passing in the connecting road for Madrid and Irún, was almost garrisones the whole war. This was done by an important French contingent commanded by General Dubretón. The Gaul considerably modernized the defense of the Urbe.

In September 1812, the army of General Wellington began the siege of the fort. However, the 35 day span began to reach a French army of help and raised the fence. It was the great defeat of the brilliant British soldier.

antigua postal del Arco de Santa María
The arch of Santa María in an old postcard. 

During the Spanish Civil War, Burgos united with the french side, Due to this, it was headquarters of the Meeting of National Defence, the first Spain National Government (1938-1939) and stage to the proclamation of Franco as Warlord of Spain. In that era some type of industrial industry began. From 1964 this one sped up with the creation of centers of development.

A great world milestone was the discovey of the deposits in the Hill of Atapuerca, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was complemented by the opening of the Museum of Human Evolution. As well as the boom of the Way of Saint James, the city has rised as a great tourist location.

Up next, the travel guide of what to see in Burgos.

Things to do in Burgos normally involve its Cathedral, the Huelgas Monastery, the Miraflores Carthusian Monastery, the Evolution Museum, the San Esteban Church, and the Retablo Museums. Also, among the main sights this city offers are the old city and the ruins. If you had more time, then visit the following localities: Atapuerca, Castrojeriz, Briviesca and Lerma. In any case, our visit to Burgos should follow four different paths in connection to the city’s main sights: the Cathedral, its surroundings, San Lorenzo’s quarter, and the Human Evolution Museum. Although you may also like visiting other two important museums such as Miraflores Cathusian Monastery and Las Huelgas Monastery.

Our visit should start at the beginning of the shor of the river, next to the Espolón Promenade -decorated with statues of kings. On the sides of the promenade you will be able to see the Statue of the Cid and Santa María’s Arch (access gate to the old city which leads to the Cathedral). This arch is one of the old twelve gates of the walls of the 14th century.

The Cathedral is the main sight Burgos offers. Regarding the outer part, it stands out by its height and magnificence; the entrance and the naves are mainly in Gothic style. Main entrance allows light to come in through its stained glass, and its towers are 84-meter height. Sarmental Gate, 1235, is decorated with incredible Gothic sculptures. The tympanum revolves around the figure of a Mighty Christ, surrounded by four evangelists. There are also representations of Moses, Saint Peter and Saint Pablo. Coronería Gate, 1250, was decorated representing the Final Judgement, with Christ at the center of the tympanum showing mercy and surrounded by Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist praying. Angels and archangels are also displayed. Pellejería Gate is in a Gothic plateresque façade made by Francisco de Colonia between the years 1516 and 1530.

Regarding the interior of the Cathedral, this temple has three naves. Next to the entrance you will see the figure of the Papamoscas (a toy elaborated in the 16th century characterized by a grotesque appearance opening and closing its moth when the bell rings). In the center of the transept, we find two of the most important things to see in this temple: the tomb of the famous knight Rodrigo Días of Vivar, also known as the Cid Campeador, and his wife Jimena. To the left of the transept you will find the famous golden Staircase built between the years 1519 and 1522. Do not miss either the Main Chapel made with marble and the Condestable chapel (Gothic in style similar to the plateresque style). This chapel is a temple itself inside the Cathedral. Built between the years 1482 and 1494, the chapel holds inside the shields of those who funded its construction: Pedro Fernández of Velasco and his wife Doña Mencía of Mendoza. It also houses several retablos and paintings.

There is an outstanding number of chapels inside the cathedral: Santísimo Cristo of Burgos (it has the image of a Crucified Christ and a main retablo -Neogothic in style), Presentación, Visitación (1440-1442), Santa Tecla (added in 1731-1735), and Santa Ana. We algo highlight the gate access to the High Cloister (from the 13th century, it stands out by the scene of Christ’s baptism in the tympanum) and the Low Cloister (employed as a cemetery until the 19th century; it now holds the Interpretation Center of the building). The Cathedral Museum is placed in San Juan and Santiago chapels and in the Chapter House. It stands out by its tapestry from the 16th century and paintings such as The Virgin with the Child by Hans Memling from the 16th century.

Interior of the Cathedral

In Santa María’s Plaza you will find the main façade of the Cathedral. Around this are we can highlight several main sights: San Nicolás Church (Gothic in style), Fernán González Arch (1586), the Cid’s House (1784), San Martín Mudejar Arch (14th century, which used to lead to the Jewish Quarter in Burgos), and a temple from the 16th century built upon the church where the Cid demanded from Alfonso VI the oath that would eventually lead the former to be exiled.

From the ruins of the Castle you will enjoy the most amazing views of the city. The quarter of this castle, next to the old fortress, is one of the spots that best preserve the medieval aspect of this city. Here we find amazing landmarks such as the Retablo Museum, San Esteban Church (Gothic in style, 14th century) and the Caja of Burgos Art Center (CAB), which houses contemporary art temporary exhibitions.

Heading to San Esteban Gate (14th century), Mudejar in style, we go down to San Gil Church, one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Burgos. From here we can now go to San Lorenzo Quarter, presided over by the Baroque San Lorenzo Church. Next to this, the Cordón House (15th century) stands out as an old palace whose façade was decorated by a Franciscan cord. Here it was where the Catholic Kings received Columbus after his second trip to America. It is nowadays the headquarters of a bank. Nearby, the Plaza Mayor, presided over by a statue of Carlos III, is a gorgeous place you cannot miss. The City Hall is also in this area (1788).

If you go through San Pablo’s Bridge, we will reach the Human Evolution Museum (MEH), which deals with the findings in Atapuerca about the Homo Antecesor (the oldest hominid species in Europe). Another intesting museum to visit is the Burgos Museum, located in the old Angulo House (16th century) and Miranda House (1545).

A bit further away from the city center, you will find the Huelgas Reales Monastery, built in 1187 as a burial place and spiritual retreat for many royal and noble families. Some elements were turned into the Romanesque style such as the Church and two cloisters. The temple has the double sarcophagus holding the founders Alfonso VIII and Leonor of Aquitania. Near San Fernardo cloister we can go to the Rich Textiles Museum, which houses dresses and textiles made by Arab designers. There are also two other important chapels here: the Asunción and Santiago.

Next to the Huelgas we find the Parral Park and the King’s Hospital, set up in the 12th century to hold jacobean pilgrims. Remodeled in the 16th century, it is nowadays the headquartes of the Burgos’ University’s Rectorate. On the opposite direction, 3 km away to the east, we find the Miraflores Carthusian Monastery, at the end of the Quinta’s Promenade. This awesome building, Gothic in style, was founded as a residence by King Juan II in 1441. There are man sculptures here, such as The Announciation by Pedro Berruguete (15th century).


Santa María Arch
San Esteban Church

Useful Information


42° 21′ 0″ N, 3° 41′ 24″ W


Valladolid 128 km, Santander 154 km, Madrid 244 km


856 m


176.608 (2016)

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