Burgos is a city of Spain located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the province of Burgos.
It is situated in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, on the confluence of the Arlanzón river tributaries, at the edge of the central plateau.
Declared in 1964 as Pole of Industrial Promotion and in 1969 as Pole of Industrial Development, the city has grown since then in terms of economic activity. At the regional level, Burgos forms part of an economic axis together with the cities of Valladolid and Palencia.
It has a diverse educational offer led by the University of Burgos, which has more than 8,000 students, which stands out for its research quality and relationship with the business world.
It houses the headquarters of the Superior Court of Justice of Castile and León and the Castilian and Leonese Institute of Language.
It has the largest aviation pilot school in the country.
Burgos is the venue for several international events, such as the iRedes social network congress, and national events such as the ForoBurgos conference, or the Castile and León Fashion walk.
In recent years the city has been immersed in various projects, such as the complete urbanization of the Ferrocarril Boulevard, which, at around 12 km long, is one of the longest avenues in Europe, crossing a large part of the city from east to the west following the redeveloped layout of the eliminated train tracks.
The Cathedral of Burgos is a World Heritage Site.
Burgos was selected as the “Spanish Gastronomy Capital” of 2013. In 2015 it was named “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO and has been part of the Creative Cities Network since then.
It forms part of the Camino de Santiago.
Tourism and main attractions
The construction of Burgos’ Gothic Cathedral began in 1221 and spanned mainly from the 13th to 15th centuries. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The west front is flanked by towers terminating in octagonal spires covered with open stonework traceries. The middle section, which serves as an entrance, has three alabaster pilasters, the intercolumnar spaces bearing panel-pictures representing the martyrdom of saints. The façade possesses ornate and fantastic surface decoration.
The church of San Gil Abad is a Gothic temple. The church has access from San Gil street and is located next to the Gate of the same name, near the eastern slope of the Castillo hill.
Currently, it is considered a BIC (Well of Cultural Interest) (it was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument belonging to the National Artistic Treasure by decree of June 3, 1931).
It is believed that there was first a hermitage outside the walls dedicated to Saint Bartholomew here. But a pontifical bull of Alexander III, in 1163, already mentions the church of San Gil among the eleven that belonged to the episcopal chair, and it is also included in an act of the University of 1388.
The church of San Esteban is a Catholic temple, no longer worshipped, located in the neighborhood of the same name. Remarkable Gothic construction built essentially between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th, it currently houses the Altarpiece Museum.
The church of San Nicolás de Bari is a Catholic temple located next to the Camino de Santiago, on Fernán González street, next to the cathedral.
It was built in 1408 on top of another Romanesque temple. It is presided over by one of the most impressive and monumental altarpieces of the Castilian Renaissance art, designed and made in the 15th century by Simón de Colonia and his son Francisco de Colonia.
The church and convent of Nuestra Señora de La Merced constitute a late-Gothic monument from the 15th and 16th centuries located on Calle de la Merced. The temple continues to have a religious use as a parish of the Jesuit Fathers, while the old convent rooms, inhabited by the Mercedarians for more than three centuries, are today integrated into a hotel business.
The church of San Cosme and San Damián is a parish church of Catholic worship, of whose construction there are already reports in the 13th century. Later it undergoes a serious reform in the sixteenth century halfway between the Gothic and the Renaissance.
The Saint John’s Monastery is located at one end of the Plaza de San Juan, built in the 11th century and rebuilt on later occasions. It was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1944. It served as a hospital for pilgrims and belonged to the Benedictine order. Fragments of the 15th-century church and the 16th-century chapter house are preserved. Its restoration received the Europa Nostra award in 2017.
It preserves a Renaissance cloister, in which there is a museum that exhibits the works of the Burgos painter Marceliano Santa María.
Miraflores Charterhouse is an Isabelline style charterhouse, or Carthusian monastery of the Order of the Carthusians, built on a hill (known as Miraflores) about three kilometres from the center of Burgos.
Its origin dates back to 1442, when King John II of Castile donated a hunting lodge outside Burgos, which had been erected by his father Henry III of Castile “the Mourner” in 1401, to the Order of the Carthusians for its conversion into a monastery, thus fulfilling his father’s wishes, as stated in his will.
A fire in 1452 caused the destruction of the pavilion, and construction of a new building began in 1454. It is this building, which was placed under the patronage of Saint Mary of the Annunciation, which exists today. The construction was commissioned to Juan de Colonia, and was continued after his death by his son, Simón de Colonia, who completed the structure in 1484 at the behest of Queen Isabella I of Castile, surviving daughter of king John II of Castile and queen Isabella of Portugal, whose impressive buried are housed in the monastery.
It is a late-Gothic jewel, and its highlights include the church, whose Isabelline style western facade is decorated with the coats-of-arms of its founders. The monastery consists of a single nave with stellar vault and side chapels, and is topped by a polygonal apse.
The Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas is a monastery of Cistercian nuns located approximately 1.5 km west of the city of Burgos. The word huelgas, which usually refers to “labour strikes” in modern Spanish, refers in this case to land which had been left fallow. Historically, the monastery has been the site of many weddings of royal families, both foreign and Spanish, including that of Edward I of England to Eleanor of Castile in 1254, for example. The defensive tower of the Abbey is also the birthplace of King Peter of Castile.
The Archbishop’s Palace was built in 1916 in neo-Renaissance style, after having demolished the original medieval one, and located adjacent to the cathedral. Archbishop José Cadena Eleta was commissioned to build it by the architects Julián de Apráiz and Javier de Luque, who opted for a historicist style. Its balconies in the corners, the stained glass windows, the Throne Room, and in general all its interior decoration stand out. It is located between the Paseo de la Audiencia and the cathedral.
Palace of Castilfale. In front of the door of the Coronería of the cathedral, the house of Los Colonia was built in the second half of the 15th century. On its site, Juan Vallejo began the construction of a palace acquired in 1565 by Andrés de Maluenda.
Although the building, made of stone and brick, as was usual in Burgos domestic architecture, was transformed by its successive owners; the last, in the 20th century, was the Count of Castilfalé.
It was the occasional residence of personalities such as King Ferdinand VII and Napoleon Bonaparte. Ceded by its last owners, the Counts of Castilfalé, to the Burgos City Council in 1969, it was restored and rehabilitated as the Municipal Archives in 1985.
The Palace of the Constables of Castile, popularly known as Casa del Cordón, is a palace from the 15th century that stands in the historic center, presiding over the old Plaza del Mercado Mayor, which was formed by the current Plazas de La Libertad and Santo Domingo de Guzman. Its promoters were Pedro Fernández de Velasco, Constable of Castile, and Countess Mencía de Mendoza y Figueroa, his wife.
The Palacio de la Isla was commissioned to be built in 1883 by the lawyer and banker Juan Muguiro y Casi in the orchard he had acquired on the Paseo de la Isla, with the intention of spending the summer in the city. Its style is romantic with neo-Gothic influences. In 1942, the building was declared a Site of Cultural Interest.
The Casa de Miranda is a Renaissance palace, built in 1545 to serve as the residence of the canon of the cathedral Francisco de Miranda Salón, probably by the architect Juan de Vallejo.
The Burgos Main Theater is a building from the Elizabethan era located at the beginning of the Paseo del Espolón, next to the Provincial Council Palace. Construction began in 1843 by the architect Bernardino Martínez de Velasco, under the direction of Francisco de Angoitia, and it was inaugurated in 1858.
From its inauguration until 1956, it hosted a large number of concerts and shows. In the same building was the so-called Recreation Room. After the reform of 1997, carried out under the direction of the architect José María Pérez González, the building recovered its dance, theater and music activity, managed by the Municipal Institute of Culture of the Burgos City Council.
In the same building there is a library, an exhibition hall and a conference room (the Sala Polisón).
The Burgos Castle is a fortress located on the summit of Cerro del Castillo, elevated 75 m above the level of the city. The first tower was built by Count Diego Porcelos at the time of the Reconquest, in the year 884. As the importance of the defensive site increased, it gave way to a castle and more complex defensive elements.
Burgos has a total of 10 museums, the newest being the Museum of Human Evolution (the 10th most visited museum in Spain).
Among the most interesting are:
The Museum of Human Evolution was inaugurated on 13 July 2010. Its foundation is based on the archeological site of Atapuerca located 20 km east of Burgos. The Atapuerca site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains several caves, where fossils and stone tools of the earliest known hominids in West Europe have been found, near Atapuerca Mountains.
The Museum of Burgos summarizes the history of the province of Burgos. It has important objects and documents from all the ages, starting from Atapuerca, passing to the Romans and Iberians, and finishing in the contemporary period. These include the traditional sword of El Cid.
The Museum of Medieval Fabrics, located in the Monasterio de las Huelgas Reales, is a museum that houses women’s, men’s and children’s medieval civil clothing from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
Due to the high degree of conservation, the richness of the pieces and their ancient dating, it is considered the most important museum in the world of these characteristics. The Royal Heritage textile curator, Concha Herrero, affirms that it is the only set of perfectly dated medieval civil clothing.
The Altarpiece Museum is installed in the Church of San Esteban, currently without worship, and belongs to the Archbishopric of Burgos. It brings together a collection of altarpieces from the 15th to the 18th century from various towns in the province of Burgos. It also offers a sample of religious goldsmithing.
The Caja de Burgos Contemporary Art Center, also known as CAB de Burgos, is a center dedicated to contemporary art. It is located in the upper part of the historic center, next to the Church of San Esteban.
The CAB opened its doors in November 2003 and since then it has hosted a varied exhibition program that contains samples of the new current artistic trends. In addition to the exhibitions that include artists from the Spanish and international spheres, the center periodically carries out activities and workshops in parallel to bring contemporary artistic creation closer to all audiences.
The Book Museum. Between the Main Square “Plaza Mayor” and the Promenade of the Espolón “Paseo del Espolón,” on the side street, Travesía del Mercado nº3, you find the Fadrique de Basilea Book Museum “Museo del Libro Fadrique de Basilea”, of the Burgos publisher, Siloé, a cosy museum that shows the history of the book from its first written form to its modern electronic form.
Gastronomy and best restaurants
Burgos province is famous in gastronomy for:
Queso de Burgos, a white cheese which is soft and unctuous (because it is made with whey). Although originally made with sheep’s milk, now cow’s milk or mixtures are more common. Each rural district produces a minor variation, and the major dairies produce an industrial product that is acceptable for people with sensitive digestion. Its production reaches 35,000 tons annually.
Morcilla de Burgos, a pig’s-blood sausage (black pudding), is a staple country food known across the Iberian peninsula. Spiced with onions and herbs its most noticeable content is rice (often mistaken for fat) which makes it one of the lightest and healthiest products of its kind.
There are five Michelin list restaurants in the city:
Blue Gallery, Comuneros de Castilla 19, 23 – 49 EUR • Creative Cuisine
La Fábrica, Briviesca 4, 22 – 70 EUR • Contemporary Cuisine
Cobo Tradición, Plaza de la Libertad 9, 40 – 60 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
Alma, General Sanz Pastor 7, 18 – 45 EUR • Contemporary Cuisine
La Favorita, Avellanos 8, 30 – 47 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
The city’s main festival is San Pedro y San Pablo, on June 29. Every year, for about two weeks, the city celebrates with fireworks, concerts, sports, folklore, games for children, theater and other activities.
Transport and how to get to?
Burgos Airport is located only 5 km from the city centre, with daily flights to Barcelona International Airport, and during spring and summer to Palma de Mallorca and Paris Orly.
The city is considered a first-class rail route through which one rail lines circulate, operated by Renfe: Madrid–Hendaye railway. The faster trains use the AVE line between Madrid and Valladolid.
Distance by car to other main cities of Castile and León and Madrid
Ávila 2 hr 35 min (263 km) via A-6 and A-62
Palencia 1 hr 1 min (91.6 km) via A-62
León 1 hr 42 min (180 km) via A-231
Salamanca 2 hr 22 min (244 km) via A-62
Segovia 2 hr 6 min (203 km) via N-110 and A-1
Soria 1 hr 43 min (142 km) via N-234
Valladolid 1 hr 29 min (129 km) via A-62
Zamora 2 hr 15 min (226 km) via A-11 and A-62
Madrid 2 hr 35 min (249 km) via A-1
Area: 107 km² (municipality)
Coordinates: 42°20′27″N 3°41′59″W
Population: 174 051
Time: Central European UTC +1