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. The municipality has a population of about 180,000 inhabitants. It forms part of the Camino de Santiago.
Founded in 884 by Diego Rodríguez Porcelos, Burgos soon became the leading city of the embryonic County of Castile. 11th century chieftain Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid) is connected to the city, as he was born near Burgos and was raised and educated there. In a long-lasting decline since the 17th century, following the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Burgos became the headquarters of the Francoist proto-government. 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. In 2008, the international Burgos Airport started to offer commercial flights.
The Museum of Human Evolution opened here in 2010. The museum features remains of the first hominins in Europe, which lived in this area 750,000-800,000 years ago. 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.
Burgos is rich in ancient churches and convents. The three most notable are the cathedral, with its chapel of the Condestables de Castilla (Lords Constable of Castile), the monastery of Las Huelgas and the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores. Minor notable churches are San Esteban, San Gil (Sancti Aegidii), San Pedro, San Cosme y San Damián, Santiago (Sancti Jacobi), San Lorenzo and San Lesmes (Adelelmi). The Convento de la Merced, occupied by the Jesuits, and the Hospital del Rey are also of historic and architectural interest.
Among the other interesting architectural structures, in the walls of the city are the gateway of Santa María, erected for the first entrance of the Emperor Charles V, and the arch of Fernán González.
Construction on 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 octagonal chapel of the Condestable, in florid, thus highly sculpted, Gothic design, has a roof finished with balustraded turrets, needle-pointed pinnacles and statues. In the lower portion, coats of arms, shields and crouching lions have been worked into the ensemble. The exterior of the sacristy is decorated with carved traceries, figures of angels and armoured knights. The elaborate tabernacle is composed of two octagonal sections in Corinthian style.
Monasterio de las Huelgas
The Monasterio de las Huelgas Reales (Monastery of the Royal Retreats) on the outskirts of the city, was founded in 1180 by king Alfonso VIII, and was begun in a pre-Gothic style, although almost every style has been introduced over many additions. The remarkable cloisters have been described as “unrivalled for beauty both of detail and design, and perhaps unsurpassed by anything in its age and style in any part of Europe” (1911 Encyclopædia Britannica). One cloister has semicircular arches with delicate and varied columns; the other has an ogival style of early Gothic. The interior of the church has enormous columns supporting its magnificent vault; the entrance is modern. This convent historically benefited from extraordinary privileges granted to its abbess by kings and popes.
The Carthusian monastery, Miraflores Charterhouse (Cartuja de Miraflores) is situated about four kilometres from the historic city center. Among the treasures of the Charterhouse are the wooden statue of St. Bruno, the wooden choir stalls in the church and the tombs of King Juan II and of his spouse, Queen Isabella of Portugal, constructed of marble and with their recumbent effigies sculpted in alabaster. Around the top frieze are statues of angels in miniature. The French soldiers in the Spanish War of Independence (1814) mutilated this work, cutting off some of the heads and carrying them away to France. King Juan II’s daughters by his first wife, heiresses Princessses Catherine and Eleanor of Asturias, are also buried in the monastery.
Burgos has a total of 10 museums, the newest being the Museum of Human Evolution (the 10th most visited museum in Spain).Frontal view of the Museum of Human Evolution, unique in its kind around the world.Book Museum
Museum of Human Evolution
The Museum of Human Evolution was inaugurated on 13 July 2010. Its foundation is based on the archeological site of Atapuerca located 20 km (12 mi) 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 also allows the visitor to travel to the archaeological site and biological park.
Museum of Burgos
It 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 is located in the renaissances palaces, the House of Íñigo Angulo and the House of Miranda, which has a main patio that structures the 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.