Burgos – Explore, Go Back in Time and Relax
Burgos must be on your ‘to visit’ list this year. Of course you can see it any other time as well, but this year is special, because the city has been declared the Spanish Gastronomy Capital of 2013. So if you only have time to discover one Spanish destination this year, we recommend you choose Burgos, the capital of the province with the same name.
You will find it in Northern Spain, on the pilgrimage route to the remains of St James, the apostle, in Santiago de Compostella. Set on the banks of the Arlazón river, the city has many remarkable landmarks, of which most are churches, palaces, and other Middle Age buildings.
Actually, the city’s main attraction is a majestic church dedicated to Virgin Mary. Made of while limestone, it looks like an intricate lace work, both inside and outside. It is the Burgos Cathedral, (Catedral de Burgos), and it is the only church in Spain that is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites without being joined to other buildings or to the historic center of the city. It is famous for its amazing Gothic architecture, even though some Renaissance elements can also be admired in the design. The Roman-Catholic cathedral was constructed between 1221 and 1567.
If you are passionate about history, you must visit the Castillo de Burgos, an imposing fortress on the hilly Parque de Castillo. Here you will find a museum that ‘speaks’ about the city’s past through numerous interesting exhibits. Because the original fortress has suffered a number of tragic events, including a destructive fire in 1736, what you can see today is actually the rebuilt Castillo. Only a small part of the original foundations (from the 9th century) can still be seen today, after recent excavations. For sweeping views of the city head to the mirador (lookout) south of the car park.
For those who want to take a journey even further back in time, we highly recommend a stop at the relatively recently opened Museum of Human Evolution, which is the only one of its kind in the world. It is dedicated to the history of human evolution and it goes back hundreds of thousands of years with its priceless exhibits. It even features Europe’s first human inhabitants, who lived on the continent some 800,000 years ago. Opened in the summer of 2010, the museum is estimated to soon become one of the country’s ten most visited museums.
Whenever you want to return to the present time, a relaxing stroll on the Paseo del Espolón, the city’s most popular promenade, is the perfect choice. Lined with various shops and cafés, it goes along the Arlanzón and it invites passers-by to stop and enjoy the day. A few minutes spent in the carefully manicured gardens will make you forget that you are in the middle of a busy city.
- If you have more time for sightseeing, go to the Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza José Antonio. It is located east of the cathedral and it is one of the city’s main attractions. Here you will find the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento), which dates back to 1791.
- When visiting the cathedral, make sure you enquire about the tomb of El Cid.
- If 5-star hotels are your thing, try the Landa Hotel in the heart of the city.