Burgos, on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela

The capital of the unified kingdom of Castilla y León, Burgos at the head of the merino wool trade, was, in the Middle Ages, a prosperous trading city with great economic and political power.

The cradle of the Old Castile, capital of Spanish Gothic art, it is home to the Cathedral of Santa María de Burgos, the flagship of the Cathedral. Begun in 1221, its construction was completed three centuries later.

Mentioned as early as the twelfth century in the Pilgrim’s Guide as a privileged stage on the French pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, there were thirty-two pilgrim’s hospices, of which those of San Juan Evangelista and del Rey were the best known.

Raised in 884 on one of the rare high points of Burgos to watch over the plain, the Castillo offers only its ruins to recall its role in history as an outpost against the Muslims. The area surrounding the castle was redeveloped at the end of the 1950s, planted with conifers and marked out paths, in order to make it discoverable. After several years of restoration, the castle was opened for a visit with its network of underground galleries.

Burgos is also the city of Diego Diaz de Vivar which inspired the character of the Cid, whose statue can be admired next to the quays of the Arlanzón river, which divides the city in two.

Franco’s headquarters during the Spanish Civil War, Burgos is now a playful city. The Plaza Mayor attracts tourists who come to visit the museum city, in particular the medieval quarter and its ancient monuments on about 2 kilometers between the square and the Cathedral.

It is in one of the many mesones, traditional inns, of the historical town that you can taste a local gastronomy made of roast lamb of milk, garlic soup and lentils or puddings…

Visits and monuments of Burgos

The Bridge of St. Mary and the Paseo del Espolón

The Santa María bridge provides access to the old town and the Paseo del Espolón through the Arco de Santa María. An emblematic garden in the city centre, the Paseo is located between the Santa María and San Pablo bridges.

The esplanade offers a pleasant stroll along the banks of the River Arlanzón, where there is a pleasant entertainment area with cafes and tapas bars nearby, day and night.

Arco de Santa María

The St. Mary’s Gate was once the most imposing of the gates giving access to the city. Dating from the 14th century, the facade was renovated in the 16th century to give it an arc of triumph in honour of Charles V.

Its aspect is that of a castle dominated by towers, below which are sculpted certain great personalities of Burgos including Le Cid.

Visits: Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm. Sundays from 11am to 2pm. Free admission.

The House of the Cordon

Plaza de la Libertad.

Built in the 16th century for the Connetables of Castile, the Maison du Cordon still bears on its facade the large Dominican cordon that gave it its name.

It is in this residence that the Catholic Kings received Christopher Columbus when he returned from his second voyage to the Americas, and also within these walls that in 1515 the union of the kingdoms of Navarre and Castile was approved. The building now houses a Caisse d’ Épargne headquarters.

Museum of Burgos

Calle Miranda, 13.

The Provincial Museum of Burgos is divided into two sections in adjoining buildings.

Casa Miranda, a Renaissance palace dating from the 16th century, houses a section devoted to prehistory and archaeology, including objects from the sites of Atapuerca and Ojo Guareña as well as the ancient Roman city of Clunia.

Casa del Angulo is dedicated to fine arts, with a collection stretching from the Mozarabic period to the present day. The Romanesque altar facing of Santo Domingos de Silos and the tomb of Juan Padilla are among the highlights of the exhibition.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm (from 4pm to 7pm afternoons from October to June), 10am to 2pm on Sundays and public holidays. Admission: 1 €, free on weekends.

King’s Hospital

Plaza Sobrado.

Occupied today by the Faculty of Law and the Rectorate of the University of Burgos, the Hospital del Rey was founded by Alfonso VIII in 1195 to care for pilgrims on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela. The poorest of them were also dressed there.

The hospital always welcomed pilgrims who came to its door and its importance lasted until the 16th century, when it was possible to confess in all languages.

Museum of Human Evolution

Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca.

The museum offers an understanding of human evolution from the discoveries made on the Atapuerca site.

It is on this site that the remains of Homo antecessor, the name given to the human bones of Ataquera, which is believed to be the oldest representative of the Western European genus, were discovered in 1994.

The building, inaugurated by Queen Sophie in 2010, is a work of architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 2.30pm and from 4.30pm to 8pm. Sundays and public holidays, in July-August from 10am to 8pm.

Museum Marceliano Santamaría

Plaza de San Juan.

This museum is dedicated solely to the painter from Burgos Marceliano Santamaría (1866-1952), famous for his Castilian landscapes, historical paintings and portraits.

The museum, inaugurated in 1966, is housed in the former monastery of San Juan. A large part of the works exhibited come from family donations. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 1.50pm and from 5pm to 8.50pm. Sundays from 11am to 1:50pm, closed Mondays and holidays.

Cathedral of Burgos

Plaza Santa María.

The construction lasted several centuries, from 1221 to 1765, and the cathedral has several artistic aspects dominated by the Gothic style. On either side of its facade are towers 84 metres high, crowned with 15th century arrows.

The most appreciated architectural ensemble is the Sarmental Gate with the image of Christ surrounded by the apostles. Under the Mudéjar vault of the central nave lie the remains of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid, and his wife Doña Jimena.

Opening hours: every day from 9.30am to 7.30pm, from 10am to 7pm from 1 November to 18 March. Admission: 7 €, retired: 6 €, students: 4,50 €, children: 2 €.

Cathedral Museum

Plaza Santa María.

The cathedral museum is divided between the open chapels and the capitular of the cathedral. It exhibits various goldsmith’s items: monstrance, crosses, silver pictures…, paintings, documents and codexes from the 10th to 16th centuries, such as the Bible of Cardeña tapestries and paintings on Flemish wood.

Opening hours: every day from 9.30am to 7.30pm, from 10am to 7pm from 1 November to 18 March. Admission: 7 €, retired: 6 €, students: 4,50 €, children: 2 €.

The Altarpiece Museum

Church of San Esteban. Calle San Esteban.

Unique in Spain, the museum houses 16th and 16th century altarpieces from different sites in the province of Burgos. A collection of goldsmith’s jewellery including crosses, sacred vases, ostensoirs… is also offered as well as paintings and other pieces from the Vileña monastery.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm. Closed from September 14th to June 30th. Admission: 2 €.

Chartreuse Santa María de Miraflores

Carretera de Fuentes Blanca, km 3.5.

Outside, this building was a’ secondary’ residence of King Henry III before being ceded to the Carthusian monks. Built on a hunting reserve, the palace was restored by his son John II at the time of his accession to the throne, however its construction remained unfinished until the reign of Isabella the Catholic.

The greatest architects, painters and sculptors of the time: Gil de Siloe, Simon de Colgne, Pedro Berruete participated in the realization of what became one of the jewels of the late 15th century Gothic period.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10.15am to 3pm and from 4pm to 6pm. Sundays and public holidays from 11am to 3pm and from 4pm to 6pm. Free admission.

San Lesmes Church

Plaza San Juan.

The parroquia, parish church, was built in the fifteenth century to house the remains of San Lesmes, patron saint of the city who devoted himself entirely to the care of the pilgrims of Santiago. It was modified a century later according to the architectural and decorative criteria of the time.

Free admission.

Church of San Nicolás

Calle Fernán Gonzáles.

San Nicolás is worth the detour for its large altarpiece, a 16th century work from the Cologne workshop. This altarpiece was made for Gonzalo Palanco, a merchant who needed to show both his economic power and his status. The images of the altarpiece allude to passages from the Bible and the miracles of Saint Nicholas.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 11.30am to 1.30pm (11am to 2pm on the mornings of April to September) then from 5pm to 7pm. Admission: 1,50 €.

Fabric Museum of the Monastery of Las Huelgas

Calle los Compases de la Huelgas.

This monastery of Cistercian nuns was founded in the 12th century on the orders of Alfonso II, and its Romanesque cloister and typical chapel from the Almohad period are worth a visit. The great work of the present building with its cloister and annexes was built in the first half of the 13th century. The will of the designers was to transform the ensemble into a royal pantheon.

The clothing on display in the museum comes from the monarchs and their direct descendants who lie there. Their tombs are sheltered in the naves occupied by the choir of nuns.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 1.15pm and from 4.30pm to 5.45pm, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 2.15pm. Admission: 5 €, reduced price: 4 €.

San Gil Abad Church

Calle San Gil, 12.

It is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the province of Burgos, with its exuberant facade and its exuberant decoration, flanked by the ramparts. There are numerous funerary chapels in the interior, including those of the Buena Mañana and the Natividad, whose starry vault is entirely painted with lime.

Opening hours: open from 15 July to 15 September, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm. Free admission.

Medina of Pomar

85 km north of Burgos.

Historic city of the Merindades region, Medina de Pomar is crossed by the Charles V road. This itinerary marks Charles V’s journey from Cantabria to the monastery of Yuste in Extremadura to retreat before he died.

The city is protected by a double wall whose interior was built in the 14th century. Five doors were originally pierced, including the Arch of Judería and the Arch of the Cadena, still visible.

Overlooking the city, the imposing Alcázar de los Condestables, with its two towers, is a castle-palace dating from the 14th century. It houses the Museo de las Merindades, which presents the history of the city and the region through documents and manuscripts, archaeological remains and various objects. The nearby monastery of Santa Clara, at the same time, also has an interesting museum in which we can admire a Christ lying in Gregorio Fernández.

The locality has several green spaces dedicated to walks, picnics and swimming. Hiking trails run through the forests and surrounding natural areas.


18 km east of Burgos.

We discover the famous archaeological sites of Atapuerca on the northern slope of the Sierra de Atapuerca.

Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the sites of the Sierra d’ Atapuerca make us understand the evolution of human beings and their ways of life, from a million years ago to recent times.

These vestiges of the past were discovered in 1899 during works for the construction of a railway line. However, it was not until the 1960s that the Edelweiss speleology team undertook extensive research. The discovery of very ancient human bones in the Cueva Mayor will lead to work that is still ongoing.


85 km northeast of Burgos.

The old quarter of Frías still preserves the medieval layout of its foundation in the 9th century. This was decided by Alfonso VIII to strengthen the border between Castile and Navarre by repopulating this part of the Ebro valley.

The castle of the Dukes of Frías sits at the top of a hill and offers a unique panoramic view over the city and the valley. In the centre of Frías two religious buildings deserve a stop: the church of San Vicente for its Romanesque portal and the convent of Santa María de Vadillo founded in the 13th century. At the exit of the town, a magnificent 14th century medieval bridge with a defensive tower crosses the river Ebro.


75 km northeast of Burgos.

Famous since the 10th century, Oña developed in the shadow of the monastery of San Salvador, Fernán Gonzalez, Count of Castile and the protection of kings. The Arc de la Estrella, the ramparts of the church of San Juan and the church of San Juan with Romanesque windows and a gothic Mudéjar arch are among the architectural heritage of this small town.


40 km south of Burgos.

The town was founded in the pre-Roman period on a hill overlooking the valley of the Rio Arlanza and reached an apogee that lasted for twenty years, from 1598 to 1618, under the Duke of Lerma, King Philip III’s favourite.

Among the monumental ensemble of the city: the Ducal Palace built between 1601 and 1617 by Francisco de Mora on the ruins of the old castle. It has become a Tourist Parador, with sober and elegant curves, framed by four angular towers. Opposite is the vast ducal square originally surrounded by arcades.

As for the collegiate church of San Pedro, a remarkable religious building from the beginning of the 17th century, it is linked to the ducal palace by a prominent passage offering beautiful views of the Arlanza river.


40 km southeast of Burgos.

This small village owes its name to the many reddish caves that dot its surroundings.

In the old historical centre, we discover a typical Castilian architecture made of houses on the ground floor in stone, arcades and timber half-timbered houses with galleries.

Among the monuments of Covarrubias: the church of San Tomás with its Renaissance pulpit, the collegiate church of San Cosme y San Damián in Gothic style, whose museum preserves a masterpiece of Flemish Gothic imagery: the triptych of Adoration of the Magi from the 16th century. The remains of the ancient wall and tower of Doña Urraca, a 10th century Mozarabic building, complete this architectural heritage.

Peñaranda de Duero

100 km south of Burgos.

An imposing castle dominates the medieval centre and its monumental complex situated on the Ribera del Duero Road, an internationally renowned vineyard. The wines of Peñaranda de Duero benefit from this AOC ‘ Ribera del Duero’.

Around the Plaza Mayor, the streets show a succession of stately homes, religious buildings and palaces among which stands out the Palace of the Counts of Miranda. Of Renaissance style of the XVIth century, it is also known as the Palacio de la Avellaneda.

Coruña del Conde

110 km south of Burgos.

In the heart of the Ribera del Duero wine region, Coruña del Conde is dominated by the ruins of its medieval castle. In addition to the Romanesque hermitage of Santo Cristo, the surroundings invite us to visit the ancient Roman city of Clunia, a few kilometres from the city, one of the most important Roman sites of the Iberian Peninsula.

Visiting Clunia is a journey into the past of this city of up to 30,000 inhabitants with its vast seigniorial residences, baths, theatres and temples. Mosaics dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries can be admired here.


Main destinations of Castilla y Leon
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