Burgos Cathedral – one of Spain’s Top Cathedrals
Burgos Cathedral has the distinction of being the only Cathedral in Spain to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site independently from the historic center of the city it is located in.
I’ve previously described Burgos Cathedral as being “filthy” in its opulence. It’s gross in its extravagant display of wealth. We’ve visited many of Spain’s top cathedrals but the decadence at Burgos Cathedral is too much. You’ll no doubt be mesmerized by it all. But you might also find yourself reflecting on the excesses of the church as I did…
Building of Burgos Cathedral started in 1221. It is one of 4 famous (and “Top” Cathedrals of Spain) built in High Gothic style, the others being Toledo Cathedral in 1226, Leon Cathedral in 1258 and Seville Cathedral in 1401.
The inspiration for the High Gothic style came from France. In the case of the Cathedrals of Burgos and Toledo, both of their bishops had studied in France and were supporters of the new style. Royal support came from Ferdinand III, King of Castile-León who attended the laying of the first stone of both cathedrals. Note that Burgos was capital of the joint kingdoms of León-Castile, and a major residence of Ferdinand III and his son, Alfonso X – so while Burgos Cathedral was built to celebrate God, it was also a monument to political power and prestige.
The interior of the Cathedral is full of works from some of Spain’s most decorated artists at the time. One thing you’ll notice is that the central part of the church containing the nave, the crossing, and the altarpiece are quite small compared to many of Spain’s Cathedrals. The smallness of the central part of the church is made up by huge chapels on the sides and behind the altarpiece. Witness the Chapel of the Constable (Capilla del Condestable) which is the most extravagant chapel that I’ve seen in any cathedral anywhere.
The exterior of Burgos Cathedral is the most impressive among all the Spanish Cathedrals that we’ve seen. It dominates the old town with its monstruous size and looming spires.
Burgos Cathedral is a spectacular Cathedral.
Tips and Practical Information
Entry fee at time of writing (October 2022): 9 Euros
Free Entry: Entry to the cathedral is free on Tuesday afternoons between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm in the summer (and 4:30 pm to 6 pm in the winter).
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