Burgos Cathedral, Spain

The cathedral in the Spanish city of Burgos is an important stop on the Way of St. James. Its breathtaking splendor was meant to symbolize the prosperity of the trading city at the time.

Burgos Cathedral is located in the city of Burgos, in northern Spain, and is the episcopal church of the archdiocese of the same name. Located in the region of Castilly y León, it is an important stop on the Way of St. James. Since 1984 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we have also included it in our list of the 10 most beautiful churches in Spain.


PICTURES: Burgos Cathedral

Photo gallery: Burgos Cathedral

History of Burgos Cathedral

The magnificent cathedral was meant to symbolize the prosperity that Burgos was able to generate in the 13th century through the wool trade with Flanders and England, Spain - © Marques / Shutterstock
© Marques / Shutterstock

Burgos Cathedral was built in the 13th century from an older Romanesque church. At that time Burgos, the capital of Castile, was a diocese and important stop for pilgrims on the Way of St. James. In addition, the wool trade to Flanders and England passed through Burgos, which brought great prosperity to the city. The magnificent Burgos Cathedral was to symbolize this prosperity.

Its construction was begun under King Ferdinand III and Bishop Mauricio. The latter consecrated the altar only nine years after ground was broken; after that, work on the cathedral stood still for about 200 years.

It was not until 1435 that construction on the imposing church continued. This was triggered by the return of the then Bishop of Burgos, Alfonso de Cartegna, from the Council of Basel. He was accompanied by the German master builder Johann von Köln, known to the Spaniards as Juan de Colonia, who later completed the towers of the cathedral.

In the 15th century, several chapels were subsequently added to the cathedral, and the cloister and the archbishop's palace were also built at that time. Construction of the cathedral ended in the 16th century; the structure is now dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Visit to the Cathedral of Burgos

The Sarmental doorway in the south transept wall of Burgos Cathedral depicts Jesus Christ with the writing evangelists gathered around him, Spain - © Guillermo del Olmo / Shutterstock
© Guillermo del Olmo / Shutterstock

In addition to the main entrance, formed by the Puerta del Perdón (Portal of Forgiveness) and flanked by the two powerful towers, there are three other entrances to the interior of the cathedral, all of which have masterful decorations:

  • the Coroneria portal in the northern transept wall, which shows a depiction of the Last Judgment
  • the Sarmental portal in the southern transept wall, on which Christ is depicted with the writing evangelists
  • The Pellejería doorway, the eastern entrance to the north transept, where the image of the Mother of God with angels and the martyrdom of John the Baptist are depicted.

Imposing architecture of Burgos Cathedral

Magnificent dome of the Capilla del Condestable in Burgos Cathedral, Spain - © Botond Horvath / Shutterstock
© Botond Horvath / Shutterstock

The imposing sacred building in Burgos consists of a three-nave nave, a chancel and a single-nave transept. It is built in the French Gothic style, recognizable among other things by the ornate figure or royal gallery on the west facade.


This is located in an open gallery under the 50 meter high dome, which is crowned by a statue of the Virgin Mary. On this statue there is the inscription "pulcher es et decora" ("beautiful you are and graceful"). However, there are also several Spanish elements, such as the inscriptions, the coats of arms on the facade and the rich ornaments.

In Burgos Cathedral you can still find the tomb of the Spanish national hero of the Reconquista, El Cid (actually Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar) and his wife, whose bones were moved to the church some time after her actual death.

In addition to several tombs, the cathedral now houses a collection of works of art, including tapestries, choir stalls, sculptures and altarpieces.

Related links:

Official website of the Cathedral of Burgos