Travels in Spain: Burgos, Part II

So we left the last post after our visit to the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos (CAB), the city’s contemporary art gallery. Right around the corner from the gallery was the Church of Saint Stephen, which, when set against the Burgos Cathedral, seemed downright small. The church, dating back to the 14th century, and it now houses of the Museo del Retablo Burgos (for the low cost of three euros per person). The museum is filled with grand altarpieces from the surrounding countryside, taken from abandoned churches in abandoned towns, and restored to their former glory. There are at least a dozen two-story tall altarpieces, all different and unique and meticulously carved, along with gold and silver crosses dating back to the 15th century and earlier. Some of my favorite/weird pieces are below, along with the round stained glass window that was opposite the main altarpiece in the church.

After we ate a nearby menu del dia at a local restaurant, where we were served by an abuela (grandmother) while her grandson ran the kitchen; the food was good, and the art on the wall was cool as well.

Jesse at lunch

After a walk back and rest at the hotel, we headed out again. This time, we did not have to cross the river to the Rio Arlanzón, as our destination was the Museum of Human Evolution. We arrived just before seven in the evening, and the Museum is free from 7-8pm when it closes, so they made us wait five minutes, and then we entered. It is best to start on the lower level, as it details and has the actual artifacts found at the nearby Atapuerca archeological site, where they found remains of human ancestors dating back 800,000 to 1.3 million years ago. They found bones of animals like lions, hippos, and jaguars that roamed Spain hundreds of thousands of years ago. After that we were only able to see the ground floor, which had exhibits on Charles Darwin (including his route around the world and representation of the boat he rode on) and true to life models of human ancestors. The exhibits are well presented and extremely informative; a highly recommended visit.

The Camino de Santiago, which is important to all of North Spain, has a path that travels though Burgos, and there is even a giant shrub (living) sculpture outside the Museum.

After another dinner of pinchos we got to sleep early, ready for our last morning in Burgos, where the Cathedral awaited us.

A nine euro per person entry fee felt a bit much, we had to see the inside of this massive Cathedral, and we were not disappointed. It is a truly impressive cathedral, with stunning altarpieces throughout, gold and silver crosses and other items, paintings that dated back to the 13th century, inner hallways lined with stained glass, and epic archways. The gothic ceilings are also unique in their designs, and were my favorite part of the Cathedral.

There are also multiple paintings of the Annunciation (which is my favorite Gothic era Catholic painting, due to its many interpretations).

While there is an audio tour that can be accessed via the web, there are not many, if any, written descriptions of the tombs (and there are many) and the other artwork and altars in the Cathedral; so a guidebook that describes these is a good thing to bring, if you are interested. Another quick note is that, if you are arriving or leaving the city via train; the train station is about an hour walk from old town, and is best navigated by taxi.

Finally, here are some of my favorite pictures taken in and around Burgos.

My favorite part of Burgos is that it mixes the old and the new, so if you need a break from the many, many churches throughout the city, you can check out the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos (CAB) or the Museum of Human Evolution, or stroll along the Rio Arlanzón, and it is always easy to grab a quick, tasty pincho or two in between. Highly recommended!

Published by Phil Barrington

Currently living in Spain, Accountant by Day, Writer by Night. Lover of baseball, travel ,and spreadsheets. Check out my blog:

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