Cathedral of Burgos
Declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, the Cathedral of St. Mary of Burgos is a prime example of both Castilian and European Gothic architecture.
Plaza de Santa María, 1
Opening times 19 March to 31 October: 9:30 to 19:30. 1 November to 18 March: 10:00 to 19:00.
Tickets Standard (€7.00), Pensioners (€6.00), Students (€4.50), Children (7-14 years) (€1.50)
Construction began in 1221, following the French Gothic model (Bourges, Reims, etc). Although the Cathedral was consecrated in 1260, in the following centuries it was enlarged and refurbished until it acquired its present form. The most famous architects and sculptors of their day worked on the cathedral in all its phases, from the Plateresque to the Renaissance to the Baroque: Diego and Gil de Siloé, Felipe de Bigarny, the Colonia family (Juan, Simón and Francisco), Juan de Vallejo, Juan de Anchieta, Rodrigo and Martín de la Haya, Mateo Cerezo, Pascual de Mena, Sebastiano del Piombo, Juan Rizi, and many more.
The initial structure
The church has a Latin-cross floor plan with three naves, a transept of one nave and a main chapel with a generously proportioned ambulatory. The Gothic-style vaults are simple or ribbed or finished with the more complex tierceron ribs. Noteworthy is the triforium running the length of the central nave and the transept just below the large, elegant stained-glass windows. The Renaissance-style altarpiece in the main chapel (1562-1580) was the work of Rodrigo and Martín de la Haya.
Various enclosures and other elements have been added to the original structure over the centuries. These include: the dome above the crossing, by Juan de Vallejo (c. 1568), which replaced the elegant, stylized design by Juan de Colonia (1460-1470), destroyed by a storm in 1539; the ‘high’ cloisters (late 13th century) and the ‘low’ cloisters (remodelled in the 19th century); the adjacent chapter house, the work of Martín de la Haya (1596); and the main sacristy (1762-1765).
Facades, doors and chapels
The main facade and doorway of St. Mary combines the original ideas of the 13th century with reforms that straddled the 17th and 18th centuries. Noteworthy is the large rose window and the characteristic spires designed by Juan de Colonia in the 15th century to cap the two towers flanking the central section of the facade. Other doorways – with the corresponding facades – are the Puerta Sarmental (1230-1240) and the Puerta de la Coronería (1259-1257) – noted for their splendid sculptures and carvings, among the best examples of the Gothic style in Spain – and the Puerta de la Pellejería by Francisco de Colonia (1516).
Of the chapels, particularly noteworthy is the Chapel of the Constable (15th-16th centuries), the work of the Colonia family, containing several Gothic tombs and an altarpiece by Diego de Siloé and Felipe de Bigarny. Other chapels are the Chapel of St. Thecla (18th century), the Chapel of St. Anne (late Gothic, 15th century) – also the work of the Colonia family, with an altarpiece by Gil de Siloé and with several Gothic and Renaissance tombs (also by Gil de Siloé) –and the Chapels of St. Nicholas (13th century), St. Henry, the Blessed Christ of Burgos, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, etc.