Burgos Cathedral


Lands of the Cid

Date of Declaration as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO: October 1st, 1984.
Site: Burgos Cathedral.
Location: Burgos Province.

Technial Specifications

Located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, Burgos is the second most populated city of the whole Castilla y León, with almost 180,000 citizens.

Headquarters of multiple international events, such as the Social Network Congress iRedes, and nationally, such as the ForoBurgos Meetings, during which topics such as Finance and Business are discussed, or the Castilla y León Fashion Runway show, which is also held there.

The city also has a green belt and a wide variety of monuments, among which we highlight the Santa María la Real de Huelgas Monastry, La Cartuja de Miraflores and over all, the Santa María Cathedral, also known as the Burgos Cathedral. This cathedral represents the Gothic Architecture, and has been declared World Heritage by the UNESCO.

The city is along the Camino de Santiago’s Path, and not too far off the Atapuerca Archeological Site (about 15 kilometers), both of which are also under the UNESCO’s protection.

The city is home to the Seat of the Superior Court of Castilla y León and the Castilian and Leones Tongue Institute. During the last few years, the city has experiments an important rise in the Investigation sector as a result of having complexes such as the CENIEHI, the Burgaleese Investigation Center, and the CREER AND THE ITCL among others. In the year 2015, the construction process to build the Technological Park of Burgos will take place, as well as the CAE installations, which are planned to take place in the near future too, which will work as a complex for both Transport Systems and the Service Sector.

Burgos was chosen as Spanish Gastronomical Capital in the year 2013.


Their times of glory

The Arlanzón Valley has been an ideal setting for human settlers since the beginnings of time, seeing as just a few kilometers away, the Atapuerca archeological Site, considered to be the birthplace of the first European, is located. The human remains found in the area are over 800,000 years old. In this area, specifically next to the River, we know there used to be Pre-Roman settlings as well.

The first bits of information we can find about Burgos as a city go back to the year 884, when it is believed that the Count Diego Rodriguez Porcelos founded it under the orders of The King Alfonso III. The Kings’ intentions were establishing a fortress in order to stop the enemy’s advance, the Saracens.

The city’s geographical situation, right in the middle of the main routes and paths from back then, and also located in the middle of the Camino de Santiago, facilitated its speedy growth. In the X century, Burgos was already a relevant city of Castilla and a vital key piece in the Renaissance. Highlighted citizens from back at the date would be Fernán Gómez y Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid Campeador and also the Burgos native most popular across the globe.

The XI century brings with it a downfall in the military relevance of the city, which begins to shine for its trade thanks to the Camino de Santiago and its connection with the Northern Ports. In 1075, Burgos becomes the Religious Capital, which facilitated the construction of Monasteries.

In the XIII Century, the old Roman Cathedral is taken down and over its ruins, the curren Burgos Cathedral is built in the year 1221, an outstanding gothic element in the city and one of the most beautiful cathedrals across the globe. Around the same time, the Huelgas Reales Monastery is also erected.

The city’s splendor times took place between the XV and XVI centuries, at the same time as the kingdom of the Catholic Kings. A variety of great palaces were built, such as the Casa Del Cordón, and the city reaches the 25,000 citizens, Despite all of this and due to the disregard of the exports and the relevance of the Incoming traffic from the New World, starting in 1575 Burgos loses a lot of its relevance. Halfway through the XVII century, the Plague and the hunger take the number of citizens down to 4,500.

In the XVIII Century, the city shows signs of improvement and in the XIX Century, after the occupation of the city by the French; Burgos begins to acquire its current shape. In the XX Century the first Industries begin to appear in the city and in the 60’s, the city’s’ industrial area is created, which will bring the city back to life.

The tourist activity in the area increased noticeably, when the UNESCO cataloged the Cathedral as World Heritage.


Important nuances

  • The Santa María Cathedral The Santa María de Burgos Cathedral is a gothic temple dedicated to the Holy Virgin Maria, and its official name is Metropolitan Basilica Holy Church (Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica) of Santa María de Burgos.

  • Gothic styleThe Cathedral is gothic but in its interior we can appreciate some renaissance and baroque decorative elements. The constructions as well as the reforms have been carried out using vaults of limestone, extracted from the stone quarry of Hontoria.

  • The main facade is designed in a very clear and absolute Gothic-French style resembling the Paris or Reims cathedrals, while on other hand, it uses the Cathedral of Bourges as reference for its interior.

  • StructureThe cathedral has three naves guarded by two lateral towers of squared-based. The integrated steeples of the towers have a german influence and were incorporated later on, in the XI Century, under the project of Juan de Colonia. In the exterior we can highlight the gothic facades of the Sarmental and the Coronería from the XIII Century, and the gate of Pellejería of the XVI Century, with important Renaissance and silver based influences.

  • Declared National Monument in the year 1885 and World Heritage Site in the year 1984, it is the only Spanish cathedral that withholds this title by the UNESCO independently, without being accounted with the historical city centre. It is also considered to be the Catholic temple of greatest importance in Castilla y León, given it is the only temple that is both a metropolitan cathedral and a basilica.

  • Restauration Due to the collapse of one of the facades’ figures, in the year 1994 the cathedral undergoes a restoration process. As a whole, over 30 million Euros have been invested in it, which turns it into most invested-into European Monument and the one that’s lasted longer over time.


The “Papamoscas” Site

The automaton

Panoramic of Burgos


Among the many treasures we can find within the Burgos Cathedral, one of the most popular ones is the “Papamoscas”.
“The Papamoscas” is an automated robot-like controller, representing the upper half of a human body, which every hour o´clock; it opens its mouth exaggeratedly at the same time as it moves its right arm in order to activate the mechanism of one of the bells. It resembles to be wearing rudimental clothing and its facial features are Metosphelian.

“The Papamoscas” is an automated robot-like controller, representing the upper half of a human body, which every hour o´clock; it opens its mouth exaggeratedly at the same time as it moves its right arm in order to activate the mechanism of one of the bells. It resembles to be wearing rudimental clothing and its facial features are Metosphelian. Although it doesn’t have a voice now, back at the day, its big mouth would create a loud scream which would suprise the visitors, but it was decided to turn this possibility off as it is located in a sacred location.

The origin of this odd figure goes back to the King Enrique III El Doliente, king of Castilla between the years 1390 and 11406. Referred to in this way due to its health, the story tells that he had the habit of going to the Cathedral to pray daily, and one day he saw there a woman for which he fell in love. Their eyes met and the woman recognized him, to then take off running out of the Cathedral. The scene happened again daily starting that day. The king would go and pray and when he would finish he would look for the woman, they would exchange looks and smiles but nothing else.

One day, as the woman was coming back from home, she dropped her handkerchief. The king quickly went to grab it but he didn’t return it to its owner, but rather kept it and gave his to the woman. Without saying a word, she took it and walked away rapidly. As she entered her home, the king heard a loud and painful sound that marked him. That was the last time he ever saw her. A year went by, until the day the King finally decided to go to her house and find out what happened. No one lived at the house since year ago, as a neighbor told him when he inquired. The people that lived in the house had passed away years ago due to the Black Plague. The king left the house confused and disappointed.

Many years later, the King was walking through the forest when he ran into six hungry wolves that surrounded him. Far from scared, he took his sword and confronted the wolves. Three of them died, but the other three were not going down easily. Right as he was about to give into the wolves, a loud and odd scream surprised them. Scared by this scream, the wolves ran away and the King saw the woman again. When he approached her, she dropped dead. In her right hand, she had the handkerchief that he had given her.

The King walked away broken hearted and sorrowful. Some years later he decided to call an artisan and ask him to build a Venice style clock for the cathedral. He wanted it to have the shape of a human and that each half an hour it would make a loud scream like the woman the woman made. The problem was that the king was unable to describe her beauty or the sound of her call out, so the clock manufacturer created a robot like figure with odd looks and a strange shout out that years later was silenced.



The Burgos Cathedra is the protagonist in many science fiction books such as:

  • God’s number (El número de Dios), by José Luis Corral: It speaks about the secret plans of the mine workers that built the cathedral in the XIII Century.

  • The temple’s Tresholds (Los umbrales del templo), by Francisco Javier Tabares: speaks about the Bishop Don Mauricio, in favor and supportive of the temple.

  • Concern in Paradise (Inquietud en el paraíso), by Óscar Esquivias: its main carácter is the Arcediano de Villegas.

  • The foreigner (la extranjera), by Astrid Nilsen: It tells the story about a mysterious Young foreigner that confesses her secrets to a priest in the Cathedral. .

The Cathedral is also showcased in pieces by Benito Pérez Galdós, Víctor Hugo, Alejandro Dumas, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Federico García Lorca or Toti Martínez de Lezea.