When you step inside Burgos Cathedral1 it is dark, but glowing, and as your eyes become accustomed to the low light I defy you not to gasp. The cathedral is covered in decoration, sumptuous, and extravagant.
The High Altar
The high altar dates from the second half of the 16th century. Rodrigo and Martin de la Haya, both natives of Burgos, directed the work of several artists in creating this magnificent and glittering work from 1562. Rodrigo, who started the work, was apparently inspired by the high altar of the cathedral in Astorga.
And in the apse, behind the high altar, there are the most magnificent carvings by Phillip of Burgundy, dating from the 15th-16th century.
The choir is in the body of the church and dates from the west 1500s. This change of position was imposed on Spanish churches after 1500.
Bishop Maurice of Burgos (1217-38) laid the foundation stone of the present, second cathedral and his tomb is now inside the choir. Obviously it has been moved. Bishop Maurice studied in Paris and lobbied strongly for a Spanish Cathedral to be built in the Gothic style. Burgos Cathedral is Spain’s first church in this style and the third largest church in Spain after Toledo and Seville.
Carvings in the cathedral
The Golden Stair leads from the north door down into the transept. The black and gold railings were made by Diego de Siloe in 1519.
There is a curious statue high up on the left nave of the church, near the west door. Papamoscas dates from the 16th century and when he strikes the hour on the bell he opens and closes his mouth. It is curious but slightly underwhelming. Nevertheless, a touch of levity!
The cloisters are on two floors and they are unusual in that the windows are all glassed in.
As you stand inside Burgos Cathedral you can be almost overwhelmed with the virtuoso display of architecture, artistry and carvings. It is very popular with tourists and a 10€ ticket gives unlimited to the cathedral and two other churches, and I loved to pop in. But somehow it didn’t have a religious atmosphere, something I found elsewhere in the town.
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