Inside Burgos Cathedral

posted in: Spain | 3

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.

High Altar Burgos Cathedral

And in the apse, behind the high altar, there are the most magnificent carvings by Phillip of Burgundy, dating from the 15th-16th century.

Carved screen behind the high altar in Burgos Cathedral
Carved screen behind the high altar


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.

The outside of the choir
The outside of the choir

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.

Inside the choir which is built of walnut wood, in Burgos Cathedral
Organ pipes in the choir
Organ pipes in the choir

Carvings in the cathedral

Transept in Burgos Cathedral
Looking up from the transept
Dome over the transept
Dome over the transept
clerestory windows and carvings Burgos Cathedral
Clerestory windows and carvings

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.

The Golden Stair
The Golden Stair
Woodwoses? on the doorway into the Constable’s Chapel


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!

Papamoscas in Burgos Cathedral

The Cloisters

The cloisters are on two floors and they are unusual in that the windows are all glassed in.

Door inside the cathedral leading into the upper level of the cloisters
Upper level of the cloisters in Burgos Cathedral

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.



3 Responses

I would love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.