San Lesmes and San Esteban are two of the many churches in Burgos. Entry to San Lesmes is free. San Esteban, which is now a museum, is included in the 10€ ticket which also gives unlimited entry to the cathedral.
A little history about San Lesmes
The church was built in the 15th century in honour of St Lesmes and to house his remains. The saint protected pilgrims on the camino and is also the Patron Saint of Burgos. The Church of San Lesmes stands in the Plaza de San Juan, opposite the Gate of San Juan through which the pilgrims enter the city. The facade is the work of Simon and Francisco Colonia, who were responsible for a lot of the important buildings in Burgos.
St Lesmes was actually born in Loudon, in 1085. There he was known as Adelelmus. He enlisted in the army, but years later decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome. On his way there he met Robert de Turlande who had just founded La Chaise Dieu and on his return from Rome he decided to become a monk and settled in the Abbey.
King Alfonso VI and Queen Constance of Burgundy heard of his piety and caring nature and invited him to settle in Burgos. They donated land and the Monastery of San Juan was built for St Lesmes. Sadly it was almost totally destroyed in the 16th century. The remains of the monastery stand next to the church, in the Plaza of San Juan.
Inside St Lesmes
The church is quiet and peaceful, which is surprising. Perhaps because it stands outside the walls of the old city it is less popular with visitors.
The church of San Esteban is just under the castle hill and dates from the 13th-14th centuries. It is the only parish church in Burgos with both a cloister and a chapter house.Today the building is the Museum of Altarpieces. The museum includes altarpieces rescued from around the province, and other religious artefacts.
In the museum
The museum is all over the cloisters and the church itself and there are many interesting pieces. One visit is not really enough to understand and appreciate everything on display, but that was all the time we had.
The Monastery of Santa Maria la Real de Vilena dates from 1222. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1970 but this tomb was rescued.
Burgos has a rich collection of churches and it isn’t really possible to visit the city without popping into, or even lingering, in several of the churches. San Lesmes and San Esteban are only two of several such sites and very different to each other.