Burgos Cathedral

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Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos
Catedral de Santa María de Burgos
Catedral de Burgos.jpg
Gothic Burgos Cathedral
Basic information
Location Burgos, Castile and León, Spain
Geographic coordinates 42°20′26.9″N 3°42′16.1″W / 42.340806°N 3.704472°W / 42.340806; -3.704472Coordinates: 42°20′26.9″N 3°42′16.1″W / 42.340806°N 3.704472°W / 42.340806; -3.704472
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Year consecrated 1260
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Metropolitan cathedral
Heritage designation 1885, 1984
Website www.catedraldeburgos.es
Architectural description
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Gothic
Groundbreaking 1221
Official name: Burgos Cathedral
Type: Cultural
Criteria: ii, iv, vi
Designated: 1984 (8th session)
Reference No. 316
State Party:  Spain
Region: Europe and North America
Overview from the north (left to right): Condastable Chapel, the Octagonal tower and the two western Flamboyant spires

Burgos Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral de Burgos) is a Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral in Burgos, Spain. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is famous for its vast size and unique architecture. Its construction began in 1221 and it was in use as a church nine years later but work continued off and on until 1567. It was primarily built in the French Gothic style, although Renaissance style works were added in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The cathedral was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on October 31, 1984. It is the only Spanish cathedral that has this distinction independently, without being joined to the historic center of a city (as in Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Ávila, Córdoba, Toledo, Alcalá de Henares or Cuenca) or in union with other buildings, as in Seville. It is similar in design to Brussels Cathedral.

History[edit]

The construction of the cathedral was ordered by King Ferdinand III of Castile and Mauricio, the English-born Bishop of Burgos. Construction started on the site of the former Romanesque cathedral on July 20, 1221, beginning at the chevet, which was completed in nine years.

The high altar was first consecrated in 1260, then there was a lengthy hiatus of almost 200 years before construction was recommenced. The cathedral was completed in 1567, with the completion of the lantern spire over the main crossing (which rises above a delicate openwork star vault).

The architects who directed its construction were a Frenchman in the 13th century and a German in the 15th century. In 1417, the bishop of Burgos attended the Council of Constance and returned with the master builder John of Cologne (Juan de Colonia), who completed the towers with spires of open stonework tracery.

Among the most famous of the bishops of Burgos was the 15th-century scholar and historian Alphonsus a Sancta Maria.

In 1919 the cathedral became the burial place of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar ("El Cid"), and his wife Doña Jimena. On October 31, 1984, it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It had very important modifications in the 15th and 16th centuries (spires of the principal façade, Chapel of the Constable(es) by Simón de Colonia, cimborio of the transept by Juan de Vallejo: these elements of advanced Gothic give the cathedral its distinguished profile). The last works of importance (the sacristy or the Chapel of Saint Thecla) occurred during the 18th century, the century in which the Gothic statuary of the doors of the principal façade was also transformed.

At the beginning of the 20th century, some semidetached construction to the cathedral was eliminated, such as the Archepiscopal Palace and the upper floor of the cloister. The style of the cathedral is Gothic, although it has inside some Renaissance and Baroque decorations.

The cathedral contains the works of artists such as the architects and sculptors of the Colonia family (Juan, Simón and Francisco), the sculptors Gil de Siloé, Felipe Vigarny or Juan de Anchieta, the sculptor and architect Diego de Siloé, the grillworker Cristóbal de Andino or the painter Sebastiano del Piombo ("Holy Family"), among many others.

Sebastiano del Piombo, Holy Family (c. 1520), Burgos Cathedral.

The principal façade is similar to the French cathedrals of Paris and of Reims. It consists of three bays topped by two lateral square towers. The steep spires are a German influence that were added in the 15th century and are the work of Juan de Colonia.

Some elements of great interest within of the cathedral are the 'Papamoscas' (Flycatcher), an articulated statue which opens its mouth upon the sounding of the bells every hour, the Romanesque sepulchre of Mudarra, the vengeful stepbrother of the death of the seven princes de Lara (brought to the cathedral from its original location in the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza due to its abandonment by alienation), the carved chairs of the choir, the sepulchre of the Bishop Mauricio, the tomb of El Cid and his wife Doña Jimena, the letter of security of El Cid and his chest.

Architecture[edit]

The 15th-century west front of northern French gothic style is flanked by towers on square plans terminating in octagonal spires covered with open stonework traceries. The façade, in three stories, has triple entrances in ogival arched framing, with a gallery enclosed by a pinnacled balustrade and a delicately pierced rose window. In the uppermost story, there are two ogival double-arched windows and statues on pedestals, crowned with a balustrade of letters carved in stone: PULC[H]RA ES ET DECORA ("Beautiful art Thou, and graceful"), in the center of which is a statue of the Virgin Mary. There are more balustrades and balconies in the towers, with further open-carved inscriptions: needle-pointed octagonal pinnacles finish the four corners. The main spires are 88 meters tall, just by way of comparison, the towers of the Cathedral of Reims reach 81.50 m, 88 m in Orleans, and 69 m in Paris.

Its cruciform floorplan, with a 106 meter long nave and wide aisles, is almost hidden, in exterior views, by the fifteen chapels added at all angles to the aisles and transepts, by the beautiful 14th-century cloister on the northwest and the archiepiscopal palace on the southwest. Over the three central doorways of the main or western façade rise the two lofty and graceful towers, crowned by their spires. Many of the altars, chapels and monuments within the cathedral are of artistic and historical interest.

The north transept portal, known as the Portada de la Coronería, has statues of the Twelve Apostles. Above, ogival windows and two spires crown the portal. On the south portal, the portada depicts the evangelists at their writing desks.

The magnificent octagonal Chapel of the Condestable is of Flamboyant Gothic style, filled with traceries, knights and angels and heraldry. It was destined for the graves of Pedro Fernández de Velasco, 2nd Count of Haro, Condestable of Castile and his family.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]