Saving the Best for Last: Exploring the History and Gastronomy of Burgos City, Spain

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Exploring Burgos: The Gastronomic Capital of Spain

Burgos, Spain—the renowned 2013 Spanish Gastronomy Capital, the home of 1984-UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site Burgos Cathedral, the home of three museums, the home of at least four historically significant structures, and the modern-day kingdom of Castilla y León’s capital during the 11th century.

Old and New
Old and New

With an elevation of about 856 meters above sea level, this inland city in Castilla y León features a Mediterranean climate year-round, but the harsh winters and the hot summer days don’t stop people from visiting the city of Burgos—I’m sure of this, because it didn’t stop me and my fellow travelers.

Beautiful River near our Hotel
Beautiful River near our Hotel

After visiting the Rondilla de Santa Teresa in Valladolid, Spain, our next stop was in Burgos. It was the last city we were to visit in Castilla y León, and as the famous saying goes “save the best for last”, I don’t regret having Burgos City as the last city on our itinerary.

Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral in Burgos, Spain
Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral in Burgos, Spain

We travelled from Valladolid to Hotel Silken Gran Teatro, a hotel in Burgos. We left our bags in our respective rooms, and, like the usual, waited for everyone to gather in the lobby before going to our first destination, the Cartuja de Miraflores.

Facade of Cartuja de Miraflores Chapel
Facade of Cartuja de Miraflores Chapel

Cartuja de Miraflores, which is called the Miraflores Charterhouse in English, is a Carthusian monastery located about four kilometers east from the heart of Burgos City.

View from Cartuja de Miraflores Chapel Entrance
View from Cartuja de Miraflores Chapel Entrance

Upon seeing the Miraflores Charterhouse myself, I could readily see the time and passion poured into the construction of the building. The exterior of the main building, which is of greyish-white color, is clearly visible against the blue sky since its construction in the 1400s. We went inside, past the walls surrounding the entrance.

Entrance of of Cartuja de Miraflores Chapel
Entrance of of Cartuja de Miraflores Chapel

The interior of the Charterhouse is no different as well. Every corner is a work of art. Aside from housing the marble mausoleum of King John II and his wife, Isabella of Portugal, the tombs of the King’s daughters Princess of Asturias Catherine, and Princess of Asturias Eleanor, can also be found here.

Royal tomb of King Juan II of Castile and Queen Isabel made by Gil de Siloe.
Royal tomb of King Juan II of Castile and Queen Isabel made by Gil de Siloe.

Among the artworks located inside the charterhouse, which include a wooden statue of St. Bruno, and the Annunciation by Pedro Berruguete, what perhaps stood out the most for me was the altarpiece by the artist named Gil de Siloe. The main altarpiece stands high from floor to ceiling, and from wall to wall, and I couldn’t help but bow down in admiration.

Main Altar
Main Altar of Cartuja de Miraflores. Considered the finest work of Gil de Siloe, a completely innovative
design of circles was adopted abandoning the traditional use of perpendicular lines. The rich and complex iconography is an expression of Faith in the Redemption brought by Jesus Christ.

Outside Cartuja de Miraflores
Outside Cartuja de Miraflores

From the splendor of Cartuja de Miraflores, we proceeded to the splendor of Meson del Cid Restaurante’s dishes for lunch. To parallel with the cultural and historical ambiance of Burgos’ main attractions, Meson del Cid Restaurante also offered us a wide selection of traditional Castillian dishes.

Ensalada de Escabechados de Caza
Ensalada de Escabechados de Caza at Hotel Mesón Del Cid

We had Ensalada de Escabechados de Caza for appetizer. The long-named dish featured a pickled mixed greens, with tuna as topping to balance off the sourness of the veggies.

Roasted Lamb - Corcedo Lechal Asado con Ensalada
Roasted Lamb – Corcedo Lechal Asado con Ensalada

We had Corcedo Lechal Asado con Ensalada for our main dish—a deliciously roasted golden-brown lamb with a complementary red-and-green salad. I never really liked lamb meat before, but this specialty dish changed my mind. I’m going to have more of this from now on.

Morcilla de Burgos
Morcilla de Burgos

For a side dish, we had the restaurante’s famous Morcilla de Burgos—perhaps the best black pudding I’ve ever tasted. The consistency of the rice and blood was perfect, and the cumin seeds made the flavor all the better.

For dessert, we had four small dishes of pastries and sweets. One was Quezo de Burgos con Nueces y Miel, a light and delicate soft-layered cheese cake. The other was Leche Frita, a sweet, milky fried dough, and a plate of Bizcocho de Chocolate, a cocoa-rich chocolate cake. The bowl of fluffy Helado de Vanilla finally filled our stomachs up, and we knew that we had to proceed to our next destination.

Wedding Photo Shoot outside Burgos Cathedral
Wedding Photo Shoot outside Burgos Cathedral

We headed to none other than the world-famous, UNESCO World Heritage Site of Catedral de Burgos after our scrumptious lunch. The gothic exterior of the huge Burgos Cathedral could be seen from afar, and its two towering spires dominate the skies.

Burgos Cathedral in Spain
Burgos Cathedral in Spain

Altar of Capilla de San Nicolas
Altar of Capilla de San Nicolas

Burgos Cathedral is perhaps the jewel of Burgos City, and it’s one of the places you should never miss when touring the historic city. Also, be sure to look out for the octagonal Chapel of Condestable. It’s so huge and remarkable that you won’t miss it!

Papamoscas Clock
Papamoscas Clock

Inside the Cathedral is the famous Papamoscas Clock, which, unlike its surrounding gothic ornaments, has a slightly comical appearance of a man. It is said that the El Papamoscas clock, which has been around since the 16th century, opens its mouth and plays a bell with its arm whenever an hour strikes the clock. Its unique appearance garners a lot of photographers, and I was one of those people. I took a picture of it myself, as well!

Paseo del Espolón
Paseo del Espolón

We left the vast cathedral breathlessly, and walked on the beautiful streets of Burgos. One interesting place we saw was the Paseo del Espolón. The simple, tree-lined street was almost like a passageway from a romantic, Parisian, movie. The trees were perfectly aligned and provided shade for the street. On the other side of the street were several tables and chairs of cafés and shops. It’s so peaceful there; I wouldn’t mind spending half the day seated on one of those coffee-shop chairs reading a book with a cup of coffee sometime.

Tourist Vehicle outside Burgos Cathedral
Tourist Vehicle outside Burgos Cathedral

Our last stop was at Museo de la Evolución Humana. The name of the place, which literally translates to “the Museum of Human Evolution”, is also one of the other places I recommend you see in Burgos City.
The Museum of Human Evolution completes the center of the entire museum compound, the Complejo de la Evolución Humana. During the old days, the lot on which the current Museum of Human Evolution stands was the location of the former Convent of San Pablo.

Entrance of Museo de la Evolución Humana
Museum of Human Evolution

During the 19th century, the run-down church was replaced by several military barracks. In the 20th century, with the convent and the military barracks gone, the huge lot became an informal parking lot. Soon enough, in the year 2000, some people finally decided that the lot be used for a museum, and then came the Museum of Human Evolution.

Museo de la Evolución Humana Building
Entrance of Museo de la Evolución Humana

The history of the construction of the museum itself showed human evolution, but the interior of the building showed us much more. Even if you aren’t a fan of Darwinian theories and all that, you will definitely be wowed by the archaeological sites and biological parks that are opened to tourists like us. Aside from that, we were told that in one of the levels of the museum, there lie life-sized replicas of Charles Darwin’s proposed gradual transformation of man from higher-order primates.

We ended our tour there, and left the amazing replicas of scientific interest for our minds to remember.

My Tour Buddies in Castilla y Leon
My Tour Buddies in Castilla y Leon

The day ended well, and that night, as I lied on my bed in the hotel to remember all the places I’ve been to in Burgos City that day, I doubt I would be able to accurately contain my amazing experience in my travel blog afterwards.

From a beautiful hillside charterhouse, to a colossal World Heritage Site, to a tranquil, movie-like passage, to an even more historical human evolution museum, not to mention the gastronomical adventure we had during lunch, I’m most definitely glad that we saved Burgos City the last—and the best—spot in our itinerary.

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