Mid November 2019 we drive from Pamplona to Burgos with the first stop over in Laguardia and Elciego and with the second stop over in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We then settle in Burgos, where we have booked the hotel for three days.
Source: Google Maps
Stop over in Santo Domingo de la Calzada – with hens in the Cathedral
Santo Domingo la Calzada is a small town with a Cathedral. “Calzada” means “paved road”. In the 11th century, Santo Domingo noticed that the trails of the Way of St. James were bad, and he spent his life repairing them. In addition, he built a bridge, a hostel and hospital here. For fixing trails, Santo Domingo received the surname “Calzada”.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada is not far from the mountains, as the window of the nice pastry shop shows.
The hospital is now the Parador of Santo Domingo La Calzada. We have coffee here to warm up.
We enter the Cathedral. Around 1100, the king of Castile had the church of Santo Domingo built that later became the Cathedral of a newly created bishopric. The choir has been freed from the altar, which allows to admire its Romanesque structure.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada’s tomb is near the choir. He is buried in the crypt.
The attraction of this cathedral is the beautifully forged cage with one hen and one coq. The animals are being replaced regularly.
The cage goes back to the legend of a German couple that pilgrimaged with their son Hugonell. In the hostel of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, the daughter of the host fell in love with Hugonell who did not return her affection. She hid a silver cup in Hugonell’s luggage. Her father, the host, noticed that one of his silver cups was missing and he asked the police to chase Hugonell. Because the cup was found in Hugonell’s luggage, the poor boy was hanged. The parents continued their pilgrimage, and, when they returned, they found their son still alive. He said that Santo Domingo had supported him all the time. They all returned to the hostel. The host said that he would only believe that Hugonell was innocent, when this coq would come to life again – it was steaming on his table ready to be eaten. The coq became alive again – and the coq and the hen in the cage of the Cathedral remind us of the miracles around Hugonell.
The cloister is a museum with sacral artifacts. The children love the large Christmas crib built out of Playmobil elements.
Burgos – we settle in NH hotel, enjoy the view of the Cathedral and eat in the Restaurant Rincon de la España
In Burgos, we settle in the NH Collection Hotel Palacio de Burgos that formerly was the Merced Monastery – a charming setting.
From our room we can see the Cathedral of Burgos named after Santa Maria. Even in these rainy and chilly November days, the sun comes out from time to time and the filigree towers shine in white.
We cross the road and enter the city center through the gate of Santa Maria (called “Arch”) .
Under the Arch of Santa Maria, the view of the mighty Cathedral of Santa Maria is overwhelming.
We have dinner in the restaurant Rincón de España near the Cathedral. It serves meals already at seven pm – all other restaurants open only at 8:00 or 8:30 pm. In the Rincón, the oven with the tiles creates a cosy atmosphere.
I have delicious veil cheeks with a tasty Rioja Ardanza Reserva from the Bodega Rioja Alta.
At night, the Arco de Santa Maria is illuminated. Carlos V of Habsburg (or Carlos I of Spain) is surrounded by the founder of Castile and by El Cid who is venerated for having fought the Moors (though the historical facts say that he sometimes also fought WITH the Moors).
The woman selling chestnuts sits in front of the gate watching the citizens and tourists walk by.
Walking around the pretty city center
Burgos stretches along the river Arlanzón.
Parks with promenades invite to walk along the river…
… and various pedestrian bridges cross the Arlanzón.
We climb up to the castle hill to get an overview of the city. Burgos has emerged around this hill with the castle from the 9th century. The castle is now a ruin for having burnt down in the early 18th century. It is snowing and raining, when we look down at the city with the Cathedral and the church San Estebán.
Strolling through the pedestrian zone of the city center
The city center of Burgos is a large zone for pedestrians.
It is so quiet that you can carelessly read in the pedestrian streets.
In this inviting shop, Ursula finds the elegant shoes she has been looking for already for a long time.
We find the old-style shoe shop with the carton piles at the Plaza Mayor.
It is an evening offering nice dawn photos of the Plaza Mayor with the Cathedral in the background.
Later, red stripes appear in the sky above the Cathedral.
This is the townhall at the Plaza Mayor…
… the columns of which indicate that the river Arlanzón has flooded this area twice in June, once in 1874 and once in 1930.
I can hardly believe that the tame Arlanzón, now flowing calmly in its riverbed, can swell to inundate the city.
The stroll through the pedestrian city center ends at the square of El Cid. His statue is nick named “bat”, because of his “flying” coat.
The Museum of Human Evolution (Museo de la Evolución Humana)
North of Burgos is the Sierra de Atapuerca, about 1000m above sea level and about 7km long, with a karst network of galleries. Since at least 1.3 million years, human beings and their antecessors as well as animals have lived here in the karst caves. They left their traces in sequential layers and archaeologists, uncovering meticulously one layer after the next, gained new insights into human evolution in Europe. The most famous discovery was this front jaw (mandibula). It belongs to a human being that lived about 1.2 Mio ago and was found in the Elephant Cave in 2007. These are the oldest remains of human beings found in Western Europe. The type of hominids has been named “Homo Antecessor”.
We have come to see this jaw, but it was not on display. It has been given to an institute for further investigation. Nevertheless, we found the museum exciting. It is well curated. In the basement floor, they show the excavations in the various karst galleries, the Elephant Cave being one of them. The bones and tools found are on display. The next floors explain the history of mankind and I learn that before the emergence of Homo Sapiens Sapiens some 100’000 years ago, the evolution of hominids began in Africa between 6 and 7 Mio years ago. Many varieties of hominids emerged and disappeared again. The museum displays life-sizes statues of some of them. With the twinkling of an eye, it lets the visitors become one of their human antecessors.
We decide to stay four days instead of three in Burgos. It has much to see and, above all, it is a charming city.
Source: Marion Golder: “Nordspanien und der Jakobsweg”, Dumont Reisehandbuch, Ostfildern 2018; Material seen and received in the Museum of Human Evolution.