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Exploring the Heart of Burgos: From Cathedrals to Scenic Lookouts — Our Perfect Family Stopover

Experiences from our road trip to Portugal (part 7)

By Gabriela Trofin-TatárPublished about a month ago 6 min read
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Burgos Cathedral, photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Welcome to the tale of our beautiful road trip to Portugal. Check my previous stories for our adventures and beautiful places we visited.

Note: This article does not contain any affiliate links.

Arrival in Burgos and First Impressions

We arrived in Burgos in the evening, after having enjoyed the beach in Biarritz and crossing the Pyrenees Mountains under heavy rain.

Printscreen from GoogleMaps

It was the first time we had rain during our trip. However, the motorway was very good and there was little traffic on the way. It was June, and not yet the holiday season in Europe.

The Pyrenees were impressive.

We took the A15 route because that’s how the GPS advised. We had a really scenic trip towards Pamplona. Our initial plan was to go straightway through Mondragon and south, but one needs to be flexible, as there may be various traffic changes along the way.

Crossing the Pyrenees and arriving in Burgos, photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Crossing the Pyrenees and arriving in Burgos, photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Crossing the Pyrenees and arriving in Burgos, photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

We had started the day in Carcassonne. So we were pretty tired by the time we got to our cozy Airbnb in downtown Burgos. We parked our car in a paying underground parking place, that seemed like a safe choice.

A quick evening walk and we managed to get a feel of the old town. Burgos gives a romantic vibe, yet with our kids roaming around it felt like a fairytale playground.

After all, when traveling with kids all alleys and old pathways become fun places for running and jumping around.

Evening snapshot, Burgos with the 14th-century city gate Arco de Santa María — Photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

For dinner we bought a selection of empanadas from Las Muns, The Heart made empanadas. They were delicious in every sense, an explosion of taste and flavor. We ate them inside and also had some white wine brought from France.

Delicious empanadas from Las Muns, photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Empanadas are savory pastries. They consist of a thin, flaky dough that envelopes a delicious filling, often a combination of meats, vegetables, and aromatic spices. They are known for their versatility, coming in various shapes and sizes, from crescent moons to rectangular packets.

Ours were half-moons, hence the “muuns” on the box. Elige, muerde, muuuns! means Choose, bite, mmmmm! >> A fun word play.

A bit of history and interesting facts

Burgos. (2023, July 20). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgos

As you step into Burgos’ old town it feels like you’re stepping back in time. The cobblestone streets have seen more than their fair share of footsteps for over a thousand years.

These cobblestreets are really something! You can practically feel the old vibe. Our youngest really loved walking sround and climbing the old stairs. Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Burgos means “villages”.

It is the capital and most populated municipality of the province of Burgos. The Camino de Santiago is a famous hiking road (is (a network of pilgrims’ ways) that runs through Burgos.

The area around Burgos has been inhabited since ancient times and old bone fragments attest the oldest known evidence of hominid settlement in Western Europe and of hominid cannibalism anywhere in the world.[1]”.

The archaeological site of Atapuerca is located in the province of Burgos in the north of Spain and is notable for its evidence of early human occupation. Wikipedia

In Roman times, the region of Burgos was part of Vasconia. The Vascones (a pre-roman tribe) are often considered ancestors of the present-day Basques.

Vascones. (2023, July 28). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vascones

FUN FACT:

The Basque language, also known as Euskara or Euskera, is the sole survivor of the languages that were spoken in southwest Europe before the area was Romanized in the second to first centuries BCE. In a region of around 3,900 square miles (10,000 square kilometers) in Spain and France, the Basque language is primarily spoken. (source)

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Burgos became part of the Visigothic Kingdom and later came under Moorish control in the 8th century.

During the 9th-10th centuries:

Burgos was reconquered by Christian forces during the period known as the Reconquista, gradually pushing back the Moors.

In 884: King Alfonso III of Asturias established Burgos as a major defensive outpost against the Moors, contributing to the city’s growth and significance.

During the 15th-16th centuries, Burgos experienced a period of prosperity due to its strategic location on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.

Between 1936 and 1939, Burgos served as the capital of the Nationalist faction during the Spanish Civil War, which had a significant impact on the city’s history and development.

Since the 20th century, Burgos has seen plenty of urban development, industrial growth, and cultural preservation.

The Enchanting Old Town Experience

After a good night's sleep, we decided to explore the old town, the cathedral, and a lookout point on top of the hill.

We entered through the Arco de Santa María city gate. This is an impressive renovated structure, beautifully decorated with famous people from the city of Burgos and the Castile region.

It is one of the twelve medieval gates the city had during the Middle Ages.

Arco de Santa María — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

The kids were very interested in the roasted chestnut vendor statue at the entrance. They took turns in touching the golden chestnuts and marveled at the old lady’s figure and dress.

Bronze statue of a roasted chestnut vendor: La Castanera— Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Imagine walking around these old and new structures, mostly renovated, yet keeping intact the medieval feeling. It was marvelous and it felt like a unique experience.

We basically walked around the cathedral and made our way towards the hill close by, as we wanted to see the view from the top.

Walking in the old town of Burgos, Spain — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Walking in the old town of Burgos, Spain — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Walking in the old town of Burgos, Spain — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Walking in the old town of Burgos, Spain — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Here we were climbing the hill, and the kids were super happy because they love climbing stairs.

Climbing to the panoramic view point, Burgos, Spain — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

The view from the top of the hill was breathtaking! I couldn't stop looking and taking in the beauty of the scenery.

Burgos, overview from the north, top of the hill — Burgos, Spain — Photo by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Exploring the Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral, inside and outside, Photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Burgos Cathedral, inside and outside, Photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Burgos Cathedral, inside and outside, Photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos (Spanish: Santa Iglesia Basílica Catedral Metropolitana de Santa María de Burgos) is a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary located in the historical center of the Spanish city of Burgos. Its official name is Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María de Burgos. Wikipedia

I entered the Cathedral alone because the kids were not yet interested in quiet spaces. It is a towering masterpiece built in the 13th century, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

This impressive cathedral boasts 38 altarpieces, several chapels, and elaborate religious art. It is also the ultimate burial place of the great El Cid. The art inside is impressive and intricate.

If you want to read everything about the cathedral check this link.

Pastries in the park and a bronze sculpture

We bought some local pastries with cream and coffee and enjoyed them in the park, a lush greenery place with statues and benches, from which we could still see the famous cathedral.

A walk in the park — Photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár
Sculpture Urban Guard, Burgos — Photos by the Author Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

After our beautiful exploration of the old town, we went to the parking place and continued our way. Before leaving we noticed this bronze sculpture of an urban guard. This work was made in 2010 by sculptor Augustine Bukari Ayaab-win Aweasi (Ghana), through the Alfa Arte Foundry. It is located in the Plaza de Vega in the city of Burgos, Spain.

The next stop on our trip

We left Burgos and continued our trip to Ericeira, crossing Spain towards south west and entering Portugal at Fuentes de Oñoro.

Stay tuned for the next story in this series.

  • Have you been to Burgos or the surroundings?
  • Have you tried empanadas or other Basque country delicacies?

Let me know in the comments if you experienced Basque culture and cuisine.

Stay human, be loved,

Gabby

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***I originally published this article on Medium.***

Thank you for reading! Your support means a lot and fuels our passion for travel and my motivation to write about our experiences. It takes me a few hours to craft an article about various travels, and we do travel quite a lot! So expect more in the future :)

I write about our travels with kids and our parenting journey. We hope to raise money for our next trip this coming summer. We plan another road trip across Europe to reach the Atlantic again.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for all the stories in this Portugal Trip series and other travels with our kids, too.

If you feel generous, send me a tip, Buy me a coffee, or a tea, and let’s chat in the comments.

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About the Creator

Gabriela Trofin-Tatár

Full Stack Developer in the making and mother of 3 littles. Curious, bookaholic and travel addict. I also write on Medium and Substack: https://medium.com/@chicachiflada & https://chicachiflada.substack.com/

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  • Zélia Alyieabout a month ago

    Wow such beautiful photos! I loved reading about your trip and experiences!

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