Burgos Cathedral

Plaza de Santa María, Burgos

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The Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María is a cathedral church of Catholic worship dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in the Spanish city of Burgos.

Burgos was made an episcopal see in 1075 by King Alfonso VI and the authority of Pope Gregory VII, who thus gave canonical continuity to the episcopal tradition of the old diocese of Oca, whose prelate appears as early as 589 as a signatory of the Third Council of Toledo, in the Visigothic period.

The monarch promoted the construction of a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the outline of which is not known, but it is presumed to be Romanesque and of the same type as contemporary works (the church of Silos, the monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza, the church of San Martín de Frómista and the cathedral of Jaca). There is documentary evidence that the monarch donated the site of a royal palace that had belonged to his father Fernando I and a small church dedicated to Santa María, which was under construction, for the great work.

In 1096 the work on this temple was completed, but it soon proved too small for the needs of a city that was the symbolic capital of the kingdom, a powerful episcopal see (the cathedral chapter already had more than thirty members before 1200) and an increasingly dynamic commercial centre. The decision to build a new cathedral was finally taken at the beginning of the 13th century. As was common at the time, the Romanesque building (of which only a few sculptures remain) was demolished and the new Gothic cathedral was built on its site, enlarged by the demolition of some adjoining houses donated by Bishop Marino.

The first stone of the new cathedral was laid on 20 July 1221 in the presence of the promoters of the temple: King Ferdinand III of Castile and Bishop Maurice, prelate of the diocese of Burgos since 1213. It can be assumed that the first master builder was an anonymous French architect - although some researchers give the name of Canon Johan de Champagne, mentioned in documents in 1227 - most probably brought to Burgos by Bishop Maurice himself, after the journey he had made through France and Germany to arrange the marriage of the monarch to Beatrice of Swabia, a wedding ceremony that took place precisely in the old Romanesque cathedral.

The construction of the cathedral, located at the point where the slope of the hill overlooked by the castle begins to rise, began with the chancel and the presbytery, where the founding bishop was buried, whose remains were later moved to the centre of the choir loft. Around the year 1240, the so-called Master Henry, also of Gallic origin, took over the direction of the works, who would later be in charge of the erection of the cathedral of León and who was undoubtedly inspired by the Cathedral of Reims, with whose façade the gable of the Burgos cathedral bears great similarities. Work progressed very quickly and by 1238, the year of the death of the founding prelate, who was buried in the presbytery, the chancel and a good part of the transept and the naves were almost finished. The consecration of the church took place in 1260, although it is recorded that divine services had been held there since 1230.

Between the second half of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, the chapels of the side naves were completed and a new cloister was built. The master Henry, who died in 1277, was taken over by the master Johan Pérez, who was already Hispanic. Other later stonemasons were Aparicio Pérez, active in 1327, Pedro Sánchez de Molina and Martín Fernández, who died in 1396 and 1418 respectively.

In the 15th century, the Colonia family added the spires of the towers of the main façade, the dome over the transept and the Chapel of the Constables. In the 16th century, in addition to the modifications made to several chapels, a new dome was built by Juan de Vallejo to replace that of Juan de Colonia (which collapsed after a hurricane). In the 18th century, the Chapel of Santa Tecla, the Chapel of Relics and the Sacristy were built.

In 2012, the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre minted a two-euro coin with the main façade and the dome of the cathedral on the reverse. A total of 100,000 coins were put into circulation.

Article obtained from Wikipedia article Wikipedia in his version of 14/09/2020, by various authors under the license Licencia de Documentación Libre GNU.