Travel

Arco de Santa María: The Medieval Gateway to Burgos

Heralding the entrance towards the ancient town of Burgos, a picturesque city around the ancient route from the Camino, the Arco de Santa María truly is a must-see while on any jaunt through the city. And not just because this is certainly one of an old group of twelve entranceways that would have marked the start of ancient Burgos…

Instead, this fantastic feat of engineering is really a beautifully carved stone masterpiece whose history goes back more than seven centuries. So that as one of the first major attractions that any visitor towards the city will be likely to experience, the Arch is best-seen at sunrise or sunset, when the golden light is at its most breathtaking and all of your photos will turn out picture perfect!

#ad | This post is sponsored by TRANSROMANICA, the Romanesque Routes of European Heritage as certified through the Council of Europe. All opinions, words, and photos, remains the ones from the editor.

A brief good reputation for the Arco de Santa María

Once upon a time, Burgos will be a walled city, using the entrances to its inner sanctum guarded by twelve magnificent gates. The Saint March Archway could have been the primary entryway and formed a significant part of the 12th-century walls which encircled Burgos, keeping the town safe and allowing its prosperous Cathedral to become one of the biggest seats of power and learning in this a part of Europe.

Like many medieval fortifications in Europe, the walls as well as their corresponding gateways were destroyed over time, using the stones repurposed for houses and other building projects. As such, the Arco de Santa María you see today is really a 16th-century reconstruction at the behest of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

You see, the look is a Triumphal Arch, i.e. the type that can be found in Montpellier, Paris, and Bucharest and would be a reward (of sorts) for that city since Burgos’ leaders supported Charles V throughout a revolt. Spend of sufficient length looking at the arch today and you’ll soon spy some of these leaders, as well as other notable figures from Burgos’ long and interesting history. Since the 1940s, the historic arch and gateway has been a listed historic monument.

How to visit the Arco de Santa María

Of course, it is likely when you are looking for the best things to do in Burgos, then your Arco de Santa María will be the very first attraction you visit. Liberated to enjoy from both the exterior and interior, you should know before you go the indoor space is now accustomed to house temporary exhibitions.

What what this means is is the fact that no two visits are ever exactly the same. Although the temporary exhibitions will always be changing, the exposed wooden beams from the ceiling aren't, and neither is the gorgeous masonry found throughout the structure. Elsewhere in the building, visitors can invariably receive an exhibition of antique pharmaceutical equipment.

Otherwise, it’s worth noting the Triumphal Arch is lit up on the nightly basis, providing beautiful viewing as well as an much more stunning photo. For the best view of the Arch and also the Cathedral in a single photo, be sure to get up on the other side of the river, around the pavement alongside Calle Merced.

Nearby Attractions and things to do in Burgos

Of course, thanks to its central location, there’s no shortage of interesting things to see and do near to the Saint Mary Archway. So, once you’ve parked up and grabbed your things to start exploring for that day (I recommend bringing along a camera!), here’s the best of nearby attractions:

Burgos Cathedral: Hands down, the most crucial (and easily most breathtaking) monument in Burgos is that of its fantastic cathedral. Constructed in the Gothic style and boasting no fewer than 38 altarpieces, countless chapels, ornate religious imagery, and of course, to be the final resting host to the legendary El C”id, there aren't many explanations why you wouldn’t be interested in Burgos Cathedral on your next visit to Spain!

Paseo del Espolón: Picture perfect plane trees line the predominantly pedestrian pathway that follows the path of the historic city walls. Dotted with benches and several cafés, this stunning walkway is the perfect avoid the hubbub of the remaining city, and offers some of the best views of the river found any place in town.

Puente de Santa Marí: Should you arrive in Burgos by car, then chances are that you’ll be parking up outside the historic city centre (in the end, the historic district from the Northern Spanish city is mainly car-free!) As such, your first historic monument in Burgos will be those of the Saint Mary bridge. Even though there has been a bridge on-site for a lot of centuries, that which you can stroll across today dates back towards the 18th-century.

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