A well earned rest day in the city of Burgos. As with all the Refugios we had to leave by 8.00am , after which they shut for cleaning and open up again around Midday for the next wave of ” Peregrinos “. A Pilgrim isn’t allowed to spend more than one night in any Refugio so I booked into a Hotel opposite the spectacular 13th C Cathedral de Santa Maria that dominates the City.
Burgos is the 2nd largest city on The Camino Frances with a population of 175,000. It is referred to as the Gothic capital of Spain and was the seat of Franco’s Government until 1938. I can vouch for the fact that it is a beautiful city and this weekend was a great time to be there due to the festivities. It more than made up my experience in Pamplona.
The festivities seemed to centre on El Cid ( who was born near the city ) and there was a medieval theme to it all. Every other person seemed to be dressed in medieval costume , the children too. There was a concert of classical and regional music outside the Cathedral in the morning. Throughout the day there were ” knights” jousting and stick fighting down by the river. There were costumed basket weavers , blacksmiths , puppet makers and others. A bunch of musicians wandered the city all day playing the Spanish version of the bagpipes and drums . All in all it provided a terrific atmosphere and the place was teeming with visitors. In the evening there was a great torchlit procession of all the costumed people and the horses through the city.
Earlier in the day I’d come across Conor , Sylvia ( the Mexican lady who’d slept on the mats with me in Viana ) and Jolante having a coffee in the square. Conor had arrived in the morning and was ending his walk after completing 1000km from Le Puy. We arranged to attend the Pilgrims Mass at 7.30pm in the Cathedral ( this is a daily event at which the Priest gives the Pilgrims a blessing ). The service took place in one of the many chapels within this amazing structure and there were a good few Pilgrims there ( of all faiths ) as well as local people. Whilst the service was going on I was admiring yet another incredibly ornate guilded altarpiece when I noticed our old friends the cock and the hen ( see below ) . This time they were in representative form at the feet of San Domingo. Crowning the altarpiece was yet another gruesome statue of Santiago ” Matamoros ” slaying a few more Moors.
Later on I met up with Omar , Martin , Tim , Jolante and Peter ( object of the shepherd’s desire ) for Tapas and a few glasses of Sangria. A great day in a great city. I can heartily recommend a stay here , preferably during one of the fiestas , you’ll love it .