Modern Art Makes a Stop in Medieval Burgos, Spain
The picturesque village of Burgos, Spain, is already an ideal stop for a fall trip. But a new display of Henry Moore sculptures makes this medieval village a must-visit.
Located just two and a half hours north of Madrid by train, the Castilian provincial capital of Burgos has always offered a nicely focused day trip to see spectacularly preserved medieval architecture, and to try some of the region’s best-known delicacies—red wine, blood sausage, and a number of standout cheeses.
The city’s 13th-century gothic cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also the final resting place of El Cid, a native son and national hero, born nearby in 1043, whose military exploits have since been celebrated in opera and cinema (with no less than Charleton Heston in the title role).
Just across the Arlanzón River is the Museum of Human Evolution, which opened in 2010. Set in a boldly modern building designed by Juan Navarro Baldeweg, the museum presents some of the world’s oldest and most important human fossils, which were discovered in the nearby Sierra de Atapuerca.
For many Spaniards, part of the city’s charm (or notoriety) is its tendency to be considerably colder than virtually anywhere else in the country during much of the year. So early fall is a great time to visit, as the season’s nascent chill will make the region’s hearty, stick-to-your-ribs gastronomy even more appetizing.
Related: Incredible Medieval Castles
Modern art lovers have an added inducement to visit now, as six monumental bronze sculptures by Henry Moore are on display in the plaza around the Arch of Santa Maria, one of the massive gates to the medieval city that looks like a church altarpiece writ large in massive gray stone blocks.
The presence of Moore’s sinuous and highly abstracted reclining figures and other forms amid such grandly ornate architecture provides an interesting juxtaposition for viewing both. On view until October 25, the sculpture display is part of the Art on the Street (Arte en la Calle) program, a collaboration between the philanthropic foundations of La Caixa bank and Caja de Burgos with the Burgos city hall.
Andrew Ferren is on the Spain beat for Travel + Leisure. He lives in Madrid.