After that, you’ll be asked to close your eyes and listen. It takes a little time to tune your other senses, given that we live in a world that is mainly visual. Soon, though, you’ll notice sounds that are normally ignored – like electricity, the wind, even your own heartbeat.
This becomes the basis for the music you’ll create, recording environmental sounds, as well as sounds made with objects, furniture and even your own body. These will be mixed and combined into a unique sound art piece – your own interpretation of Burgos, which will then be recorded onto colorful cassettes.
You’ll be left with a truly unique souvenir, and with the feeling that you don’t need to be an artist to create magical art!
Pilar Cruces - As soon as you meet Pilar Cruces, you’ll understand that her love for wine is more than just passion. It’s a deep-rooted, visceral enthusiasm for all things wine. This is why she named her wine tourism and event company Lust for Wine, inspired by Iggy Pop’s famous song Lust for Life.
A wine tasting session with Pilar is not the usual formulaic affair. Pilar loves to create playful experiences, where you can learn to tell your Tempranillo from your Garnacha Tinta while having fun.
This activity takes place on the terrace of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Burgos, surrounded by the spires of Burgos Cathedral and rooftops of the city center. Depending on what you’re after, you may opt for a ‘traditional’ wine tasting, where Pilar will introduce you to the two wine growing areas near Burgos – Arlanza, known for its aromatic whites, and Rivera del Duero, the homeland of Tempranillo.
Otherwise, you can play with Pilar at ‘wine casino’, as you taste your way around a host of Burgos varietals. Participants are given chips and asked to ‘bet’ on their answers. Questions include blind wine tastings, random questions on Burgos wines chosen by spinning a roulette wheel, organoleptic questions and more. The winner will get a bottle of Burgos wine, of course!
Las Huelgas Monastery – Medieval times are also referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’, a mysterious time when life was ruled by religion mixed with superstition and authoritative norms. It may come as a surprise that during these unforgiving times, a group of women wielded considerable power in the Christian world, second only to the Pope – the Abbesses of Las Huelgas Monastery.
The Monastery is located just south of the center of Burgos, south of the Rio Arlanzón. It was built in the 12th century by King Alfonso of Castille and his wife Eleanor of Plantagenet, to become a royal pantheon. At the time, it was also common for noblewomen to join the monastery, to dedicate themselves to study and spiritual practices. For these two reasons, the monastery was extremely wealthy, thanks to donations and tributes from a large area encompassing more than 50 villages, over which the Abbess exercised unlimited authority. According to a popular saying “If the Pope could marry, he would find no more worthy wife than the Abbess of Las Huelgas”.
Visiting this monastery you’ll learn about the life and times of some of its most notable Abbesses, like Antonia Jacinta de Navarra, who received stigmata every Friday, and Ana de Austria, who escaped her monastery to follow her lover, but was then forgiven and made perpetual Abbess.
The monastery is also worth visiting to see the 38 royal tombs still housed inside, and to stroll its quiet cloisters. If you have time, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Museum of Medieval Fabrics, where you can see some rare examples of robes and dresses dating back to the 12th century.
Paleolitico Vivo – Escape the city and the present day with Paleolitico Vivo, taking a journey across time and space to the Pleistocene, when large herbivores still roamed across the Iberian Peninsula.
Paleolitico Vivo is part of a project to reintroduce large endangered herbivores back to Spain, in a reserve not far from the famous Atapuerca archaeological site. The tour aims to offer an immersive Prehistorical experience, giving you the chance to see life in the Paleolithic with your own eyes and meet its inhabitants – an experience that goes way beyond looking at fossils in a museum.
Sitting in an open safari truck, you’ll be taking a bumpy drive from the village of Salgüero de Juarros all the way to the reserve, housing European Bison, Aurochs (Prehistoric cows), and Przewalski Horses, an endangered species of prehistoric horse.
After admiring the lush nature and photographing the animals from the back of the truck, the tour continue to a Paleolithic village in the forest, where you’ll learn about the life of women with hunting, painting, fire and tool making demonstrations.
In the words of Fanny, one of the guides of Paleolitico Vivo “In the Paleolithic, women activities were the same as men. Hunting, gathering, making tools, collecting fire… and raising children, naturally”. Just in case you were wondering if women have always been superheroes, now you know the answer is yes!
Sara Camino – The history of Burgos is inextricably linked to that of the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela. Walking around Burgos you’ll find traces of the Camino everywhere – shell-shaped road markers, yellow arrows, a statue depicting a pilgrim just in front of Burgos cathedral, and many more.
The Camino is probably the ultimate transformational journey, not to mention a popular empowering experience for solo female travellers. Hiking the entirety of the Camino takes months, but it’s also possible to appreciate the spirit of the Camino on a shorter trip, ranging in duration from a few hours to a full day.
Your guide will be Sara Hernando, cofounder of Camino Travel Tours, an agency offering bespoke Camino de Santiago travel experiences. Sara will lead you on a personal journey to discover the spirit of the Camino in one day, depending on your preferences. Do you wish to stroll around the center of Burgos, exploring Camino-related sights? Do you prefer hiking the ‘secret’ variant of the Camino along the Rio Arlanzón, discovering nature and history on the doorstep of the city? Or do you wish to hike an entire Camino stage in the Castilian countryside?
Whatever is your choice, Sara will be happy to design a special Camino experience for you, complete with a personalized guidebook with her own travel tips.
Museo de Evolucion Humana – In 2001, the skeleton of a 10-year old girl was discovered in the Sima de los Huesos, part of the Atapuerca archaeological site. The girl was named Benjamina, and it was immediately apparent that this was not an ordinary skeleton. Benjamina had a cranial deformity, which would have caused a severe disability – yet, she survived up to the age of 10. This was evidence that these early hominids, who roamed the Iberian Peninsula over 500,000 years ago, cared for a disabled child.
This is one of the many groundbreaking discoveries you’ll learn about on a visit to the Museo de Evolucion Humana. The museum was designed with large, open windows overlooking the Rio Arlanzón, to create continuity with Atapuerca, a few dozen miles upstream. The entrance hall is dominated by four ‘hills’, representing the evolution of vegetation in Castille from the Pleistocene to the present day. Under two of these, you’ll find the heart of the museum collection – fossils and bones from the Sima de Los Huesos, including remains of homo antecessor, the oldest recorded homo species in Europe, discovered in Atapuerca.
You can choose to tour the museum independently, admiring exhibits like the Galería de Los Homínidos, a collection of reproductions of hominid species representing human evolution by artist Elizabeth Daynès. Alternatively, it’s possible to arrange museum tours led by Atapuerca archaeologists, who will be able to share insights and anecdotes about their discoveries.
City Tour with Rosalia – Burgos is indeed a city made by women. You just need to take a tour across the city center to see the traces of so many remarkable lives. Led by a local guide, your walking tour will start on Puente de San Pablo, in front of the statue of a woman, holding an eagle and looking proudly to the east. Doña Jimena is not just the wife of Burgos’s most beloved knight, El Cid Campeador; after the death of her husband, she became the rules of Valencia, and defended the city strenuously until it fell to the Almoravids.
A few steps away, you’ll reach Casa del Cordón, where the King and Queen of Spain received Christopher Columbus after his second voyage to the Americas. During this stop, your guide will introduce you to Isabel La Católica, a figure that still divides opinions today – fierce woman who defied gender norms on one hand, guilty of banishing the Jewish population and empowering the Spanish Inquisition on the other.
Across the river stands Burgos Cathedral, dominating the city rooftops with its vertiginous Gothic spires. However, don’t forget this is no ordinary guided tour – your visit will focus on the lives of women who crossed these sacred walls. Women like Margarita de Austria, Princess of Asturias who ended her life as the first female ruler of the Netherlands; and Mencía de Mendoza, patron of the art and sponsor of the most luxurious chapel in the Cathedral, the Capilla de los Condestables.
After your visit, you may wish to climb the steps up from the Mirador del Castillo, from where you’ll get a spectacular view over Burgos. It’s the ideal place to sit and admire this city made by women, the product of centuries of creativity, courage, and passion.