The Burgos Cathedral construction began in 1221 and was completed in 1567. It is a comprehensive example of the evolution of Gothic style, with the entire history of Gothic art exhibited in its superb architecture and unique collection of art, including paintings, choir stalls, reredos, tombs, and stained-glass windows.
The plan of the Cathedral is based on a Latin Cross of harmonious proportions of 84 by 59 metres. The three-story elevation, the vaulting, and the tracery of the windows are closely related to contemporary models of the north of France. The portals of the transept may also be compared to the great sculpted ensembles of the French royal domain, while the enamelled, brass tomb of Bishop Mauricio resembles the so-called Limoges goldsmith work. Undertaken after the Cathedral, the two-storied cloister, which was completed towards 1280, still fits within the framework of the French high Gothic.
After a hiatus of nearly 200 years, work resumed on the Burgos Cathedral towards the middle of the 15th century and continued for more than 100 years. The work done during this time consisted of embellishments of great splendour, assuring the Cathedral’s continued world-renown status. Two architects, Juan de Vallejo and Juan de Castañeda, completed the prodigious cupola with its starred vaulting in 1567, the Burgos Cathedral unified one of the greatest known concentrations of late Gothic masterpieces: the Puerta de la Pellejería (1516) of Francisco de Colonia, the ornamental grill and choir stalls, the grill of the chapel of the Presentation (1519), the retable of Gil de Siloe in the Constable's chapel, the retable of Gil de Siloe and Diego de la Cruz in Saint Anne's chapel, the staircase of Diego de Siloe in the north transept arm (1519), the tombs of Bishop Alonso de Cartagena, Bishop Alonso Luis Osorio de Acuña, the Abbot Juan Ortega de Velasco, the Constable Pedro Hernández de Velasco and, his wife Doña Mencía de Mendoza, etc.
Thereafter, the cathedral continued to be a monument favoured by the arts: the Renaissance retable of the Capilla Mayor by Rodrigo and Martin de la Haya, Domingo de Berriz, and Juan de Anchieta (1562-1580), the tomb of Enrique de Peralta y Cardenas in the chapel of Saint Mary, the chapel of Santa Tecla, and the 'trascoro' of the 18th century.
The cathedral was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on October 31, 1984. It is the only Spanish cathedral that has this distinction independently.
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.