The Way of El Cid

Few Spanish figures have achieved such universal fame as Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador (1048–1099).

This mediaeval gentleman, born in Burgos, was the protagonist of important military activities in the service of Christian and Muslim monarchs, in the complex religious and political panorama of Spain in the second half of the 11th century. His renowned feats included the conquest of the Islamic principality of Valencia in 1094, where he governed until his death, while respecting Muslim, Christian and Jewish customs and beliefs.

Though he was initially buried at San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery, very near Burgos, in 1921, he was transferred to Burgos Cathedral, to commemorate the 7th centenary of the basilica.

After his death, El Cid’s renown as an invincible warrior grew in the Christian territories at the border, where his epic poems were sung. Around 1200, an anonymous poet immortalised his figure in Cantar de Mío Cid, one of the most beautiful European epic poems and the first major literary manifestation written in the Spanish language.

The literary figure of El Cid thus came into being, giving rise to numerous artistic manifestations, not only in Spain, but throughout the rest of Europe and the world: poems, novels, paintings, plays and films have made this historical figure into one of the great Spanish legends.

A cultural route called El Camino del Cid (“The El Cid Trail”) is currently available for tourists. It explores the literary and historical landmarks related to this figure, through small villages associated with the Middle Ages, and vast natural spaces. The trail, which departs from Burgos and ends at the Mediterranean Sea, includes Burgos Cathedral as one of its key milestones.

The Cathedral hosts the rests of Rodrigo Díaz and his wife, doña Jimena, in one of the most important places inside the temple, under the dome. In 2021, the move of their rests is reaching 100 years. The El Cid’s wedding letter and his chest are two treasures from El Cid that are saved in the Cathedral.

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