The Cathedral of Burgos: South Portal

The Burgos Cathedral: South Portal (SZ)

An Apocalyptic scene in the South Portal. Credits: Vincent Ko Hon Chiu on UNESCO

The Cathedral of Burgos is a Gothic church. It was previously Romanesque, but after King Ferdinand married his wife in the old Cathedral of Burgos, he donated money to have a new one built (Stokstad 280). The cathedral sits on 2.47 acres and is made of stone (UNESCO). Its south portal holds a tympanum depicting an Apocalyptic scene, surrounded by three voussoirs that come to a point at the top of the arch (Stokstad 281). The pointed arches are emblematic of the Gothic style of architecture.

The tympanum is very organized, symmetrical, and balanced. For everything that is on one side of the tympanum, there is another figure or object to counter its visual weight. It even appears to be separated into different sections, as you can see vertical lines behind the tympanum sculptures. The figures are carved in high relief with some parts of the figures not even being attached to the background. The central figure is known as an important figure due to its larger size in comparison to the other figures. The folds on the clothing of the figures are described as, “broad folds of drapery,” (281). The folds are not lines cut into the stone but form their own mass as they protrude from the figures. The jamb figures on either side of the portal and the figure on the trumeau are all in high relief, as well. The heads and bodies of the jamb figures mirror those on the opposite side of the portal, following the balance and symmetry of the tympanum. The trumeau and tympanum figures also follow the organized structure as they are both frontal figures with similar hand gestures.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Burgos Cathedral.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2018,

Stokstad, Marilyn. Medieval Art. Westview Press, 2004.

Ashley, Kathleen M., and Marilyn Deegan. Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago. Lund Humphries, 2009.

Image Credits: Chiu, Vincent Ko Hon. UNESCO. 

The Cathedral of Burgos: South Portal