Postcard from Burgos, Spain: A few parting impressions

Above, pollarded plane trees framing Paseo del Espolon

The Scarecrow, who was in the lead, walked forward to the tall tree where there was an opening to pass into, but just as he came under the first branches they bent down and twined around him, and the next minute he was seized by the long branches and raised from the ground and flung headlong among his fellow travelers.”

The Wonderful World of Oz, L. Frank Baum, 1900

Remove the brilliant blue sky from the picture, and these trees appear as frighteningly eerie as those in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The severe winter haircut, pollard, of these relatives of American sycamores lining Burgos’ beautiful Paseo del Espolon reaps a huge reward for pedestrians. The trimming encourages the trees to produce a dense canopy of green leaves shading all who pass below throughout the summer, and whimsical-shaped topiaries soften the impact during the winter months.

We welcomed the warmth of the sun late last spring, and Burgos certainly has an abundance of greenways for ambling. Below are parting shots from our time wandering there.

Aside from those emerging from the imagination of Hieronymus Bosch, the devils above are about the most frightening I’ve ever encountered in a painting. Particularly the one on the right with multiple faces in all the wrong places. These details and the one of San Miguel weighing the good and the bad are plucked from an enormous mural, “The Last Judgment” by Alonso de Sedano (1465-1533), displayed in the church of San Nicolas de Bari, which is perched just above the Cathedral on the Camino de Santiago.

Pilgrims need not fear. A huge statue of the sword-wielding El Cid (1043-1099) stands guard over the town, and San Lesmes Abad of Burgos (1035-1097), whose tomb can be seen above in the church bearing his name, is the city’s patron saint and is known to protect even the most sick and poor of peregrinos traveling along the Camino.

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