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Burgos is a large, not particularly charming city, but of historical interest. The capital of Old Castile from 951 to 1492 (when it lost its position to Valladolid), Burgos, has strong associations with the victorious Reconquest. Spain's epic hero, El Cid Campeador (champion), was born Rodrigo Díaz in nearby Vivar in 1026. His exploits in regaining Spain from the Moslems were immortalized in the first Spanish epic poem in 1180 and subsequent literary works. He and his wife, Ximena, are interred in the transept crossing of the cathedral.The cathedral is, without doubt, the leading attraction of Burgos. Surpassed in size only by the cathedrals of Seville and Toledo, the flamboyant Gothic structure was begun in 1221 by Ferdinand III (the Saint) and completed in the 16th century. The artworks in the many chapels inside constitute a veritable museum. The two-story cloister contains much stone sculpture of the Spanish Gothic school. Do not fail to walk around the outside to see the marvelous decoration of the various portals. On the south side of the cathedral, if you walk toward the river, you pass through the highly ornate city gate called the Santa María arch. After crossing the river, you continue down Calle Miranda to the Casa de Miranda, an archaeological museum. North of the cathedral, you can ascend the hill that harbors castle ruins and affords excellent city views. Enjoy the pretty pedestrian street along the riverfront, with its shops, lively bars, and cafés.