Burgos was originally founded at the end of the 9th century in a bid to repopulate these northern plains. From the expulsions of the Muslims (around the end of the 11th century) it quickly became one of Castilla’s most important city. It was here that the Catholic Kings Isabel and Ferdinand welcomed home Christopher Columbus after his second voyage to the new world, and it was here where General Francisco Franco was publicly proclaimed as Generalísimo in 1936 and which would serve as the dictators base of operations until the end of the civil war.
Set along the wonderful Río Arlanzon, the city was built with massive walls and even more massive gates. In spite of this, the territory of Burgos (but more to the point Castilla) was widely disputed. The seed for much of the fighting was the will of King Fernando I, who although wise enough to rule over the northern regions, was not too clever in managing his estate. He chose to divide the north into three regions upon his death, with each region going to a different heir.
Alfonso VI received León, García received Galicia, Sancho II received Castilla, and his daughter Urraca received the city of Zamora.
This led to more land disputes, and in the end, it was Alfonso that reigned over the whole territory and was crowned the emperor of the Iberian Peninsula. This was at the end of 11th century, and the wealth collected by Alfonso from tariffs throughout the peninsula was transformed into palaces and a Cathedral, catapulting Burgos into prosperity.
Burgos is also the home of El Cid, a fierce warrior, and cunning politician. He was banished from the city by King Alfonso for having forced him to take an oath attesting to his innocence in the death of his brother Sancho. El Cid would eventually turn down an invitation to return and fight for Alfonso, and instead traveled east to Valencia where he maneuvered himself into a kingdom of his own. He is now buried in the Cathedral.