Principal landmark along the leafy Burgos riverfront – right on the Puente de San Pablo – is the magnificent equestrian statue of El Cid, complete with flying cloak, flowing beard and raised sword. The city lays full claim to the Castilian nobleman, soldier and mercenary, born Rodrigo Díaz in the nearby village of Vivar in 1040 or thereabouts. Actually, his most significant military exploits took place around Valencia, the city he took back briefly from the Moors after a long siege in 1094, but no matter – El Cid (from the Arabic sidi or lord) is a local boy, whose heroic feats (not all strictly historically accurate) have been celebrated in Spain since the twelfth century. His honorific title, Campeador (“Supreme in Valour”), is some indication of the esteem in which he’s always been held, though there’s generally a veil drawn over his avarice and political ambition, not to mention the fact that, as an exiled sword-for-hire in the 1080s, El Cid turned out for Moorish princes as easily as for Christian kings. He died in Valencia in 1099, and the city fell again to the Moors in 1102, after which his wife Jimena took El Cid’s body to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, south of Burgos, where it rested for centuries. The body disappeared to France after the ravages of the Peninsular War, but husband and wife were reburied together in Burgos cathedral in 1921.

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