Wednesday, October 11, 2017


The bus for Silos left at 5.30 pm. Burgos bus station was buzzing with pilgrims in the late afternoon, with ALSA buses departing in every direction. There were a couple of armed police patrolling the place with a fierce Alsatian dog, presumably looking for drugs.

The bus went through 5 small villages, one on a twisting mountain road. I noticed big arrays of wind turbines on the way south. We finally arrived at 6.50 pm. Cost of bus: €6.45.

My hotel was just across the road and I had 5 minutes to check in and get to the Monastery church in time for Vespers at 7.00 pm. This is the home of the famous Gregorian Chant sung by monks, the recording of which rose to the top of the charts in 1994. There were 20 Benedictine monks singing for a congregation of about 50.

My hotel was rather a Fawlty Towers kind of place and a totally chaotic. The lady boss (obese and limping) was carrying on a shouting argument with her husband, serving at the bar. There were about 5 people waiting to check in, the phones were ringing constantly and nobody was answering. I wanted something to eat, but nothing would be available till 8.30, they said, and I didn't trust them to actually deliver! They finally gave me some bread and cheese and a beer. (Luckily I'd had a late lunch in Burgos at Casa Pancho).

This morning I discovered that it is the Feast of the Virgin of Pilar, so the tours of the Monastery only start at 12.00 and not 10.00 as I was expecting. What a pest! To kill some time, I walked around the monks' vegetable garden. This is a walled garden covering a huge area. They do well for themselves with fruit trees and an array of 18 big solar panels. There were rows of onions bent over to ripen, and rows of leeks banked up to blanch them. Not bad!

The water supply came from a diverted stream, and included a spot outside the walls where the Monastery servants would have done the washing in the old days.

Then there was nothing for it but to attend the 11.00 am mass. This morning it was a much more elaborate affair, with more monks taking part, most of them wearing white robes instead of black, and the two highest in rank wearing beautifully embroidered cloaks. 

After the one hour service it was time for the tour of the Monastery. A long queue had formed outside in the hot sun and progressed slowly as people paid the €3.50 admission fee. The tour of the cloister was of course all in Spanish, but I had some Wikipedia notes with me. We were taken briefly into the ancient pharmacy, with bottles and drawers of herbs intact (no photos allowed in here!) and a copper still, like those used for producing whiskey. There was also a specialist pharmaceutical library, and a museum in the former monks' refectory. I pondered taking an illicit photo, but didn't want to risk having my camera confiscated!

The mad SeƱora came up trumps calling me a taxi to go to Lerma, even though the lines were busy as it's a feast day, and I knew they would charge over the top but I had no choice! Finally one taxi agreed to come for me at 2.30 pm.

Last piece of Burgos street art

Ham and melon for lunch at Casa Pancho

Wind turbines on road south

Monastery vegetable garden

Monastery well

Water supply

Washing spot

Hotel Tres Estrellas

Monastery church


Sculpture of Doubting Thomas

Cloister painted wooden ceiling

Detail of cloister floor


  1. The photos look a bit like my sculpture class! Sounds like a very religious 24 hours . I would like to have heard the chant.

  2. I never go to church in real life! I'm sure you can find the Chants on YouTube if you search!