Controversy over new doors for the cathedral in Burgos

by Lorraine Williamson
Burgos Cathedral

On the eve of the 800th anniversary of Burgos Cathedral, some commotion has arisen about the newly designed bronze doors. They cost €1.2million and are not to everyone’s taste.

The artist is said to have depicted his own family on the doors 

The gothic cathedral of the northern Spanish city of Burgos has been included on the Unesco World Heritage List. It was also given a brand new portal in honor of its 800th anniversary in July this year. The Diocese of Burgos had commissioned artist Antonio López to create three bronze doors. The doors were depicting the heads of God, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ. And were said to be of “cultural, social and evangelical value.”

Criticism 

However, the new doors met with a storm of criticism from various quarters for the diocese. The Burgos-based painter Juan Vallejo has now started a petition on change.org to stop what he calls “gruesome creation”. The first 48,000 signatures have now been placed there. According to Vallejo, López is said to have depicted himself on the central part of the doors, his own wife as Mary and his child as Jesus Christ. This, Vallejo feels is an “artistic outrage”. 

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UNESCO World Heritage List

The International Council for Monuments and Sites (Icomos), affiliated with UNESCO, has also objected to the newly designed doors. If these doors are placed, Unesco may even consider removing Burgos Cathedral from the World Heritage List. However, the Diocese of Burgos remains convinced of the new project.  Furthermore, hopes the Regional Commission of Heritage of Castile and León has the final say on this matter. If this committee decides not to replace the doors, the new ones will be displayed in the cathedral itself as a work of art. 

Artistic quality

Not only is the artistic quality of the new doors under discussion, but the question also arises as to why the more than 200-year-old elm wooden entrance gates with their lion-shaped knockers had to be replaced. According to López, the budget could have been better used for a heating installation in the still unheated cathedral. However, the diocese finds the wooden doors from 1790 of “little artistic value” and thinks that the new doors will stimulate the city’s economy.

In honor of the cathedral’s 800th anniversary, the municipality of Burgos has allocated €700,000 to the Fundación VIII Centenario, which will enable it to make improvements to the cathedral. When Burgos de Vuelta de España (Tour of Spain) starts in five months, it will be known whether the cathedral has been allowed to keep its old doors or whether the much-discussed bronze project is shining in the Spanish sun. 

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