The construction of the cathedral was ordered by King Ferdinand III of Castile and Mauricio, the English-born Bishop of Burgos. Construction started on the site of the former Romanesque cathedral on July 20, 1221, beginning at the chevet, which was completed in nine years.
The high altar was first consecrated in 1260, then there was a lengthy hiatus of almost 200 years before construction was recommenced. The cathedral was completed in 1567, with the completion of the lantern spire over the main crossing (which rises above a delicate openwork star vault).
The architects who directed its construction were a Frenchman in the 13th century and a German in the 15th century. In 1417, the bishop of Burgos attended the Council of Constance and returned with the master builder John of Cologne (Juan de Colonia), who completed the towers with spires of open stonework tracery.
Among the most famous of the bishops of Burgos was the 15th-century scholar and historian Alphonsus a Sancta Maria.
It had very important modifications in the 15th and 16th centuries (spires of the principal façade, Chapel of the Constable[es] by Simón de Colonia, cimborio of the transept by Juan de Vallejo: these elements of advanced Gothic give the cathedral its distinguished profile). The last works of importance (the sacristy or the Chapel of Saint Thecla) occurred during the 18th century, the century in which the Gothic statuary of the doors of the principal façade was also transformed. The principal façade is similar to the French cathedrals of Paris and of Reims. It consists of three bays topped by two lateral square towers. The steep spires are a German influence that were added in the 15th century and are the work of Juan de Colonia.
Some elements of great interest within of the cathedral are the ‘Papamoscas’ (Flycatcher), an articulated statue which opens its mouth upon the sounding of the bells every hour, the Romanesque sepulchre of Mudarra, the vengeful stepbrother of the death of the seven princes de Lara (brought to the cathedral from its original location in the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza due to its abandonment by alienation), the carved chairs of the choir, the sepulchre of the Bishop Mauricio, the tomb of El Cid and his wife Doña Jimena, the letter of security of El Cid and his chest.