Hospital de Tavera, Toledo, Spain

Category: Toledo

Are you planning a Spanish vacation that will include a stop in the historic and very scenic city of Toledo?  If so, one of the sites you should definitely put on your touring itinerary is the Hospital de Tavera.  Below we have provided a brief overview of this remarkable site, including some information regarding its history, architecture and the museum it now houses.

Hospital de Tavera:  Overview

History

The Hospital de Tavera, also known as San Juan Bautista Hospital, Hospital de Afuera or simply Hospital Tavera, is a very significant Renaissance-styled structure located in the Spanish city of Toledo.  It was built as a Catholic hospital and orphanage, according to an order by the Catholic leader of the time, Cardinal Tavera, the building’s namesake, and was dedicated to Saint Juan Bautista.  The church within the hospital also serves as the burial place for its patron, Cardinal Tavera.

Construction of the Hospital Tavera commenced in 1541 under the direction of Spanish architect Alonso de Covarrubias.  The building was ultimately completed and dedicated some 62 years later, in 1603, during which time several other architects took the helm and supervised the project, including Bartolome Bustamante, who completed the building.

Today the Hospital de Tavera serves as a museum—the Museum Foundation of Lerma—and houses the impressive art collections of the lineage of the House of Medina, the building’s current owner.  It includes paintings, sculptures, crafts and many important historical documents.  It also serves as a National Historical Archives, as well as an educational institution for the schools of San Juan Bautista.

Architecture

The Hospital de Tavera is constructed in the Florentine Renaissance style, except for the façade, of the church, which was rebuilt later in the 18th century, between 1760 and 1762, and is made from the very pricey material known as Genoese marble.  The structure consists of a double courtyard, church and palace museum, part of which is the old hospital.  The two courtyards are both elegantly proportioned and perfectly symmetrical, with Ionic Doric columns and a double arch that connects the courtyard to the church.

The interior of the church is exceedingly beautiful.  It features a single nave and transept dome covered with candles, much like the renowned basilica of El Escorial.  Below this is the tomb of Cardinal Tavera, designed by Alonso Berruguete. The tomb is made of white marble and is accompanied by other funeral sculptures.  The altarpiece of the church was designed by Toledo’s favorite son, El Greco, and carried out by his son Jorge Manuel.  The sanctuary is made of gold and is the work of the artist Juan Pascual.

Museum

The museum located inside the Hospital de Tavera is made up of the extensive collections of the House of Medina.  Inside you will find a large archive of historical documents, as well as many famous works by artists such as El Greco, Ribera, Tintoretto, Luca Giordano, Titian, Snyders and Jacopo Bassano, among others.  One of the highlights of the museum is the Risen Christ, a beautifully detailed sculpture by El Greco.

The museum is open every day from 10:00 AM until 5:30 PM (Closed for lunch between 1:30 and 3:00 PM) and admission is € 4.50.