Monuments in Toledo, SpainCategory: Toledo
Toledo, Spain is one of the top day trip destinations for tourists visiting the Madrid region of the country. A World Heritage Site as named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the city has a long and diverse history—a place where Muslims, Jews and Christians once lived side by side in harmony with each other. Today, this confluence of cultures is palpable in Toledo’s monuments, most of which are religious in nature and display a variety of architectural styles and designs.
The Cathedral and other Christian Monuments
Perhaps chief among the many precious monuments in Toledo is the Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo, a building which to locals is known simply as “the Cathedral.” Rising high above the city’s skyline, this one-of-a-kind monument was built in the 13th century under the rule of Ferdinand III. It typifies the Gothic style of Spain, while also incorporating other architectural styles from various eras. One of the highlights of the Cathedral is the altar located in the Main Chapel, on which you’ll find glorious adornments, including full-size statues of prominent figures from the New Testament. Many famous works of art are also displayed within the Cathedral’s walls, including the Arrest of Christ on the Mount of Olives, by Spain’s own Francisco Goya; and the Twelve Apostles, by El Greco.
In addition to the Cathedral there are a number of other important monuments associated with Christianity, including the Church of Santo Tome, a structure built in the Mudejar style of architecture and home to the famous Burial of the Count of Orgaz, by El Greco; and the Church of Santiago del Arrabal, another outstanding example of the Mudejar style. Also popular among tourists are the Monastery of San Juan, built in the 15th century and designed by famed French architect Juan Gras, and the Convent of Santo Domingo El Antiguo, which houses copies of the original alterpieces designed by El Greco.
Jewish and Islamic Monuments
Although a handful of Mosques still exist in Toledo, the most significant is the Mezquita or Mosque of Cristo de la Luz. Built of brick and small stones and completed in 999 AD, this small square-shaped structure remains in remarkable condition given its age, and strongly resembles another of Spain’s important mosques, the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Although Christians assumed control of the building in the 12th century and added a transept, nearly all of the original features are still intact.
The two most significant Jewish monuments in Toledo are the Synagogue of El Transito and the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca. El Transito, or in English, the “Transit Synagogue,” was built in the 14th century in the Mudejar style, and is now home to the Sephardic Museum, a wonderful collection of items dating back to Toledo’s founding. The Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca, literally the “Synagogue of Saint Mary the White,” was similarly constructed in the Mudejar style, and features five horseshoe-shaped arches that lead to the way to the synagogue’s various naves, each featuring brilliant decorative adornments.
Other Toledo Monuments
No list of Toledo’s monuments would be complete without mentioning the Alcazar. Built in the 16th century, this castle-like fortress, built on Toledo’s highest point, features a unique square shaped exterior and has a protruding square tower on each corner. Three of its facades showcase the Plateresque, Renaissance and Medieval styles, respectively; while the fourth evokes the architectural style of El Escorial, another one of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, the Alcazar is home to Toledo’s National Army Museum.
Finally, if you plan to visit Toledo you should definitely take the time to visit its beautiful City Gates, especially the Old and New Bisagra Gates and the Cambron Gate. Formerly the primary entrance to the city, the Old Bisagra Gate was built in the 9th century by the Islamic military. The New Bisagra Gate was built in the 16th century in the Renaissance style, and features two circular towers that flank the outer wall. The Cambron gate, also built in the 16th century, is a Renaissance-style landmark of Moorish origin and the lone city gate open to vehicle traffic.