Palacio Arzobispal, Toledo, Spain

Category: Toledo

If you happen to be traveling to Spain on an upcoming holiday or business trip, particularly to the Toledo region in the central portion of the country, you should really take some time to visit the Palacio Arzobispal, one of the city’s most magnificent architectural wonders.  To help you become a bit more familiar with this structure, below we have provided a brief description, including some information regarding its history, location and architectural features.

Palacio Arzobispal:  Overview

From the 13th through the 16th century, the Palacio Arzobispal, or “Archbishop Palace,” served as the formal residence of a series of mighty Archbishops of Toledo.  In the late 1200s, the palace was given over to the Archbishop Don Rodrigo Jimenez de Rada by King Alfonso VII of Spain.  The structure was originally built in the Gothic style, but because it was regularly modified over the years by order of various Cardinals, it now features a number of different styles from various eras.

The Palacio Arzobispal is located directly across from Toledo’s great Cathedral, and is one of only a few structures located along that street.  During the 15th century, a covered passageway, measuring approximately 800 meters in length, was built connecting the two structures, a renovation ordered by Cardinal Mendoza.  Later, in 1541, the palace would undergo a major renovation, under the direction of renowned Spanish architect Alonso de Covarrubias.  Not only did this remodeling project significantly add to the beauty of the palace, its strong and versatile construction made it into a valiant fortress.

Many tourists find that the most architecturally pleasing part of the Palacio Arzobispal is the main façade, facing the Town Hall Square.  It was built during the time of Cardinal Tavera, in 1543, and its design is the brilliant work of Covarrubias.  The cover of the façade consists of a large arch made of granite and stone, with heavy padded segments that fit between two pairs of columns. These Ionic-styled, fluted columns rest atop a powerful foundation and support a Doric frieze.  Located at each end of the columns is an entablature, on which you’ll find the figures of nymphs bearing the coat of arms of Cardinal Tavera.

A large and very decorative iron balcony was added to the south-facing side of the Palacio Arzobispal during the seventeenth century, and in the eighteenth century, the east façade was also remodeled, during the time of Cardinal Lorenzana.  This façade features a high cover, which opens up into to a horseshoe-shaped arch, framed by large pilasters at the bottom.

A final façade, which corresponds to access to the chapel, was added to the north side of the structure during the late 18th century.  It features a rounded arch, with rosettes in the spandrels and brackets in the key, all framed by Doric half columns.

Although much of the Palacio Arzobispal was destroyed by fire in the 19th century, today it presents as a complex whole, with exterior facing rooms, numerous bays, and facades that are internally connected by corridors.