Puerta de Bisagra , Toledo, Spain

Category: Toledo

Are you in the process of planning a family vacation or romantic getaway in beautiful Spain?  Will your travels perhaps take you to the ancient city of Toledo, situated in the scenic heart of the Iberian Peninsula?  Toledo is one of the most oft-visited cities in Spain.  Its proximity to Madrid (43 miles), coupled with its storied history and unique culture, make this small, yet important city a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

Representative of Toledo’s interesting history and culture are the many ancient structures and monuments that adorn its cityscape, many of which date back several hundred years.  One of the most famous and popular of these structures is the Puerta de Bisagra, the most well-known city gate in Toledo.  To help you become more familiar with this gateway, below we have provided a brief overview, including some information regarding its history, design and location.

Puerta de Bisagra:  Overview

The Puerta de Bisagra, or “Bisagra Gate,” is also known as the Puerta Nueva de Bisagra, or “New Bisagra Gate.”  The reason for this designation is to distinguish the gate from one built much earlier in the city that bears the same name.  That gate, now known as the Old Bisagra Gate or Puerta de Alfonso VI, preceded the (new) Puerta de Bisagra as the main entrance to the city.

The Puerta de Bisagra is technically of Moorish origin, but because the main part of the gateway was built in the 16th century, it is usually referred to as a Renaissance-style structure.  The gate was designed and built by the Spanish architect Alonso de Covarrubias in 1559, a time in which Toledo was the capital city of Castile, before the court was ultimately moved to Madrid.  Construction of the gate was ordered by Emperor Charles V.

At first glance, the Puerta de Bisagra looks a lot like a castle, with an entrance arch protected by two towers, a courtyard, and a second inner body that allows the closing of the gate from inside.  It is this second, less visible inner body that retains the original Muslim elements, while the rest is purely Renaissance.

The Puerta de Bisagra has two sides.  The one that faces the city opens up with a semicircular arch, flanked by two square towers with roofs and decorated with the coat of arms of Charles I. This coat of arms, displayed proudly on the twin towers, features a double eagle, with dual images of kings that seemingly serve as earthly judges perched high above.  The outer side has an arch that bears Toledo’s coat of arms; an arch flanked by two enormous circular towers.

An interesting feature of the Puerta de Bisagra is the battlements, which one might deduce were added to the gate for protection against an invading army.  However, because the battlements on this gateway are very low to ground, most historians believe that the Puerta de Bisagra was not built to defend Toledo, but rather constructed as a symbol of the Emperor’s power.

The Puerta de Bisagra is well-known throughout Toledo as an entryway towards some of its most famous structures and monuments.  If you pass through the gate to the left, for example, you can climb to Toledo’s highest point, where among other attractions you’ll find the ancient defense fort known as El Alcazar.  Other points that can be accessed through the Puerta de Bisagra include Zocodover Square, Toledo’s main plaza and gathering spot; and La Juderia, the Jewish Quarter, where, during the Muslim era, the city’s Jews once lived and worked prior to their expulsion in 1492.

The Puerta de Bisagra is located on the Calle Puerta de Bisagra, 45003 Toledo, Spain; there is no fee to see this attraction.