Puerta del Sol, Toledo, Spain

Category: Toledo

If you plan to travel to the Madrid region of Spain, you should really consider making a daytrip (or two) to the city of Toledo, located approximately 45 miles from the Spanish capital.  Toledo is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha and the capital of the province of Toledo.  Visitors to this picturesque city—a city surrounded by the meandering waters of the Tagus River—will find a number of ancient structures and monuments to visit, which collectively depict the heritage and culture of this great city; a city that throughout most of its history (a history that dates back to Roman times) was of great political and cultural significance.  In the article below we will discuss one of these ancient structures, the Puerta del Sol, one of the many prime attractions in this very beautiful and vibrant city.

Puerta del Sol:  Overview

The Puerta del Sol, or “Gateway of the Sun,” is one of many city gates that grace the landscape of Toledo, Spain.  Its history and beautiful architecture makes it a must-see attraction for tourists who plan to visit this ancient city.  It is located on the Calle Carretas, in Toledo, not far from the Christ of the Light Mosque and the Santiago del Arrabal Church.  It was built in the late 13th and early 14th century by the Knights Hospitaller, a group known for being one of the most famous Western Christian military orders during the Middle Ages.

Like many other structures in Toledo, the Puerta del Sol was built in the Mudejar style of architecture, a style that became the norm during Spain’s Moorish era.  It was initially built as a gate to enter the Muslim medina, prior to the expansion of the city wall.  After the expansion, however, the gate no longer had a protective function, so it instead became a second city gate (the Bisagra Gate was the first) for transit in and out of the city.

Puerta del Sol is rectangular in shape, with a semicircular design on top.  It features a large pointed arch, supported by two columns, which stands in front of the rounded gateway.  These arches are lobed at the bottom and the top, and in the center there remains an early Christian sarcophagus from the fourth century.

The rectangular/semicircular design of the gateway forms a horseshoe-shaped arch, sitting upon columns, which is slightly advanced with respect to the door. The gate is flanked by two large masonry towers, one semicircular in shape and the other square, both of which have windows and battlements for protection.  There is a medallion above the arch of the gate that depicts the ordination of the Visigoth saint, Ildephonsus, once the archbishop of Toledo and now the city’s patron saint.  The name of the gate comes from the sun and the moon that were once painted on either side of the rounded medallion; a medallion whose relief is in reference to the Imposition of the Chasuble to St Ildefonso under the sun and moon.

Mere words cannot do justice to the architectural beauty of the Puerta del Sol.  However, if you happen to be in the Toledo region, you should definitely consider putting it on your touring itinerary so you can witness firsthand the majesty and amazing detail of this ancient gateway.  And the good news:  visiting the Puerta del Sol is always free of charge.