From Madrid it's easy to get to Toledo by train, bus or car, and,
once there, the best thing to do is tour the city on foot.
In order to really see the main places of interest, you will need
at least two days. Our recommendation is to visit the city mid-week,
that way you can avoid the large crowds that make their way there
on the weekends. It will also allow you to enjoy the city by night
or simply give you the chance to take a pleasant nighttime stroll.
visit to the city can start from any of the doorways of the city
wall. You can enter from the 16th C. Renaissance Puerta
de Cambró; The Puerta de la
Bisagra, of Muslim origin but reconstructed in 1550 in a
Plateresque style, and the main entrance to the city and location
of the 12th C. Medieval neighborhoods; or, if you like, the 13th
C. Mudejar Puerta del Sol.
going too far into the city, you encounter the first stop, La
Ermita del Cristo de la Luz (Hermitage of Christ of Light),
a small Arabian mosque that dates back to 1000 A.D. Although today
it is not possible to go inside, it deserves a look from the outside,
as it is a good example of Islamic art from the Califate era.
next stop takes us to the Iglesia de San Román,
which houses a museum relating to the Visigoth past of the city.
Right beside it, you find the Iglesia de Santo
Tomé, where you can admire El entierro del Conde Orgaz
(the burial of Count Orgaz), one of El Greco's masterpieces and
perhaps the largest painting of 16th. century Spain. (Mr. Orgaz
was an important art patron of the church and financed a large part
of the building. The painting represents the miraculous apparition
of San Agustín and San Estebán at his burial.)
having to travel too much, we find the Synagogue
of Santa Maria la Blanca, the biggest and oldest of the eight
synagogues of the city. Nothing about its outside would make you
suspect the extraordinary beauty that it holds within. Formed by
five white naves separated by horseshoe arches that rest on pillars
with beautiful Classic spires, this is a clear example of almohade
art in Spain.
The other synagogue which has resisted the passing of time is the
Sinagoga del Transito, the most splendid
display of Toledan Mudejar art. It was built in 1357 by Samuel Ha-Leví,
Jewish treasurer of Pedro el Cruel. The Casa-Museo del Greco is
just to its side.
important structure is the Monasterio de San
Juan de los Reyes, its construction begain in 1447 to commemorate
the triumph of the Catholic Kings (Ferdindand and Isabel) in the
battle of Toro, which had taken place one year earlier.
Combining flamboyant Gothic structures with Mudejar roofing and
ornamentation, the gardened plaza that lies before the monastery
is a lovely vista point over the Tagus and the country houses with
orchards (cigarrales) so typical of Toledo.
Taller del Moro,
a Mudejar palace, is an old workshop for the craftsmen who built
the cathedral. Today it is a museum of Arabian and Mudejar ceramics
route now takes us to the Cathedral,
for many, the most beautiful monument in today's Toledo. Built on
the location of a Visigoth cathedral and a mosque, this cathedral
is one of the largest in Christianity. The Gothic altarpiece, the
work of several artists, grazes perfection.
Its dimensions are spectacular, the richness of its naves and chapels
is simply awe-inspiring.
The Cathedral is a reflection of its history as a spiritual heart
and principal quarters of the Spanish Church. Today it still holds
Muslim masses, with permission from the Pope.
Construction started in 1226 and lasted three centuries until the
completion of the last vaults in 1493.
This long period of construction explains the fusion of styles:
pure French Gothic on the exterior and different Spanish ornamentation-
such as Mudéjar and Plateresque- on the inside.
Once inside, of special interest are:
El Campanario/ The belfry
La puerta del Mollete
La Custodia/ The Tabernacle
La capilla Mozárabe/ The Muslim chapel
La puerta del Perdón/ The door of Forgiveness
La puerta de los Leones/ The door of Lions
La capilla de San Ildefonso/ Chapel
to end this visit, we recommend going to the Alcázar,
a fortress-palace that was ordered to be constructed by Emperor
Carlos V in 1535 and which was erected on the site where once stood
the old Roman, Visigoth and Muslim forts.
The Alcazar presents a severe rectangular-squared profile. It suffered
the effects of fire on three occasions before being almost totally
destroyed in 1936.
Under the dictatorship of General Franco it was converted into a
symbol of military heroism.
In the center of the Renaissance patio, there stands an interesting
statue of Emperor Carlos V standing over an infidel.