Take a trip to Toledo
Toledo was the Spanish capital until 1563. It is located only 70 kilometers from Madrid, in the heart of Castile. Today, it is the capital of the province of Castilla-La Mancha. It is known as the “city of three cultures“, because here, for centuries, the monotheistic religions lived in harmony. Thus, in the old town, synagogues, mosques and churches are found side by side. It is not surprising that throughout the city, you will discover an incredible choice of historical sites through its alleys dating from the Middle Ages.
For more details, consult our Blog entry for must-sees in Toledo.
Tour guides in Toledo
Five ideas for guided tours in Toledo
Cathedral of Santa Maria de Toledo
A Gothic building, the Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo began to be built in 1226, on the site of the old mosque, and was not completed until the 15th century. The temple has 5 naves, a main facade, consisting of three doors, and a spire of 90 meters high. Its interior richness is exceptional, especially with the Transparent, emblematic, and sparkling work of Spanish Baroque art. The sacristy of the Cathedral is a real museum, with works by painters such as Raphael, Rubens, El Greco, Goya or Van Dyck.
The Jewish heritage of Toledo
A very large Jewish community lived in Toledo and throughout the Iberian Peninsula for centuries, until their expulsion in 1492. The neighborhood where the majority of the Jewish population was concentrated was to the west of the city, near the Bridge of San Martin. It is estimated that they were present at least at the beginning of the 4th century. At the end of the 14th century there were 10 synagogues and 7 yeshivas (prayer schools). Two of them are still standing today: the Tránsito Synagogue, now the Sefardí Museum, which was built in 1357 but which, according to excavations, was built over an even older temple; and the Santa María la Blanca Synagogue, built in the 13th century, which became a church in 1411, and was not restored to its original state until 1851. Around these places of worship, the original medieval neighborhood is very well preserved, and there are several well-marked routes that take you through the old Jewish quarter of Toledo. Visits usually begin around the Plaza del Salvador and the surrounding streets, where the community lived in the Middle Ages.
The Alcázar, which dominates Toledo, is located on a hill in the highest part of the city.
It was originally a Muslim fort, which was taken over in 1085. It has granite walls with a large central courtyard, and 4 towers on each side. But it was renovated and rebuilt many times. In the 16th century Charles V turned it into a sumptuous royal residence. Nowadays, the building houses the Army Museum and the Castilian Library. The diversity of the Alcázar is marked by its four facade walls, each of which has a different style and era.
The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes
The Franciscan monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo was built in 1476 to commemorate the victory of the Catholic kings over the Portuguese in the battle of Toro. The building, of great beauty, is composed of only one nave, and has several chapels in its buttresses. The beautifully renovated two-story cloister is a true symbol of the Spanish Gothic period. On the main façade, the chains of the freed prisoners can still be seen. Heavily destroyed during the War of Independence, the building was beautifully renovated and has been restored to its former splendor.
The square of Zocodover
This is the most popular main square of the city, since the Middle Ages. It is located near the Alcazar, in the heart of Toledo. Zocodover means cattle market in Arabic. It was also the site of bullfights and cucañas (a traditional game of climbing up poles). Unfortunately, it was also a place of execution during the Inquisition. Nowadays, it is the place where all the city’s festivals are celebrated, and the central meeting point of Toledo’s youth. There are many bars, restaurants and terraces to enjoy.