The city of Toledo in Spain has a very rich history of more than 2000 years. Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian Kingdom, and in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V. It still has many works of art and architecture of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo is one of the three 13th-century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered to be the masterpiece of the Gothic style in Spain. It was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in 1493 when the vaults of the central nave were finished during the time of the Catholic Monarchs.
It was modeled after the Bourges Cathedral, although its five naves plan is a consequence of the constructors" intention to cover all of the sacred space of the former city mosque with the cathedral, and of ...
Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor.
Toledo is one of the Spanish cities with the greatest wealth of monuments. Toledo was declared a World ...
The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes was founded by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile to commemorate both the birth of their son, Prince John, and their victory at the Battle of Toro (1476) over the army of Afonso V of Portugal. Toledo was chosen as the site for building the monastery due to its central geographic location and because it had been the capital of the ancient Visigoth kingdom, symbolically reconstituted by Isabella and Ferdinand with the restoration of the lost unity of Spain, through the union of Castile with Aragon.
The monastery"s con ...
The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca was erected in 1180, according to an inscription on a beam, it is disputably considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. It is now owned and preserved by the Catholic Church.
Its stylistic and cultural classification is unique among surviving buildings as it was constructed under the Christian Kingdom of Castile by Islamic architects for Jewish use. It is considered a symbol of the cooperation that existed among the three cultures that populated the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages.
The synagogue is a Mudéjar ...
The Alcázar of Toledo was originally a Roman palace from the 3rd century, but it was restored under Charles I (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and his son Philip II of Spain in the 1540s. In 1521, Hernán Cortés was received by Charles I at the Alcázar, following Cortes" conquest of the Aztecs.
The façades are Renaissance in style, and it has towers and crenellated defences according to a preliminary design by Alonso de Covarrubias, subsequently completed by Juan de Herrera. After the last reconstruction it became the site of the Army offices and museum.
The El Greco Museum celebrates the mannerist painter El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541–1614), who spent much of his life in Toledo, having been born in Fodele, Crete.
The museum opened in 1911 and is located in the Jewish Quarter of Toledo. It consists of two buildings, a 16th-century house with a courtyard and an early 20th century building forming the museum, together with a garden. The house recreates the home of El Greco, which no longer exists. The museum houses many artworks by El Greco, especially from his late period. There are also paintings by other 17th-century Sp ...
The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz is a former mosque in Toledo. It is the only one of ten that once existed in the city that remains largely as it was in the Moorish period. Legend has it that a shaft of light guided the king to a figurine of the crucified Christ that had been hidden for centuries. He left his shield there with the inscription, 'This is the shield which the King Alfonso VI left in this chapel when he conquered Toledo, and the first mass was held here'.
In 1186, Alfonso VIII gave the building to the Knights of the Order of St John, who established it as the Ch ...
The Puente de Alcántara is a Roman arch bridge in Toledo, spanning the Tagus River. The word Alcántara comes from Arabic القنطرة (al-qanţarah), which means 'bridge'.
Located at the feet of the Castillo de San Servando, the bridge was originally built by the Romans after they founded the city. It was rebuilt by in the 9th and later in the 13th century by Alfonso X el Sabio. In the Middle Ages it was one of the few entrances of the pilgrim into the city.
Puente de San Martín bridge was constructed in the late 14th century by archbishop Pedro Tenorio to provide access to the old town from the west, complementing the older Puente de Alcántara linking to the east. Both sides of the bridge were heavily fortified with towers, the more recent dating from the 16th century.
The Puente de San Martín features five arches, with the largest in the middle reaching an impressive span length of 40 m. Only very few bridges in the world had reached that mark until then.
Evidence exists of an ancient monastery on the site of San Servando castle, possibly founded in the 7th century. In 1080, Cardinal Richard of St. Victor, a monk of the ancient Abbey of St. Victor in Marseille, was sent as the legate of Pope Gregory VII to the Council of Burgos held that year. One of his mandates was to ensure the adoption of the Roman Rite, replacing the ancient Mozarabic Rite used by the Christians of Iberia for centuries. He carried specific instructions for the restoration of San Servando and its adoption of Roman liturgical practice.
After surviving for sever ...
Toledo was walled by Romans, and a lot of its stones were reused later in built walls, as the original perimeter was subsequently tripled. The Visigothic King Wamba renewed the Roman fortifications, sculpting in its gates an inscriptions. The inscriptions were destroyed by the Muslims, and restored in 1575 by the Corregidor Juan Gutiérrez Tello.
The Arabs widened the city and the walls. After the Reconquista, the walls were again advanced in outer line and new gates were constructed. The gates and towers of the Walls of Toledo have survived until these days.
The Hospital de Tavera is an important Building of Renaissance style in Toledo. It was built between 1541 and 1603 by order of the Cardinal Tavera. This hospital is dedicated to John the Baptist and also served as pantheon for its patron, Cardinal Tavera. Initially it began to be constructed under the supervision of Alonso de Covarrubias, being succeeded by other architects and finishing the work Bartolomé Bustamante.
Currently the building remains the property of the House of Medinaceli and inside it is the Museo Fundación Lerma, which houses part of the artistic collections of th ...
The Roman Circus of Toledo was built during the 1st century, during the mandate of the emperor Augustus or the emperor Tiberius. Possibly, its construction was included within the plan that the emperor undertook by all the Empire to endow to all the great cities of public buildings, like thermaes, theaters, amphitheaters, or forums, with the aim of promoting the Romanization in these zones. In particular, the Roman circus was located in the north of the Roman city.
Given the size of the Circus, as it happened in almost all Hispanic-Roman cities, it was located on the outskirts of ...
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.
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