Toledo Cathedral

Toledo, Spain

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 the former sahn with the cloister. It also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style, mainly in the cloister, with the presence of multifoiled arches in the triforium. The spectacular incorporation of light and the structural achievements of the ambulatory vaults are some of its more remarkable aspects.

The polychromatic stained glass windows date back to the 14th-16th centuries. The altarpiece in the main chapel has five sections, depicting scenes from the New Testament, along with life-sized polychromatic sculptures made of gilded wood. It was commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros and made between 1497 and 1504. The 15th century Santiago Chapel, has a flamboyant Gothic style and houses the sarcophagi of Alvaro de Luna and his wife Juana de Pimentel. The impressive choir is considered as one of the grandest in all Christendom. The grille that surrounds the choir is by Domingo de Cespedes. The lower choir stalls were begun in the 15th century depicting scenes of the surrender of cities and fortresses up until the conquest of Granada. The upper choir stalls are made up of 72 ceremonial chairs that were designed by Alonso de Berruguete and Felipe Vigarni, in the 16th century.

The so called 'Ochavo' is a large sumptuous room from the 16th century dedicated to the martyrs and witnesses of Christ, housing invaluable works of art, such as the reliquary of San Luis, a bust of St. John the Baptist and the cross of Cardinal Mendoza. It is possible to view works by Lucas Jordan and el Greco in the main sacristy.

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Details

Founded: 1226-1493
Category: Religious sites in Spain

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mackie McIntosh (17 months ago)
10€ is way steep for entry to church that isn't under construction (aka Sagrada Familia, which I will gladly pay over and over). I can understand 3-5€. Crowd control and ticketing procedures leave much to be desired, so bring your patience if this is a must-see for you. We peeked our heads in a side entrance and checked out the synagogue instead.
Rene Dowling (18 months ago)
Honestly speaking I expected a bit more although the Cathedral is beautiful it might look a bit dull because it looks very dark on the inside. The most disappointing place is the tower I expected a much better view definitely not a place to enjoy a beautiful view of Toledo. They also ask for 50 euro or Id card for the Audioguide. The worst thing about this place is that you cant pay by card for a single ticket.
Karine B (18 months ago)
I loved this cathedral. A definite yes to see it while you’re in Toledo. It is hard to believe that they would have a cathedral in this small old town but when you understand the historic significance of Toledo as a town, it made sense to have one there. It is quite big and has some unique features that I have never seen anywhere else. Please visit with a guide.
Dean Lyons (20 months ago)
A very rare 5 star review. One of the very best religious monuments I've ever been too. The Cathedral is large with many very different and unique features not found anywhere else in the world. The detail of the art and architectural work is fantastic. It's rare to want to spend 2 hours in a church! The tickets are bought outside and you get a free audio/video guide which is great. I wasn't offered a tower ticket. Don't know if I've missed something else?? Worth a visit to Toledo just for this, although it's a lovely city.
Louis Stejskal (20 months ago)
Allow some time to take this all in. We brought along our Rick Steve's Spain 2019 (highly recommended) Just excellent. Comparable opulence to the Vatican, just of course much less expansive in size and scope. The wait was very short when we visited on a Friday. We did not spend the night in Toledo but we wish we had.
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The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

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The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

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Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.