Cave of Hercules

Toledo, Spain

The Cave of Hercules is a subterranean vaulted space dating back to Roman times located in the alley of San Ginés. The cave is under the Church of San Ginés.

The structure was likely constructed in the time of the Roman Empire, probably towards the second half of the 1st century, when it was used as a water reservoir. It is located in the east corner of the current courtyard and was built in two construction phases. It was covered with a barrel vault, realized in ashlar, and displayed the aspect of a great tank to the open sky, with an overflow at the edge. The first half of the wall, made in Roman concrete and covered with Opus signinum, is preserved, and overlooks San Ginés alley.

The structure was deeply altered with the construction of an arcade of three arches of ashlars in the southwest side. This divides the primitive one in two and currently separates it from the other half of the deposit, belonging to No. 2 of San Ginés street. It is unknown whether this change occurred in the first or second phase of construction. The second half of the northeast wall that faces the street was constructed in the second Roman phase. A facade was built in Opus quadratum of seven rows of ashlars of varying size, which is attached to the northeast lateral wall of the hydraulic structure of the first phase. The size was increased from the northwest to the southeast by creating a new line of orientation to the wall, which is the one that generates the trapezoidal plant that will have the nave. In this space, different rupture interfaces are observed along the entire surface.

In the Visigothic era, it is probable that there was a Visigothic church on the property. In the Al-Andalus period, constructions were developed, probably a mosque, in whose walls were embedded Visigothic reliefs. This mosque followed a structure similar to others of the city, being a small oratory with practically square plant, four interior columns and nine vaults or domes.

The first references to this property as the church of San Ginés come from 1148. At the end of this Late medieval epoch, or the beginning of the Early modern age, a series of changes were made, such as the creation of five individual chapels.

The building deteriorated during a prolonged period of the Early modern era. Abandoned and closed to the public during the 18th century, the church was demolished in 1841. The wall of the entrance, where several Visigothic reliefs are embedded, was partially preserved, as were the remains of the sacristy. The lot, including the vaults beneath, was put up for sale and was parceled out among several neighbors.

 

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Details

Founded: 0-100 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Spain

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

3.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Karyn Edison (10 months ago)
Not much to see, but for free admission, a 10 min look about might intrigue you.
Alex Gerber (10 months ago)
free entry and a cool stop if you’re walking around Toledo! features circulating art displays on the first floor, along with the cave and historical facts about the archeology below.
Inese Vilande (13 months ago)
Worth a quick 10 min visit, it's free, just be aware of opening times
Brett (2 years ago)
A little hard to find but worth it. Different from the of rest of the city. Roman in nature and dating back to closer to the founding of the city. Important for water among other things in the history. Small but worth the side trip to see..make sure to go down stairs. Hercules would want you to do so.
Dunai Gábor (2 years ago)
A lifetime experience. Those Romans sure had some brilliant ideas :)
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