Toledo has a history of more than 2000 years. It was once the city under the Roman Empire, the capital of the Visigoth Kingdom, the fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba and the temporary location of supreme power during the reign of Charles. The uniqueness of Toledo is that different civilizations have been nurtured in the same environment. The main reasons for the emergence of multiple civilizations are the coexistence of three main religions – Judaism, Christian and Islam on this land. That’s why Toledo is known as the “city of three major cultures.” Cervantes once called it “the glory of Spain and the light of the Spanish city.” Please follow me and explore the great city slowly and quietly.
1. Toledo Cathedral
The Cathedral of Toledo, one of the largest Catholic churches in the world, is the culmination of Gothic art and the best historical testimony. The Cathedral of Toledo was the first cathedral of the Spanish parish church and the second largest cathedral in Spain. It mimics the Cathedral of Bourges in France and combines with the characteristics of the Mudhar style. The wonderful combination of light and vaults is a more striking. There are three doors on the front of the church with typical Gothic arches. In the middle is the door of forgiveness, the one on the right is called the door of judgment and the one on the left is called the gate of hell. The two pointed arches above the gate together with the rose window inside look like two big eyes that observe the world and think about their future.
2. Toledo Sun Gate
The Toledo Sun Gate is a must-see for tourists. It was built in the 13th century and has a typical Arabian style – tall, grand and upright. There are two kinds of sayings for that it is called the Sun Gate. One is that there are pattern of the sun and the moon on the gate; the other is that the sun covers always the door from sunrise to sunset because the door is at zero on the meridian. There are different style characteristics of different periods because the door has been constructed and decorated in various historical periods.
3. San Martin Bridge
Built in the 13th century, the San Martin Bridge is a medieval bridge on the Tagus River that is named after the bishop of the local parish St. Martin. The bridge has a Mudhar architectural style. Two defense towers which are Gothic style stand at the head of the bridge.
4. Royal Monastery of San Juan
The monastery is an outstanding work of Juan Guas. The highlight of the monastery in the heart of the Jewish Quarter is the fascinating double-layer porch with a post-Gothic style on the first floor and a Mudhar-style decoration on the second floor, making it the most appreciated building in the city. The church in the monastery is very beautifully decorated and the Islamic carvings in the cloister are exquisite, both of which are worthy of special attention. The courtyard is full of light with a lot of plants such as orange trees. Climb the stairs to the second floor where you can admire the typical Islamic-style geometry and vegetation patterns.
5. Toledo Castle
The stone castle built by the Romans in the 3rd century was built at the highest point of the city of Torres, which was recovered by Alfonso VI. At present, the castle houses the Castilla La Mancha Regional Library and the Spanish Military Museum. The castle was built in the Roman period and was destroyed in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. What we are seeing now is restored from 1940 to 1961.
6. Bisagra Gate
Bisagra Gate is the main entrance to the city of Toledo and was built in the mid-16th century. This is the only gate that people can enter to the ancient city because the Tagus River cut off in the northeast and south. The door is engraved with the emblem of the Carlos I King of Spain – the Imperial Emperor. On the wall is the inscription of the Spanish literary master Cervantes to Toledo: “The glory of Spain, the light of the Spanish city.”
7. Toledo City Hall
The Toledo City Hall is also of the Renaissance style. The pre-project was completed by Herrera and later finished by the painter Gregory’s son Jorge Manuel Theotocopuli. The two towers of the City Hall have the Baroque spire. There are four flags representing the European Union, Spain, Castilla-La Mancha and Toledo at the balcony on the third floor.
8. Alcantara Bridge
The Alcantara is located at the foot of the Alcazar Castle and it was built in the Roman era. Then it was later remodeled by Arabs and Christians. The bridge has a very beautiful Mudejar-style tower.
10. Santa Cruz Museum
This 16th-century building was originally a hospital that was created in accordance with the wishes of Cardinal Mendoza with its entire heritage. It was mainly for the adoption of abandoned babies and orphans. The ingenious facade, three main entrances, the inner corridor for the nobles and the staircase connecting the two-story building are the most outstanding parts. The museum is divided into three parts: the first part is used to show the works of artists such as Greco, the second part shows the mosaic tiles and other archaeological artifacts of the Roman era, and the third part displays the decorative art.
9. Assumption Synagogue
The Assumption of the Synagogue is one of the last two existing churches among Toledo’s original ten synagogues and of the Mudhar style. Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of the church. Enter into the church, the upper part of the wall and the Mudhar-style decoration around the altar will surprise you. The ceiling of the cedar wood is also exquisite. There are 54 precious small arch windows in the hall, which is a new experience for you if you are used to seeing Catholic and Islamic culture. There is also a fine Jewish museum in the side of the church, which displays a lot of Spanish Jewish cultural heritage and artifacts.