Toledo Tourist Information

Published on 20/10/2008 in Places of Interest

Toledo cathedralToledo is situated around 40 miles (64km) southeast of Madrid, and is capital of the Castilla y La Mancha region. This unmissable old city, surrounded on three sides by a tight bend in the River Tagus, boasts a wealth of historic attractions and artistic treasures. It is also famous for being the home of renaissance painter, El Greco, who came to the city from Crete in the 16th century.

Due to Toledo's strategic location, the Visigoths made it their capital in the 5th century AD. The Moors took control in 712AD, before the Christian king, Alfonso VI, captured the city in 1085. Toledo then enjoyed its golden age, until Philip I moved the royal court to Madrid for political reasons in 1561. Afterwards the city went into economic decline, although this has meant that many of Toledo's historic buildings have been preserved. Toledo remains the chief city of the Spanish church and seat of the Primate of Spain.

Begun in 1227 and completed in 1493, Toledo's magnificent cathedral is regarded as one of the finest in Spain. The cathedral houses a variety of artistic masterpieces, including paintings by Velazquez, Goya and El Greco. Pride of place goes to the huge golden monstrance, which is carried through the streets of Toledo during Corpus Christi.

A short distance from the cathedral is the tiny church 14th century church of Santo Tome. Tourists flock here to admire El Greco's enormous masterpiece, El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz (The burial of the Count of Orgaz). The painting depicts Saints Augustine and Stephen lowering the count into his grave. To discover more about its artist, head to the Casa y Museo del Greco in the old Jewish quarter. Although El Greco didn't actually live here, the museum contains several of his paintings. There are more examples of El Greco's work in the Museo de Santa Cruz. This former 16th century hospice, which also contains paintings by Ribero and Goya, is especially notable for its spectacular facade.

The huge Alcazar fortress, which dominates the skyline of Toledo, is famous for the Spanish Civil War. Nationalist forces, under the command of Colonel Jose Moscardo, managed to hold out against the Republicans for 68 days, although the Alcazar was almost completely destroyed in the process. Today the rebuilt fortress houses a military museum, which traces the story of the siege. There are also some magnificent views across the river valley from the Alcazar's terrace.

Toledo had a large and important Jewish community during the Middle Ages, and there are two surviving synagogues in the old Jewish quarter, El Transito and Santa Maria la Blanca. El Transito, built by Samuel Levi in the 14th century, now contains a small museum, while Santa Maria, which dates back to the 12th century, was converted into a church after the Jews were expelled from Toledo in 1492.

The nearest airport to Toledo is Madrid (Barajas). There are regular trains from Madrid's Atocha station to Toledo, although buses are usually quicker and more convenient. The city's tourist information office is situated at Puerta de Bisagra and is open daily.


Written by: Gary Marshall

About the author:For more advice and tourist information about Almunecar please see Almunecar




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