La cathedral Primada of Toledo is the Town´s major monument and one of Spain’s cathedrals best examples of pure Gothic style. It contains an outstanding art museum with paintings from El Bosco or El Greco, to name but a few.
Any visit to the city of Toledo should include time at the Cathedral. The visitor center is opposite the entrance and tickets can be bought there or get them included in one of the daily tours that depart from Madrid.
Gropu guided tour
Private tour of Toledo with cathedral tickets
History of the Cathedral of Toledo
Legend has it that there has been some sort of time in the same place that the current cathedral is for hundreds of years.
The first consecrated temple was but in 587, after having undergone some alterations. With the Muslim invasion, the Christian imprint wasn’t immediately eliminated and the Christian temple was moved and established in where the church of Santa María de Alfizén now stands.
It is believed that the original building belonging to the previous Visigoth bishop was transformed to become the largest mosque in the city of Toledo. the mosque was later repurposed and built upon, becoming the current cathedral of Toledo.
How old is the Cathedral of Toledo?
The foundation stone was laid under Ferdinand III, the Holy, and Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, in 1226.
Who Designed the Cathedral of Toledo?
The first architect was Master Martín who was succeeded by Petrus Petri. Although the cathedral took two centuries to build and was not completed until 1493. It is pure Gothic.
Main features of the Cathedral of Toledo
The main façade has three Gothic entry ways. The first is known as the Puerta del Perdón, or door of forgiveness; the second is named the Puerta del Infierno, or the door of hell (situated to the left); and lastly the Puerta del Juicio, or door of judgment (located to the right). All three are opulently and uniquely decorated.
The main entrances tympanum (archway) we can see the Virgin Mary giving Saint Ildefonso a chasuble (robe), amongst a scene of the Last Supper.
The tower cathedral tower stands 300 ft. tall and was built in a purely Gothic style between 1380- 1440 by Rodrigo Alfonso and Alvar Gómez. at the top, hang the church bells, the famous Campana Gorda. This large bell weighs about 17 tons and was constructed in 1753.
The upper part is octagonal and ends in a spire with three crowns. The South façade has two portals, the Puerta Llana, or the plain door built in a classical style in the 18C, and the Puerta de Los Leones, or the door of lions, built by Joaquín Egas with a row of columns at the entrance, adorned with lions.
On the north side you will find the Puerta del Reloj, also called de la Chapinería. This entrance is lavishly adorned with Gothic pointed arches and ornaments from the early 14C, including figures of angels and scenes from the New Testament.
Leading to the cloister is the Puerta de Santa Catalina, which is Gothic with Mudéjar influence and the Puerta de la Presentación, which opens from inside the church. The cathedral has a large nave, four aisles (c.340 ft. long, 200 ft. wide, nave height c. 100 ft.) and 15 chapels. The aisles join up behind the altar. 88 massive pilasters support the vault. Many rosettes and lovely stained-glass windows from the 15&16C decorates the interior.
Cathedral of Toledo Paintings
The collection of works that you will find once inside the cathedral is truly excellent. You will find works such as the Expolio and the Apostolate by El Greco, paintings by Caravaggio, Tiziano, Van Dyck, Goya, Morales, Rubens, Bassano, and many others.
It is worth mentioning the works of Juan de Borgoña and Lucas Giordano separately, since their most outstanding paintings are the frescoes that line the walls of the Chapter House, in the case of the first, and the ceiling of the Sacristy, of the second.
Stained Glass Windows and Other Treasures
The Catedral Primada de Toledo actually houses the largest number of preserved medieval stained glass windows in the world.
The so-called Transparent is the main attraction created by sculptor Narciso Tomé, completed in 1732, and made in Genoese marbles, jasper and bronzes. Conceived as an altarpiece, and illuminated by the skylights, it presents numerous figures and compositions representing passages from the Bible.
Also worth mentioning is the exquisite goldsmithing. These treasures are kept in multiple display cases: reliquaries, staffs, clothes, and liturgical objects, among which some of great historical value stand out.
But without a doubt, the most spectacular is the amazing “Custody of Enrique de Arfe”. This unique piece is composed of countless pieces of gothic filigree gold-plated silver filigree lace. it is made of pure gold, made with the first gold that Christopher Columbus brought from America and belonging to the Catholic Monarchs. Once a year, the Custody of Arfe takes to the streets of the city for the exaltation of the faith during the centuries-old Corpus Christi procession.