5 Must See Toledo Sights in Spain
Toledo is Spain’s former capital city. It presents a rich mix of Jewish, Moorish and Christian heritages. The best part is the old charm is maintained and no new high rise building is permitted. The terrain is a bit uneven throughout the old town of Toledo, better to wear good walking shoes. Toledo was included in UNESCO World heritage list in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage. There are plenty of free sights to see which will take up most part of the day. You can study and choose the paid sights that you wish to see and spend the remaining time walking around. I have chosen here just 5 of the many must see Toledo sights.
Cathedral of Toledo
This one is so huge, so grand, so spectacular and worth a visit in spite of its high ticket prices. (In Spain almost all cathedral had entry tickets unlike in Portugal and Greece.) Even 2 hours wouldn’t suffice to take a complete satisfactory tour of the place; it is a forest of lofty pillars inside. The ticket counter is across the road of its south entrance, Calle Cardenal Cisneros. They do give audio guides, you need to leave your ID doc with them. Maps are provided and the combination of map and audio guide makes an excellent self guided tour possible.
If figures impress you, the cathedral is 120m in length, 59m in width and 45m in height! It took a couple of centuries to build it. High Altar with its celebration of Mary’s Assumption is bound to daze you! Other noteworthy sights are: Choir, Chapter House, Chapel of New Kings, Cloister. There is more! Definitely one of the must see Toledo sights!
Tickets to Cathedral of Toledo
8euros, 11euros for trip up the bell tower. Open: Mon to Sat 10.00AM to 18.30. Sunday – 14.00 to 18.30. And yes, photography without flash is allowed.
San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, Toledo
This is a grand Franciscan Monastery which is a church too. It was built in 15th century by Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel. The exteriors are stunning as much as the interiors. Notice the chains in the façade. The story behind those is that Moors used these to chain Christians in Granada till 1492. After freedom from Moors they brought these chains to church making them a symbol of faith! The interiors kind of reflect what a superpower Spain was in the 15th centuries. The cloister with its small garden is grand. Innumerable sculpted figures with animal and plant motifs, the inner arches that straddle the upper cloister adorned with 2 lions on each, the walk around is worth it.
Mosque of Christ of the Light, Toledo
This is a unique combination of Roman, Arab and Christian history. A church now, was a mosque of the Moors who ruled, built on the remains of a church of Roman era! Any history lover’s must visit site in Toledo. The highlight of this monument is that it is pretty much in the same state when it was built. The approach is difficult and is through several lanes going up and down. But then this is last of the mosque of the Moors who ruled here. The geometry, the patterns, the designs on domes all faded, yet definitely worth a capture before they fade away further.
Tickets cost 2.50 euros per person, Open: 10.00 to 14.00 and 15.30 to 18.40 – Monday to Friday. 10.00 to 17.45 on Saturday and Sunday.
Santa Cruz Museum Toledo
If you have time to visit just one museum in Toledo, Santa Cruz Museum would be an ideal choice. This is ranked among the best museums of Spain. This museum displays around 15 works of the most reputed painter El Greco of Toledo. The building has a unique history of being an orphanage and hospital. It was made in 16th century and the façade is exquisitely sculpted. The exteriors also bear the bullet scars of Spanish civil wars. The cloisters, archway and staircase all are worth observing. The precious and valuable exhibits are on the upper floor, some good mosaics too. The ground floor has temporary exhibits.
Tickets cost 6 euros. Open: Monday to Saturday – 10.00 to 19.00 hrs. Sunday: 10 to 14.30hrs.
Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal, Toledo
Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal is a church where prayers are offered even today. This church has retained the characteristics of a mosque. The site where it stands now earlier had a mosque and a church. This church was built in 1245-48 and is named after Saint James (Santiago) of the outskirts (Arrabal). It is the exteriors of this church that is more interesting compared to its interiors. Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal seemed to be made of just bricks and has unusual cylindrical shape. It is located in the outer periphery of town of Toledo near the town walls.