Toledo Cathedral. Church in Toledo, Spain

Toledo Cathedral

Church in Toledo, Spain

Toledo Cathedral 8 Photo © Son of Groucho

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Toledo Cathedral

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Crucifix 1 - Toledo Cathedral
Crucifix 1 - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Son of Groucho
La Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo (Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo), also known as ‘Dives Toletana’ (the Rich Toledan), is considered to be the most spectacular piece of Spanish-Gothic architecture, and one of the most important examples of High Gothic structures in Spain. It is located in the heart of the city of Toledo, which as of 1986 is considered by the UNESCO a World Heritage Site. Apart from its architectonic value, it contains several works of art by Baroque painter, El Greco, and a notable Baroque high altarpiece. Many other fine artworks can be visited at the cathedral.

The cathedral is a place of unique historic relevance, and nearly every detail within it (treasures, artwork, sculptures, woodwork, and so forth) is exquisitely built. A simple tour around the main points of interest within the cathedral can take several hours.

The Structure

The cathedral is unanimously considered the magnum opus (Wikipedia Article) of High Gothic style in Spain. Construction began in 1226 and went on for more than 250 years, it was built over the remains of a Visigothic church which was later used as a mosque. The Gothic style was tastefully combined with Mudéjar elements (an Arab style developed by Muslims who stayed in Spain after the Spanish Reconquista (Wikipedia Article)). This trait makes the cathedral a one-of-a-kind building.

The Gothic features of the cathedral have a clear French influence. It consists of five naves, held by 88 columns. The construction was begun by Maestro Martin and ended in 1493 when the last vault was finally concluded. The altarpiece, upper choir, and fencing were constructed in the 16th century.

	Cathedral 9 - Toledo Cathedral
Toledo Cathedral 9. Photo by Son of Groucho

Exterior and Façades of the Cathedral

The Main Façade of the Cathedral

Another Favourite
	Organ - Toledo Cathedral
Another Favourite Organ - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Son of Groucho
The main façade sits in front of the Town Hall of Toledo, the Plaza and the Arzobispado. It consists of three portals: the Portal of Forgiveness, the Portal of the Last Judgment, and the Portal of Hell. They are heavily decorated with typical Gothic iconography and naturalistic decorations.


The tower features both a Gothic and a Mudéjar style, as the rest of the church. It sits in the Northwest corner of the church. It is made up of five levels. The second level used to serve as a residence for the Ringer and the third level was used as a prison. The tower can be visited and climbed during the church’s visiting hours.

Main Chapel

The main chapel contains a great amount of artwork and its architecture is unique as well. Some elements worth mentioning are the stone gates that used to close the old chapel and the pillars that stand in the entrance to the chapel, among others. La Capilla del Sepulcro is located inside the main chapel as well, and it’s the place where many ancient Spanish kings and noblemen are buried. It also contains sculptures by Copin, and paintings by Luis Medina, and Francisco Ricci.

Altarpiece of the Main Chapel

The alterpiece was built in a florid Gothic style, and it’s one of its last examples, during the transition to the Renaissance. It was finished in 1504. A great number of painters and sculptors participated in the making of its many paintings and sculptures. It also includes a very delicate filigree by Petit Juan.

Apse of the Cathedral of Toledo - Toledo Cathedral
Apse of the Cathedral of Toledo - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Scott Sherrill-Mix

Sacristy - Toledo
Sacristy - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Angie Six

Museums of the Cathedral


The Sacristy (Wikipedia Article) dates back to the 16th century, and a fresco depicting the Virgin Mary by Lucas Jordan can be found in it. This room alone includes a complete collection of paintings from authors such as El Greco, Caravaggio; Titian, Van Dick; Orrente, Tristán, Goya; Morales, José Ramos, Rivera; Bassano, and Bellini, among many others. In the rooms beside the sacristy, a collection of liturgical garments is found as well.


A treasure located underneath the tower and contains the main works of goldsmiths. It also contains ancient rugs and a very ancient French Bible which dates back to 1258 and was given as a gift to Alfonso X the Wise.

La Custodia de Enrique de Arfe

La Custodia de Enrique de Arfe is the most prominent object kept in the Tesoro. It is also called ‘La Gran Ostensoria de Toledo’. It was built around 1522 to keep the monstrance, which belonged to Queen Isabella the Catholic, and was bought by Toledo in 1505. Legend says it was built using the gold that first arrived from America.

El Transparente - Toledo
El Transparente - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Jocelyn Kinghorn
It is 309.5 cm tall, and it was made out of golden silver. It has an hexagonal shape. Carved in the golden silver; Jesus, St. Peter cutting off the soldier’s ear, Christ being whipped, and the Resurrection can be seen. It also depicts the prophets Amos, Hosea; Micah, Zephaniah; Nahum, Habakkuk; Haggai, Zechariah; Malachi, Obadiah; Joel, and Jonah. Many angels and disciples are also carved the golden silver.

Inside La Custodia lies the original monstrance which once belonged to Isabella the Catholic, which lies on a pedestal. This monstrance is made of pure gold with gemstones and pearls embedded in it, and depicts Jesus, many saints, ancient kings, angels, and prophets as well.

The Chapterhouse

Also known as Sala Capitular, the Chapter house (Wikipedia Article) contains many works of art, including woodwork and many paintings that were created directly on the walls by Juan de Borgoña and others.

El Transparente

El Transparente is an altarpiece (Wikipedia Article) considered by many to be the most prominent work of Spanish Baroque art. It was made out of Genoese and Spanish marble. Within the altarpiece, there is a window surrounded by angels that allows light to shine through, giving El Transparente (Wikipedia
	Article) its name. This work was commissioned by Diego de Astorga to Narciso Tomé. El Transparente is believed to be the most impressive feature of the cathedral.

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Author: eymili. Last updated: Mar 02, 2015

Pictures of Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral
Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Daderot

Toledo Cathedral 10 - Toledo Cathedral
Toledo Cathedral 10 - Photo by Son of Groucho

Ceiling - Toledo Cathedral
Ceiling - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Son of Groucho

Altar - Toledo Cathedral
Altar - Toledo Cathedral. Photo by Son of Groucho


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