Cathedral of Toledo

Cathedral of Toledo

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, also called Primate Cathedral of Toledo, is a church in Spain. The seat of the Archdiocese of Toledo, it is one of the three 13th century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered to be the "magnum opus" [That is the way various authors consider it, among them Diez del Corral in his work "Architecture and Patronage. The image of Toledo in the Renaissance", Madrid, 1987.] of the Gothic style in Spain. It was begun in 1226 during the reign of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in the 15th century when, in 1493, the vaults of the central nave were finished, during the times of the Catholic Monarchs. It was modeled after Bourges Cathedral, although its five naves plan is the consequence of the constructors' intention to cover all of the sacred space of the former city mosque with the cathedral, and of the former "sahn" with the cloister. It also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style, mainly in the cloister, and with the presence of multifoiled arches in the triforium. The spectacular incorporation of light and the structural achievements of the ambulatory vaults are some of its more remarkable aspects. It is built with white stone from Olihuelas, close to Toledo.

It is popularly known as "Dives Toletana" (in the sense of "the rich Toledan"). [In the 15th century, it spread to a proverb exhalting the four Spanish catedrals that were considered with the most grandeur, which says: "Sancta Ovetensis, pulchra Leonina, dives Toledana, fortis Salmantina".]



For years, the unwritten popular tradition has come down telling that there was in the same place as the current cathedral at first a temple from the era of the first Archbishop Eugene (Saint Eugene of Toledo). This temple was consecrated for a second time in the year 587, after having undergone some alterations, as testified by the inscription appearing in the 16th century that is preserved in the cloister and states:

In the name of the Lord the Church of Saint Mary was consecrated as Catholic, the first day of the ides of April, in the joyful first year of the reign of our most glorious king Flavius Reccared, Era 625 [13 of April of 587]

The city had been the episcopal seat of Visigothic Spain. The numerous Councils of Toledo attest to its important ecclesiastical past. Also, the abjuration of Arianism on the part of Reccared had its time and place there. The Muslim invasion did not immediately eliminate the Christian mark and the bishop remained established in the church of Saint Mary of Alfizén.

It is believed that the Visigothic bishopric building was transformed anew to be converted into in the main mosque of the city of Toledo. Some investigators point out that the prayer hall of the mosque corresponds with the layout of the five naves of the current cathedral, the "shan" would coincide with part of the current cloister and the chapel of Saint Peter and the minaret with the belltower. With certain archeological data it is possible to observe an Islamic column mounted inside of the chapel of Saint Lucy, the marble shafts that decorate the exterior of the choir are an improvement of an old Muslim construction, the intertwined arches of caliphate style in the triforium of the main chapel and of the ambulatory, coincide with the Muslim construction tradition of Cordova.

The cathedral of Alfonso VI

The city of Toledo was conquered by Alfonso VI, the king of Leon and Castile in 1085. One of the points of the capitulations that made possible the transfer of the city without bloodshed was the promise of this king to conserve and respect the buildings of learning, the customs and religion as much Muslim as the larger Mozarabic population. Naturally, the main mosque found itself within this compromise. Shortly thereafter, the king had to depart on matters of the state, staying in charge of the city his wife Constance and the abbot of the monastery of Sahagún Bernard of Sedirac (or Bernard of Cluny), who had been elevated to the rank of archbishop of Toledo. These two, in mutual accord and taking advantage of the absence of the king, undertook an unfortunate act which, as told by the priest Mariana in his "General History of Spain", was almost at the point of provoking a rebellion and an undesirable uprising and the ruin of the recently-conquered city.

The issue was that on the day of 25 October of 1087, the archbishop (in accordance with the queen Constance) sent armed people so that they would take control by force of the precinct of the mosque. After this incident, they installed a provisional altar and hung a bell in the minaret, following the Christian custom to "cast out the filthiness of the law of Mohammed". [That is how it is related in the "First General Chronicle".] The priest Mariana writes that king Alfonso VI was so irritated when he heard of the events that neither the archbishop nor the queen were able to were able to placate him, and the king sentenced death to almost every one implicated. Legend tells that it was the Muslims who were the true intermediaries to restore peace, with the negotiator and faqih Abu Walid being the one who took to the king a message of tolerance in which was stated that they accepted as legitimate the usurpation. In memory and gratitude of this gesture, the Chapter dedicated a homage to Walid and ordered for an effigy to be placed on one of the pillars in the main chapel, this way perpetuating his memory. This event is not documented and many art historians envision in the effigy a priest of a Muslim nature. As a consequence of that incident, the Toledan mosque remained consecrated and converted into a Christian cathedral, without hardly making changes to the structure.

Plans of what was once the mosque have not been preserved nor is it known how this building appeared, but taking into account the preserved vestiges in other cities (Seville, Jaén, Granada, Málaga including the Mosque of Cordova) it can be supposed that it was a columnary building, with horseshoe arcades on top of columns perhaps improved up other Roman and Visigothic construction. It is possible that it appeared very much like the church of the Savoir of Toledo, previously a mosque.

King Alfonso VI made important donations to the new temple. On 18 December of 1086, the cathedral was placed under the advocation of María and it was granted villas, hamlets, mills and one third of the revenues of all the rest of the church of the city. The first royal privilege that is preserved is a prayer in Latin, beginning:

"Ego Disponente Deo Adefonsus, Esperie imperator, condeco sedi metropolitane, scilicet, Sancte Marie urbis Toletane honorem integrum ut decent abere pontificalem sedem secundum quod preteritis fuit constitutum a sanctis patribus..."

Necessary works were done to establish Christian Roman worship, among others were the change of orientation of the presbyterium and main chapel. Urban II recognized in 1088 its condition of primate cathedral over the rest of the kingdom. The mosque-cathedral remained intact until the 13th century, the year of 1222, until a bull from the Pope authorized to start off the works of the new cathedral which were initiated in 1224 (or 1225) and whose official ceremony of the placement of the first stone took place in 1226 (other sources say 1227), with the presence of King Ferdinand the Saint. Throughout the 13th century, the cathedral's income tax was raised upon integrating into its patrimony Alcalá de Henares.

The cathedral of the archbishop Ximénez de Rada

The building of the cathedral as it is now seen is work of the 13th century, period of the archbishop of Toledo Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada and of King Ferdinand the Saint, who at that time was very young. The official ceremony of the placing of the first stone was delayed with respect to the commencement of the works, in hope that the king could be present (1227). Ximénez de Rada was elected bishop of Toledo in 1209 and from the beginning of his mandate defended before the Pope the of the Toledan see. In his mind was the construction of a grand cathedral worthy of this city which he governed. For the time being, the mosque-cathedral presented itself as very old and noisy. Some sections were demolished by his predecessor. The mosque-cathedral provided ample space, but was of little height and it lacked the slenderness of other temples of similar importance. Ximénez de Rada was the enthusiastic promoter of the new cathedral which was to be built at the taste of the time, in Gothic style. He was so enthusiastic with the project and he involved himself so much in it that it came to be told that he was the author-architect of the appearance of the new cathedral. This is an affirmation completely out of place according to historians and architects. The archbishop spent a few years maintaining and reinforcing the old temple in hopes that his dream would be realized.

The building

The structure of the building is greatly influenced by the best of French Gothic of the 13th century, but adapted to Spanish taste. It measures 120 metres in length by 59 metres in width. It consists of five naves with transept and double ambulatory, transepts and a double ambulatory. The outer naves present an odd anomaly in being a little wider than the other two. The oldest part of the temple is the sanctuary, which maintains in its architecture the original triforia that extended along the length of the naves and were removed in one of the many reforms and evolutions that the cathedral underwent. Still in the Gothic period, these triforia were replaced with large stained-glass windows. Those triforia that survive of the sanctuary are of mudéjar influence. The lowest section is made of cusped arches that rest on paired columns and the upper section presents interlaced arches typical of mudéjar. It is not known if these mudéjar themes existed in the previous mosque and were copied as a reminder or if they were added in one of the improvements and enrichments of the stonework, as something original and tasteful.

In the sanctuary, one encounters the double ambulatory, which is double as would correspond to a ground plan of 5 naves. This double ambulatory is of grand proportions and is enriched with architectural elements and an original vaulting. The sections of the chapel were solved with alternate plans of rectangles and triangles, which made for each chapels to be of a different size, rectangular planes being larger and triangular plans smaller. This method of distributing the sanctuary can be seen in the French cathedrals of Notre Dame in Paris, Bourges and Le Mans, the last cathedral being the most similar in appearance although the three are slender, as a whole, than the Spanish cathedral. The various reforms that were made over time altered the arrangement of some of the chapels, for example, in one case only one chapel was reconstructed in the space of three.

The vaults of the naves are quadripartite except for those of the transept and the chancel which are reinforced with tiercerons.

The master builders and their patrons

For centuries it was held with complete certainty that the first master architect of the cathedral of Toledo was Petrus Petri (Spanish "Pedro Pérez"). Such certainty was based on the only existing testimony regarding the authorship, testimony recorded on a tombstone within sight, where it is possible to see the legend written in a poor Latin:

Petrus Petri, deceased in 1291, master of the church of Saint Mary of Toledo, whose fame was propagated by his good examples and customs, who constructed this temple and rests here, for what an admirable building he made, he will not feel the wrath of God.

Towards the middle of the 20th century, the bishop of Ciudad Real investigated to the bottom of this theme and brought to light a series of documents which came to demonstrate existence of a first master prior to Petrus Petri called master Martín, married with María Gómez, certainly of French origin, called for by Ximénez de Rada. One of the documents is dated to 1227 and names "a master Martín of the work of Saint Mary of Toledo". Another document where a list of income collected by the cathedral is listed in 1234 gives anew the name of "Master Martín of the work", of whom it is also written to be tenant of a house pertaining to the cathedral. In writings of later years appear the names of Martín (bricklayer) and Juan Martín (master of bricklayers), who are believed to be relatives of each other. No new documents have appeared, so at the present time this master Martín is held as first architect. To this argument it must be added that the date of beginning of the construction figures incorrectly with the age of Petrus Petri who during those years must have been too young to be architect. [Regarding the question of the age of Petrus Petri at the beginning of the construction of the cathedral, "The Cathedral of Toledo" can be consulted. The Modern Spain, 1903, from José Amador de los Ríos.]

The studies released after this discovery indicates that the master Martín would be the author of the chapels of the ambulatory and upon his departure by death or by absence the weight of the direction of the works was taken up by master Petrus who finished the ambulatories and constructed the triforia in Toledan style. Towards the end of the 13th century, the sanctuary and two sections of the naves of the south side were concluded.

Towards the end of the 14th century the person of a master Rodrigo Alfonso appears to be documented, who put the first stone of the cloister in 1389, under the patronage of the bishop Pedro Tenorio who died 10 years later. This archbishop occupied himself with many works of the cathedral, such as the chapel of Saint Blaise in the cloister which is famous for artistic richness of its frescos from the school of Siena.

The next master of whom there is information was Alvar Martínez (in other cases González), who was quantity surveyor of the quarries Olihuelas at the boundary of Olías del Rey. He is the author of the west façade whose construction was begun in 1418. The changes made in 1787 make it so that one cannot envision how this façade really was in its origin. He was also the author of the only tower of the cathedral, in times of archbishop Juan Martínez de Contreras, whose coat of arms appears in the frieze that crowns the first section. The crowning of the tower was done by another great master: Hanequin de Bruselas, who moulded the coat of arms of the next archbishop Juan de Cerezuela. With Hanequin came a group of illustrious masters: Egas Cueman, Enrique Egas, Juan Guas, who worked on fronts, chapels, and sumptuary works putting an end to the Gothic work with their labor. The vaults of the at the footing of the central nave were closed in 1493, under the direction of Juan Guas and Enrique Egas, with the patronage and supervision of Cardinal Mendoza.

Great patrons of the 16th century. Works and artists

During the 16th, 17 and 18th centuries, there occurred various works in the cathedral, according to the new styles, architectural works (doors, chapels, chapels) and sumptuous works of sculpture and painting. The 16th century is the golden age for Toledo which is called "Imperial City". The best and most active patrons lived during this century. It is the archbishop-governors who, in the absence of the kings, care for the city and its magnificence. In 1493, at the end of the 15th century, Cardinal Mendoza supervised the closing of the last vaults of the cathedral and expressed in his will his desire to be buried in the presbyterium. In the first decade of the 16th century, the cenotaph was built in Renaissance style. This excellent work is attributed to Domenico Fancelli.

Later Cardinal Cisneros occupied the post. Under his influence and sponsorship important works were made (perhaps the most important work was the Mozarabic chapel), realized by masters of the stature of Juan Francés (grill of the Mozarabic chapel), Enrique Egas, Juan de Borgoña (pictures of the Mozarabic chapel) and its main master Pedro de Gumiel. Cisneros also ordered the magnificent main retable to be built, work of Diego Copín de Holanda and the high cloister for the canonical community, plus the library. He was followed by Guillermo de Croy, Flemish, who never resided in Toledo. Alfonso de Fonseca y Acevedo (who had been archbishop of Santiago de Compostela) was the promoter of the New Kings chapel, work of the architect Alonso de Covarrubias with paintings from Mariano Salvador Maella (18th century).

With bishop Juan Tavera, Toledan Renaissance is found in its grand splendor. Under his governance, the magnificent chorus of Alonso Berruguete and Felipe Vigarny, the interior façades of the transept, the chapel of Saint John or of the Treasure and other façades and adornments were constructed. With Juan Martínez Siliceo, the cathedral was seen adorned with the splendid grill of the main chapel, work of Francisco de Villalpando.

Cardinal Gaspar de Quiroga was responsible for the architectural complex of the chapel of the Tabernacle, Reliquary and the courtyard and house of the treasurer. The appearances and plans were from the main master Nicolás de Vergara el Mozo. To construct this complex, the Hospital of the King was demolished which was again raised opposite of its former site and whose works were brought to completion with the great cardinal Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas and with the architect Nicolás de Vergara, now beginning the 17th century.


Main façade and the great doors

The main façade faces onto an irregular square containing the town hall and Archbishop's Palace. To the left is the bell tower and to the right the projecting Mozarabic chapel that occupies the place where the second tower was to be built.

To the left of the main façade rises the only tower of the cathedral. The dome that is seen to the right belongs to the Mozarabic chapel which was ordered to be constructed by cardinal Cisneros. The tower has two parts: the lower part, of square cross-section, was designed by Alvar Martínez; the upper, octagonal part corresponds to Hanequin de Buselas. It is topped by a spire.

The main façade has three doorways, known as, respectively, Puerta del Perdón (Door of Forgiveness, in the centre), Puerta del Juicio Final (Door of the Last Judgment, to the right) and Puerta del Infierno (the Door of Hell, to the left). The Door of Forgiveness is of the 15th century: it was begun, under the direction of Alvar Matinez in 1418. It is so called because there was a time indulgences were granted to penitents who entered through it. These days it is always closed and is only used on special occasions and when the new archbishop takes charge of the primate cathedral. It has one great arch with six Gothic archivolts. The decoration consists of typical Gothic iconography, with the figure of the Saviour in the mullion and an apostolates in the jambs. In the tympanum, the Virgin gives the chasuble to Saint Ildephonsus, a particularly special theme for the cathedral which is repeated in the interior in the chapels and paintings. The leaves of the door measure more than 5 meters in height and are covered by elaborately fashioned bronze plates, which are from the 14th century. The door of the Last Judgement is the oldest of the three, and represents, as its name suggests, the Last Judgment.

The door Hell, in contrast, does not contain figurative motives, only floral decoration. It is also known as the door of the Tower or of the Palms as it used to be reserved as an entrance for the procession of the palms on Palm Sunday.

The façade was modified in 1787 by the architect Eugene Durango under the orders of Cardinal Lorenzana. The sculptor was Mariano Salvatierra. The work was necessary because of the deterioration of the stone, which was not of good quality. It is possible that the doors were to be brought forward between buttresses instead of their current position, but it is not known for certain.

Door of the Clock

The Door of the Clock is the oldest, begun in the 14th century and is located in the façade of the north side. In addition, it is also known as:

* "Door of the Fair", because it opened to the street where the fair was celebrated.
* "Door of the Chapinería (shoe-maker shop)", because it fronts the street which bears that name, the place where clogs were made and sold.
* "Door of the Ollas", because in its decoration some can be seen.
* "Door of the Monarchs", alluding to the iconography of its sculpture.
* "Door of the Lost Boy", also because of the iconography.

The tympanum is divided into four horizontal panels, in which there are scenes from the life of Christ: the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Massacre of the Innocents, Flight into Egypt, the Circumcision of Jesus, the Finding in the Temple, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Baptism and the Marriage at Cana. In the upper part of the tympanum, the Death of the Virgin is depicted. The column-mullion is decorated with an image of the Virgin and Child. In the jambs are images of kings and saints, all of which are the work of the sculptor Juan Alemán who also worked on the door of the Lions.

Above this doorway is the later work of Gregorio López Durango, whose work is also seen on the main façade. It is consolidation work needed because of the bad state of the stone. The central intercolumniation above the door is occupied by the face of the clock that gives its name to the door. The door and its surroundings form a very appealing space with a small compass enclosed by a Gothic grill, the work of Juan Francés, with very simple crosspieces, a small, carved frieze with a separation in the center, and a simple and harmonious cresting.


Inside are diverse medallions; the best are those of the Virgin of the Annunciation of Nicolás de Vergara el Mozo and of the Archangel Saint Gabriel of Juan Bautista Vázquez. It is also adorned with paintings and coats of arms. Above is the rose window of the 13th century that contains the oldest stained glass of the cathedral.

Door of the Lions

The "Door of the Lions" is of the 15th and 16th century. Is the most modern of the great doors. It is so named because of the lions that crown the columns of the grill that encloses the small compass. In addition, it has two other names:

*New Door, for being the last that was built.
*Door of Joy, in allusion to the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin that is represented in the face of the back wall, over the archivolts.

It was constructed between the years 1460 and 1466, under the mandate of Archbishop Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña; with designs from Hanequin de Bruselas and Egas Cueman in collaboration with the Flemish sculptors Pedro and Juan Guas and Juan Alemán, author of the Apostolate. These artists were at the front of a great studio that included prestigious stonemasons and carvers.

The statuary of the door is one of the best Hispano-Flemish collections of the 15th century, above all the Virgin of the column-mullion and the statues of the jambs. The cherubim and musical angels that accompany the ascension of Mary to the sky are works of art executed with great delicacy. The façade was altered by Durango and Salvatierra, same as in the other doors, to fund the building. The bronze leaves of the doors are a masterpiece by Francisco de Villalpando, who made a great work on the 35 panels or plates. They are hidden from view, protected with wood panels. On top is the great rose window of polychromatic stained glass.

The interior of the door corresponds to the great front of the transept on its southern side on top of which rests the small balcony with balustrade that corresponds to the tribune where the organ of the Emperor is located. Higher up is the great rose window, surrounded by a frame with its pendentives decorated with rosaceae.

In the lower part of the great front is the door divided by a column-mullion. Above the door is the tympanum sculpted with themes of the genealogy of the Virgin whose authors were the same who worked on the exterior of this door. On top of the tympanum is the plateresque work in with a great medallion of the Coronation of the Virgin in the center, work of Gregorio Pardo (eldest son of Felipe Vigarny). On both sides are the statues of David and Solomon, attributed to Esteban Jamete.

To the right and left of this front are two sepulchres. The one on the right is empty (it is believed that it was prepared to receive the remains of Brother Bartolomé Carranza); that of the left holds the remains of Canon Alfonso de Rojas, represented in a praying statue.

The grill was made a century after the great grills of the main chapel and of the choir, in a style completely different than these, which gave way to solidity and utility more than to the taste for ornamentation as demonstrated in the earlier century. Its author was Juan Álvarez de Molina, native of Úbeda (Jaén), who made the grill in the city of Toledo in 1647. The documents preserved to this respect say that the grillworker received 8,504 reales and 12 maravedís, and the 27,000 that had been given to him earlier. The document gives account of the cost of the iron employed by the grillworker which totaled to practically the quantity received for the work.

Other doors and façades of the cathedral

Level Door

The "Level Door" is of Neo-Classical style, of the year 1800. It is the only entrance door to the cathedral that is level with the ground, without steps, so giving it its name. Through this door it was customary for processions to exit.

Façade of Saint Katherine

The "Façade of Saint Katherine" is of late Gothic style. Its archivolts are carved with vegetable motifs of leaves and foliage. The pillar that makes the mullion is greatly carved on its side faces, with castles and lions. In its interior, it has two sections. The higher section is ornamented with a series of statues with small dossals.

Door of the Presentation

The "Door of the Presentation" is from the time of Cardinal Tavera; of rich carving and miniatures of imagery made in good, very white stone.


In origins, the project was to raise two towers, one on each side of the western façade, but only one was raised, the one of the northeast corner, while on the opposite side only the foundations were raised, this place being where later the Mozarabic chapel was constructed.

The tower was designed and constructed by Alvar Martínez; it is Gothic, with some mudéjar influence. By an elevated base of squared plan are superimposed four bodies and the fifth being of a smaller height. Even this body is the work of the master Martínez. Between the first and the second body a frieze of black marble unfolds horizontally where in white marble are the coats of arms of Archbishop Juan Martínez de Contreras, whose mandate was from 1422 until 1438. On that date of 1422, the work of Martínez, who did not leave designs nor drawings to continue the coronation, was to be finished. The top of the tower with the octagonal body was work of the architect Hanequin de Bruselas who arrived to work on this cathedral together with a group of great figures: Egas Cueman, Enrique Egas and Juan Guas among others. The octagonal body is accompanied by pinnacles and buttress arches and is topped with a spire that supports three crowns imitating a papal tiara.


Main Chapel

The main chapel of the cathedral brings together a richness of art works, starting with the architecture of the grounds itself. In its original state, the grounds were separated in two parts with two independent vaults. The polygonal vault pertained to the chapel of the Old Monarchs which was somewhat separated. With this division, the presbyterium resulted in being somewhat narrow and not very proper for such a cathedral. Cardinal Cisneros made it clear for this part of the cathedral to be rebuilt and through some situations of confrontation with the Chapter, he received the consent to demolish this chapel of the Old Monarchs, make the presbyterium wider and give sufficient space for the great Gothic retable which he himself had commissioned.

Also in its original state, the chapel was closed laterally by two magnificent "grills" of stone, which were like enormous gates. The ambo corresponding to the Gospel was demolished to make the mausoleum of cardinal Mendoza. The ambo corresponding to the Epistle remains and by this it can be deduced that it was part of a great work. Some art critics [CHUECA GOITIA, Fernando and NAVASCUÉS, Pedro.] assure that this stone grill is the most beautiful part of the cathedral. It is possible that it was finished being built at the time of archbishop Pedro de Luna whose polychromatic shield and coat of arms of Castile and León are shown in this work. It is abundantly decorated by statuary and finished off by a choir of angels that appear to be flying. In harmony with this work of fretted stone, the two pillars that give passage to the interior of the chapel were built. On the left pillar the statue of the famous pastor who (according to the legend) provided information in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa; the other pillar is called "Faqih's Pillar" because of the statue of Abu Walid who brought king Alfonso VI a message of tolerance (see the this section).

All of the presbyterium is carved and chiselled with figures from all sizes and mythological figures. On the polygonal part on one side and the other are the sepulchres highly decorated and with recumbent statues of Alfonso VII and doña Berenguela, Sancho III of Castile the Desired and Sancho IV the Brave. The images of the monarchs are made in wood carved by Copín de Holanda and polychromed by Francisco de Amberes.

Chapel of the Sepulchre

Below the main altar is the chapel of the sepulchre in the form of a crypt. It is entered from outside of the presbyterium and through a fenced off door that leads to the staircase down. It is a vaulted chapel which contains three altars. The center altar is dedicated to the Holy Burial and has a sculptural group from Copín de Holanda. The altar on the right has important paintings from Luis Medina and Francisco Ricci. The altar on the left is dedicated to Saint Julian and presents a carving of the archbishop and two Italian tablets with the theme of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.


The retable of the Cathedral of Toledo is Gothic and flowered, and one of the last manifestations of this art which was disappearing to give way to the Renaissance. Commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros, the work was begun in 1497 and ended in 1504. Between the architects, painters and sculptors who intervened in this collective master work were: Enrique Egas and Pedro Gumiel (design), Francisco de Amberes and Juan de Borgoña (quilting and polychromy), Rodrigo Alemán, Felipe Vigarny, Diego Copín de Holanda y Sebastián de Almonacid (religious images), and Petit Juan or Peti Joan or Petit Jean (carving and filigree). [The retable in]

The retable includes an important statuary and a magnificent and delicate filigree of balusters, spires, small dossals, chambranles, all work by Petit Juan. It contains a continuous altar and predella, five bays, the center bay being the widest, and five stories with a line of separation not horizontal but stair-stepped. The themes of the central bay from bottom to top are: figure of a seated Virgin with Baby plated in silver (on the predella). Above this is the tabernacle, a Gothic monstrance carved in wood. Above is the theme of the Nativity and higher then Ascension. This culminates with a monumental Calvary. In the other bays are distributed the themes of the life and passion of Jesus.

epulchre of cardinal Mendoza

The sepulchre of cardinal Mendoza was located in the Cathedral as he himself had declared in 1493, the Chapter was very much opposed from the start to it being in the Presbyterium, this space being reserved as the privileged position of the monarchs. Nevertheless, in the end the structure of the choir had to be changed and royal tombs moved to accommodate the sepulchre according to the final opinion of the Chapter, reinforced by the personal intervention in favor of the Cardinal by the Catholic Monarchs and the inestimable act which Elizabeth the Catholic called the three beautiful sins of the cardinal (his children). His own death, in 11 January 1495 in Guadalajara, was surrounded by a halo of holiness to be sure those present had seen a sparkling white cross at the time of his death.

This was the first Castilian Renaissance sepulchre. The structure is an open, central arch and two smaller arches, carved on two fronts and through which the tomb can be seen from inside and outside, following a model of a Roman type triumphal arch which at that time shocked those who assisted in its construction, as much for its spectacular form as for abandoning the Gothic style which until that moment was considered adequate. The authorship of the work is not clear, though it is attributed to the Florentine Jacopo d'Antonio Sansovino who later worked in the Portuguese court with a similar style.

The impact on other later works was enormous: the sepulchres of Fadrique of Portugal, Pedro López de Ayala or Fernando de Arce [This sepulchre is in the cathedral of Sigüenza, in the chapel of Saint John and Saint Katherine.] , among others, were partial imitations of this new model.

The interior chapels. Generalities.

The main and minor chapels conceived in the project of Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada in its original state surrounded the sanctuary of the cathedral. From this, some were removed and others were widened or re-ordered. Of the minor chapels only the chapels of Saint Ann and Saint Giles remain. Of the main chapels those of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Leocadia remain with elements from the first epoch. The chapels of the Old Monarchs and of Saint Lucy remain with only alterations to their ornamentation.

The rest were modified or removed, even though in some the opening can be recognized: six small chapels of the ambulatory gave way in the 14th and 15th centuries to the funeral chapels of Saint Ildephonsus and Saint James; that of Christ of the Column (also called of Saint Bartholomew) was transformed at the beginning of the 17th century to give way to that of Christ of the Students (or Christ of the Covers); those of Saint Barbara, of Saint Nicholas, of Saint Elizabeth and of the Holy Trinity were integrated into other structures although some details permit their earlier existence to be recognized.

After the various actions, there can be found the aforementioned Chapels of the Old Monarchs, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Leocadia and Saint Lucy, including that of Saint Eugene, of Saint Blaise -incorporated into the cloister-, of Saint Peter and of the New Monarchs.

In the different remodelings and works, almost always the criterion of advancing from the sanctuary of the cathedral towards the wall, which explains the current layout, sometimes chaotic, with respect to the early designs. The first name of the chapel of the Old Monarchs is unknown. The current name has its origin in 1498 when Cardinal Cisneros wanted to transfer the royal tombs from the main chapel, which in the end was never done. In the 13th century, this served as funeral parlor to house the mortal remains of Archbishop González Díaz Palomeque. The chapel of Saint Lucy constitutes one of the few spaces where remains of the old mosque can be appreciated and, in concrete, a column and its capital.

The chapel of Saint Eugene (also called of Saint Peter the Old or of the Corpus Christi), is located on the south side, and retains all of the architectural style of the 13th century in difference to the rest of the cathedral. The chapel of Saint Peter is the largest and covers the functions of parochial chapel. The cathedral has a heptogonal sanctuary, with two rows with tierceron vaults, and its purpose, having been built at the beginning of the 15th century, was to serve as funeral chapel to Archbishop Sancho de Rojas.

Mozarabic chapel

The Mozarabic chapel is located at the southeast corner of the temple, from the start being accommodated in the interior for a tower which was never built. The original name of the chapel, given to it by Cardinal Cisneros, was Chapel of the Corpus Christi in the year 1500 and its purpose from the beginning was the preservation of the Hispano-Mozarabic rite. Numerous explanations have been given to the desire of Cisneros that a tradition already in decadence in those times be restored. The most plausible is the desire of the cardinal to conciliate in the cathedral different religious sentiments that were still maintained and for those that he felt a special regard. It has to be taken into account that, by 20 March 1101, Alfonso VI had given a privilege in the tributes to the Mozarabes of Toledo and in 1371, Henry II confirmed this. This explains the interest of Cisneros that the codexes, breviaries and misals, that they be restored inasmuch as it was possible and that they once again be published in new editions. The theory is reinforced by the great sum that had to be paid to the cathedral's Chapter to join the old Chapterhouse and another minor chapel and to build the work (3800 gold florins). In any event, the chapel celebrated mass under the restored rite from its beginning and the number and frequency of the assistants was very ample.

Upon its completion, the Mozarabic chapel ended up as a squared plan under an octagonal cupola, possibly with a coffered ceiling of Mozarabic style that was lost with time (by a fire in 1620, and by remodeling it underwent afterwards). The current cupola is from the 17th century, work by the son of El Greco, Jorge Manuel Theotocopoulos, who designed it with eight panels and a lantern. In the interior, Cisneros ordered that Juan de Borgoña, in imitation of the paintings of the conquered lands of the Catholic Monarchs, collect paintings that highlight the conquest of Oran.

The Gothic grill that gives way to the interior is from Juan Francés (1524). It has, among other ornamental elements, the coats of arms of Cisneros. On the altar is a mosaic Crucifix from the 18th century. It is said that it was brought from Rome and that the ship was shipwrecked, leaving the image for a time at the bottom of the sea. The crucifix is made of a single piece, carved in Mexican fennel root. Another Gothic grill, work of the Toledan Julio Pascual, separates the choir from the rest of the room. The vault of the chapel is extraordinarily beautiful.

The Mass in Hispano-Mozarabic rite had its origin in the first Christians of the peninsula and was called from its beginning Hispano-Roman rite, also during Visigothic times. The unification of the different rites by Pope Gregory VII did not avoid that in Toledo a local rite be maintained (in the ending called Hispano-Mozarabic), that took its reason for being in the old Hispano-Roman rite. In fact, the disappearance of the rite in its most extensive area, Andalucia, left Toledo as the only place where the style of worship was practiced, which was reduced to six parishes, even though in fact only four maintained it.

Chapel of the New Monarchs

The name Chapel of the New Monarchs is in reference to the new lineage of the Trastámara. The current chapel is located on the north side of the chapels of Saint James and of Leocadia, in the sanctuary, on the north side. It has an odd and difficult access designed by the great architect Alonso de Covarrubias. Before being transferred to this space, it was called Royal Chapel and was located at the foot of the cathedral, on the side nave of the north side (the Gospel ambo side), encompassing the last section, which cut off and impeded passage though the ending of this nave. The Chapter wanted to change the location of this chapel to clear the nave and Archbishop Alfonso de Fonseca y Acevedo asked for permission of the position corresponding to the emperor. But the difficulty was finding a suitable site, which was finally solved thanks to the talent and ability of its architect.

The Chapter wanted to change the location of this chapel to clear the nave and Archbishop Alfonso de Fonseca y Acevedo asked for permission of the position corresponding to the emperor. But the difficulty was finding a suitable site, which was finally solved thanks to the talent and ability of its architect.

:Descripción More than a chapel, it can considered as a small church, of one nave with two sections and a polygonal apse, including a sacristy and an entrance vestubule, original design by Covarrubias. It was built between 1531 and 1534. It is the first great work from Covarrubias in Toledo.

The two sections of the nave have Gothic cross vaults but all of the ornamentation and carving of the sepulchres are Renaissance. They are separated by the grill from Domingo de Céspedes. The first section forms the body of the small church with some altars and in the second section is where the transferred royal tombs are found and placed in Renaissance vaulted tombs, work by Covarrubias. On one side is Henry II and his wife Juana Manuel and in front of them, and in sarcophagi, Henry III the Infirm and Katherine of Lancaster. The praying statue of John II is also located here, whose tomb is in the Chapterhouse of Miraflores in Burgos.

Through the arch that gives access to the presbyterium are two small altars, Neo-Classical work. The main altar is by Mateo Medina. It has a painting by Maella with the theme of the Descension, framed by two Corinthian columns. On both sides of this altar are the tombs with the respective praying statues of John I and his wife Elenor of Aragon.

As a historical memorial, the armor of second lieutenant Duarte de Almeida, who fought in the battle de Toro (where he lost both arms, being made prisoner by the troops of the Catholic Monarchs in 1476), are kept in this chapel.

Chapels of the south wall

Chapel of the Epiphany: located continuing down the Mozarabic chapel. The painting of the retable, attributed to Juan de Borgoña, about the theme of the Adoration of the Magi gives the name to this chapel. It was funded by Luis Daza (died in 1504) who was high chaplain of Henry IV. It has a good grill which closes it, of the style used by the grillworker Juan Francés. The portrait of the chaplain can be viewed as the figure of the donor, in the predella of the retable. On one side of this chapel is his sepulchre, in a Gothic royal tomb.

Chapel of the Conception: is accessed by a grill of much artistic value, which incorporates the coat of arms of the Salcedo family, this because the chapel was funddd in 1502 by Juan de Salcedo, apostolic prothonotary and Toledan canon. In its retable are paintings by Francisco de Amberes and in the left side the sepulchre of the patron.

Chapel of Saint Martin: is also closed by a good grill, signed by Juan Francés with the following signature:

"Juan Francés, high master of grills"

The chapel has a good retable where it is believed the masters Juan de Borgoña and Francisco de Amberes worked. It is divided into three bays and five stories. The central table represents the namesake Saint Martin of Tours and it is believed that Andrés Florentino worked on this. On the sides are the sepulchres with bulks of recumbent statues under the royal tombs of the canons Tomás González de Villanueva and Juan López de León.

Chapel of Saint Eugene: has the uniqueness of retaining the original architecture from the 13th century. It is closed by a grill very similar to the others signed by Juan Francés. In the retablo is the image of the namesake saint, archbishop of Toledo, work of Copín de Holanda. This chapel guards a piece unique for its date and for its art. This is the sepulchre of the Bailiff of Toledo called Fernán Gudiel, who died in 1278. This is a mudéjar work, without architecture nor sculpture, simply with decoration of plasterwork in which blotches (or geometric themes) predominate. The royal tomb is delimited by two double columns that protrude from the upper frieze or cornice adorned with mocárabes. Lining this cornice is an inscription in the Arabic language and characters which say in a repetitive manner:

"The mother of God. To the Virgin Mary"

The other tomb is of the canon and bishop Ferdinand of Castillo, who died in 1521, work wholly by Alonso de Covarrubias.

Chapel of the ambulatory

The original chapels were small and were designed to alternate in size, according to how the vaults were aligned. With time, reforms were made that completely changed the placement and size of some of these.

The original chapels

Chapel of Saint Lucy: also called of Saint Joseph. Its original architecture from the 13th century is preserved. It also contains some pictures and epitaphs.

Chapel of the Old Monarchs: the previous chapel with this name, funded by Sancho IV, was located in the high part of the presbyterium, where the sepulchrs of the monarchs are paid respect. Cardenal Cisneros dismantled it and ordered for it to be moved to the place is now occupys. It is closed with a good grill by Domingo de Céspedes. The chapel contains three interesting retables: the center retable has eleven good Hispano-Flemish tables and a relic of the Holy Face, present from Pope Innocent X, which King Philip IV ordered to be placed here.

Chapel of Saint Ann: with a good plateresque grill and the tomb of its sponsor Juan de Mariana. It is one of the smallest chapels.

Chapel of Saint John the Baptist: closed with a Gothic grill. Its sponsor was the archdeacon of Niebla and canon of Toledo Fernando Díaz de Toledo. In the enclosure a relic with a valuable ivory statue of Christ is preserved. The chapel has a sacristy, with a space corresponding to what was the chapel of Saint Britus or Saint Bricius.

Chapel of Saint Giles: considered as a jewel, the chapel is very small. Its sponsor was Miguel Díaz, canon and apostolic notary, a man of refined taste in terms of art and who commissioned the entire interior be painted with a decoration of Pompeiian style, the style which at that time was fashionable in the Monastery of El Escorial. The grill is also an example of good taste. On its interior, it has a small retable of various marblework.

paces of the Chapterhouse

Continuing onward are three spaces belonging to the Chapterhouse. The first (an old and small chapel) is a type of vestibule through which the second space is entered which is the Ante-Chapterhouse, with a coffering of laceria which has as a finish a plateresque frieze. The entrance door to the Chapterhouse is also a mixture of mudéjar and plateresque, work by Bernardino Bonifacio de Tovar, built in 1510. This vestibule is furnished with good wardrobes designed by Gregorio Pardo.

Chapterhouse: from the part that acts as an ante-chapterhouse, this is accessed through a beautiful door with mudéjar decorations in the so-called Cisneros style. The chapterhouse was commissioned to be built abuting the apse by its south side, by cardinal Cisneros, during the year 1504. The plans were assigned to the architect Enrique Egas.

It is arectangular room with flat walls, with a ceiling covered with a good mudéjar-plateresque coffering, work by Diego López and Francisco de Lara which they designed between 1508 and 1510. The frieze (also called "alicer") has very rich plateresque ornamentation. The entire room is traversed by a wood pew which functions as the seat of honor for the prelates, save the archbishopric chair which is at the end of the room, at the center of the wall, and was carved by Copín de Holanda and finished in 1514. Above the seats of honor, in two rows and traversing the walls are all the portraits of the archbishops from Saint Eugene to the latest. The author of the portraits from Saint Eugene to Cisneros was Juan de Borgoña. Those of Sandoval and Rojas was work by Tristán; of Moscoso, by Ricci; of Iguanzo, by Vicente López.

Between the gallery of portraits and the frieze of the coffering the walls are covered with fresco paintings. This constitutes as one of the great collections of Spanish wall paintings. The painted columns divide the panels where scenes of the life of the Virgin and of the Passion of Christ are represented. This is an exceptional work by Juan de Borgoña.

Capilla of Saint Ildephonsus: is situated in the center of the ambulatory and fronts the Transparente. It is consecrated under the protection of Saint Ildephonsus. Its construction dates from the end of the 14th century, by expressed desire of Cardinal Gil Carrillo of Albornoz (as funeral chapel for himself and his family) [Archbishop of Toledo since 1338, but barely frequented this see.] which he did not see completed. Cardinal Albornoz [Founder of the Royal College of Spain in Bologna.] died in Viterbo (Italy) in 1364 (or 1367) and his body was transferred to Toledo three years later, year in which his sepulchre was made which is shown in the center of this chapel.

The chapel occupied the space of three earlier chapels, one central chapel of a large size [The Spanish art historian and architect Fernando Chueca Goitia thinks that the old central chapel was from early times dedicated to Saint Ildephonsus, since being in the same center of the ambulatory.] and two smaller side chapels. It is of octagonal plan, being one of the first chapels in which the model of eighths was used for funeral chapels.

In the central arch of the entrance is a painting with the portrait of Esteban Illán, who proclaimed Alfonso VIII as king of Castile and did this from the height of the tower of Saint Roman. [Converted into the Museum of the Councils and the Visigothic Culture.] The chapel cuenta with three styles of distintas periods: Gothic in the arches, vaults and a sepulchre; plateresue in the sepulchre of the bishop of Ávila; Neo-Classical in the central retable. This retable of the 18th century was built in marble, jasper and bronze. It was designed by Ventura Rodríguez. The large relief of the center with the theme of the laying of hands of the chasuble on Saint Ildephonsus, built in marble, is work of Manuel Francisco Álvarez. It was completed during the time of Cardinal Lorenzana.

:The sepulchresThe sepulchre of Cardinal Gil Carrillo de Albornoz is in the center of the chapel, with Gothic decoration of small arches and lamenting figures on the four faces. To the right of the retable is the sepulchre of the bishop of Ávila Alonso Carrillo of Albornoz, who died in 1514. This is work of Vasco de la Zarza, Castilian Renaissance sculptor. This is considered the best work of the chapel. The remaining sepulchres are also tombs of the Albornoz family.

Chapel of Saint James: also called chapel of Álvaro de Luna for it was this historical figure who commissioned the chapel to be built and who funded it as a place of burial for himself and his family. It is one of the largest of the ambulatory, occupying the space of three of the old chapels, one large chapel and two small chapels. Its floor plan is in eight parts and very pure and select flamboyant style, of the best examples that exist in Spain. [The flamboyant style came to Spain from northern Europe in already late times and disappeared very quickly being substituted by Isabelline Gothic in Spain and by Manueline in Portugal.] This style is reflected in the entrance arches with their openwork traceries and in the skylight of the blind arches of the interior, and the gables, ornaments (openwork and hanging festoon) and ribs that from the floor cross the vault forming a star. Nevertheless, in the exterior the features are austere, completely Hispanic. It faces the white and pleasant stone in the interior, here granite is used and the cupola tops off like a battlemented castle and with turrets.

:HistoryIn 1435, High Constable Álvaro de Luna [The poet Jorge Manrique dedicated a few verses to him in his work "Coplas to the death of his father":Well that great High Constable,master who we knewvery private,It is not fitting to speak of him,but only that we saw himruined.] was in full apogee of political power. He wanted his own funeral chapel in the primate cathedral for his burial and of his family and because of this he bought the earlier chapel of Saint Thomas of Canterbury which had been commissioned to be built in the 12th century by Queen Eleonor Plantagenet, this being the first chapel dedicated to this saint outside of England. It is known that Álvaro de Luna commissioned his sepulchre to be built while still alive for which a round figure of his person was made that consisted in a somewhat strange device because the bronze figure raised up and knelt down by means of a special mechanism at the moment at which the mass started. When he died, the chapel was still in construction so its completion was placed in care of his wife Juana de Pimentel and later of his daughter María de Luna who commissioned the sculpting the sarcophagi of her parents in 1498, probable date of the completion of the chapel. The construction was brought to completion by the great team of Hanequin de Bruselas.

:RetableThe retable is Gothic, work of Pedro de Gumiel with 14 panels painted by Sancho of Zamora. He was contracted by María de Luna in 1488. In the center is the statue of Saint James, work of Juan de Segovia. In the center of the predella is represented the scene of the "Weeping Before a Dead Christ" and to his sides are the high constable and his wife as patrons accompanied by Saint Francis and Saint Anthony.

:BurialsThe two sepulchres that are in the center of the chapel corresponde to the High Constable Álvaro de Luna and to his wife Juana de Pimentel. The reclining figures are Hispano-Flemish sculptures of Pablo Ortiz. The praying figures of the corners are of high quality. On the sepulchre of the high constable are knights of Saint James and on that of his wife are Franciscan frairs.

In the roya tombs are the burials of Juan de Luna (son of the high constable), Álvaro de Luna (father of the high constable), the archbishop Juan of Cerezuela (brother of the high constable) and archbishop Pedro de Luna (uncle of the high constable). At the present time, this mausoleum pertains to the dukes of the Infante who has his own funeral crypt below the chapel.

Chapel of Saint Leocadia: has a lattice of flamboyant rock. It serves as a funeral chapel for the canon Juan Ruiz Ribera who commissioned for it to be restorated in 1536. His ashes are in an urn located inside of a niche. In the front wall his uncle Juan Ruiz the Elder is buried. In the retable is the namesake image of Saint Leocadia, painting of the 18th century, painted by Ramón Seyro (student of Mariano Salvador Maella, framed in white and black marblework.

Chapel of the Christ of the Column: is a very small space. The most significant feature is the retable attributed to Copín of Holanda, where there are good carvings of Christ attached to the column between Saint Peter and Saint John, in position of prayer.

Chapels of the north wall

Chapel of Saint Peter: is situated between the door of the Clock and that of Sanit Katherine (which leads to the cloister). Its patron was Sancho de Rojas who has his burial in this place. More than a chapel, it is a small church that sometimes serves as parish church. It is accessed by a grill limited by a Gothic façade with archivolts decorated with vegetable and heraldic themes in which repite the coat of arms of the Rojas which has 5 stars. This entrance is over a wall with fresco paintings attributed to Pedro Berruguete or to Íñigo Comontes. Over the vertex of the last archivolt is the bust of the archbishop, and to the right and left the small busts of the 14 ranking bishops of the chapter. In the center and over the statuette of the archbishop is another Gothic image of Saint Peter in Catedra.

Chapel of Mercy: funded by the canon treasurer Alfonso Martínez for his burial. The altar is dedicated to Saint Teresa who's image is attributed to Pedro de Mena or to his studio.

Chapel of the baptismal font: The most notable feature is the entrance grill of Domingo of Céspedes. The baptismal font is a good piece made in bronze, highly decorated with Gothic-Renaissance elements.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Old: has a good entrance grill. It is consecrated to the Virgin of the Old who's image has been venerated for a long time with the belief it is older than the arrival of the Arabs.

Chapel of Doña Teresa de Haro: also known as of the Christ of the Spoons in reference to the ladles of the coat of arms of the López de Padilla family. It was funded by Teresa, lady of the Marshal Diego López de Padilla.

Compositive unity of Herrerian spaces

This is in regards to the comprehensive architectural collection of the spaces of the Sacristy (including vestuary and other rooms), courtyard and house of the Treasurer, chapel of the Tabernacle and chapel of the Eighths or Reliquary, situated at the north side of the cathedral. [Elías Tormo (1869-1957, Spanish art critic and historian) used to say that this arquitectural complex inside of the cathedral is like a small El Escorial transferred to the Mudéjar city of Toledo.]


The sacristy is a space of great proportions which also includes other contiguous pieces: ante-sacristy, vestuary and collection of garments. The ante-sacristy has a rectangular plan. It is a room decorated with great paintings of the Italianationist artists Vincenzo Carducci and Eugenio Caxés, also Francisco Ricci and Luca Giordano.

The design of the sacristy was by Francisco Vergara the Greater and Juan Bautista Monegro, in Herrerian style. The barrel vault with half-moon motifs is lavishly decorate with the paintings of the Neapolitan Luca Giordano. The principal theme is the Laying of Hands of the Chasuble on Saint Ildephonsus, theme which is found repeated throughout the cathedral as much in paintings as in sculpture. On the walls is displayed a great variety of paintings framed with much style, which form an authentic art gallery of great value. The most praised are the 15 of El Greco (with a complete studio), over all "El Expolio", which is as retable of the altar at the back, framed in marblework and two Corinthian columns. The other paintings belong to the artists Luis de Morales, Pedro de Orrente, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Juan de Borgoña, Luis Tristán, Anthony van Dyck, Goya, Bassano the Younger and others. In addition to the paintings, in the sacristy there is a collection of valuable objects headlined by the "Rich Bible of Saint Louis" king of France which dates from 1250, with 750 miniatures on the cover and 5,000 distributed in the manuscript pages of the three volumes. This was an acquisition of Alfonso X of Castile.

In the next room is the vestuary with a ceiling painted by Claudio Coello and José Donoso. In this space are kept good paintings, replicas from Titian ("Pope Paul III"), Velázquez ("Cardinal Gaspar de Borja") and Giovanni Bellini ("Burial of Christ"). There is another series of paintings by great artists whos' collection constitutes an authentic museum. At another space is the collection of garment that includes a large number of valuable pieces. There is a total of 70 suits; rain miters of the 16th and 17th century, some embroidered by the father of Alonso de Covarrubias who held this office. The miter of archbishop Sancho de Aragón, son of James I of Aragon, is special, embroidered with heraldic emblems. Another good example is the miter of Cardinal Gil de Albornoz with Gothic embroidery of scenes of the Bible and saints, principally English. The collection also contains the zucchetto and an embroidered lapette of the great tiara that Charles I of Spain wore at his coronation in Aachen.

There is a Arab standard won in the Battle of Rio Salado. The collection of tapestry pases the 70 exemplary ones. Many are sketches by Rubens, gift made by Archbishop Fernández Portocorracero, which he commissioned ex profeso for the cathedral. Some are displayed on the walls of the cathedral during the days of the festivities of the Corpus Christi.

Chapel of the Virgin of the Tabernacle

Along with the adjacent chapel called of the Eighths, these constitute the best example of Herrerian buildings of this cathedral. The grandour of its new structure and ornamentation of stark Herrerian style of the 16th century (ending) is owed to Cardinal Bernardo de Rojas y Sandoval. The works were initiated by Nicolás de Vergara el Mozo and ended around 1616. Juan Bautista Monegro and Jorge Manuel Theotocópuli (son of the painter) participated.

The chapel is under the protection of the Virgin of the Tabernacle, a Roman-style carving which was covered in silver in the 13th century and later dressed with a mantle studded in pearls. This image was known by the name of Saint Mary. It must be said that a traditional legend says that it belonged to the Apostles and was brought to Toledo by Saint Eugene. Also entering into the legend is the fact that it was hidden at the time of the Muslims and restorated later by King Alfonso VI.

The walls are covered in marblework and its great cupola are supported above pendentives. In the north wall is the altar with the image of the Virgin and in one of the side walls, the sepulchre of Cardinal Sandoval y Rojas.

Chapel of the Eighths

From the chapel of the Tabernacle is the entrance to this chapel by two doors which flank the altar. It is also called chapel of the Reliquary for the many relics that are kept in it. The plan is in eighths. The chapel is crowned by a cupola with lantern which rests on a drum, work of Jorge Manuel Theotocópuli. The walls are decorated with marblework and the cupola with paintings on which Francisco Ricci and Juan Carreño worked. In the retables semi-detached to the walls the reliquaries are kept, some very interesting from an artistic and historic point of view. [The relics that are described form part of the tradition and the legends. Wikipedia takes no side on the reality or falsity of these.] They are kept as a traditional relic a piece of the veil of Saint Leocadia (the Hispano-Roman Toledan virgin) which, according to the legend, was cut by Saint Ildephonsus off the Saint when she appeared in the year 666. It is also said that Recceswinth lent his knife to the saint to perform this act. The knife is also kept as a relic.

tained glass windows

The stained glass windows constitute a very beautiful and important work of art. This cathedral of Toledo is one of the Castilian buildings that preserves the most medieval stained glass windows. Its construction was from the 14th century to the 17th century, and the restorations of the 18th century, with an evolution suitable of the passing of the years and the changes of style.

The oldest and also the most appreciated stained glass windows by its beautiful are those of the rose window of the transept (over the door of the Clock) and some of the ambulatory, even though these have a softer color. Then there are those of the main chapel and those of the north arm of the transept by the east side that display enormous figures of saints and apostles.

Many of the stained glass windows of the 15th century appear documented. It is known that on those of the main chapel and some of the transept worked the glass-maker Jacobo Dolfin and his servant Luis, and on those of the southern transept and some large windows of the main nave by the side of the epistle, the masters Pedro Bonifacio, Cristóbal, and the German monk Pedro. Later appears the local participation of the Toledan master Enrique.

The stained glass windows pertaining to the 16th century are dressed with Renaissance drawings. On these worked renowned masters such as Vasco de Troya (in 1502), Juan de Cuesta (in 1506) and Alejo Ximénez (in 1509-1513) who worked on those of the side naves and the of the west façade. The stained glass windows of the rose window and door of the Lions are work of Nicolás de Vergara el Mozo.

At the beginning of the 18th century, stained glass windows were continued to be made to replace those which had been damaged. The artist Francisco Sánchez Martínez (one of the last glass-makers of the cathedral) was one of the good restorers, even though new designs were no longer produced and the models were repeated. During the years of Spanish Civil War the stained glass windows suffered much deterioration but in the last years of the 20th century a great effort of restoration and recuperation was made giving the collection its brilliance of other periods.

El transparente

One of its more outstanding parts is the Baroque altar called El Transparente, several stories high, with fantastic figures of stucco, painting, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble, a masterpiece of Baroque mixed media by Narciso Tomé enhanced by the daily effect for a few minutes of a shaft of sunlight striking it through an appropriately oriented hole in the roof, giving the impression that the whole altar is rising to heaven. The fully Baroque display makes a strong contrast with the predominant Gothic style of the cathedral. It is from the play of light that this feature of the cathedral derives its name. The cathedral also receives its light through more than 750 stained glass windows, from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, the work of some of the best artists of those times.

The Renaissance grillwork in the cathedral

In the 16th century, the Renaissance style was used on the creations of grillwork. The balusters, the pilasters, and the coronation or crest were made with great delicacy and fine gold work. The baluster is the principal element that articulates or divides the sections and that sometimes serves as a support of candelabra and triangular candelabra. First, they were worked on in the forge and later were worked by lathe. The Renaissance grills are divided into two or three floors which in turn are horizontally divided with help of pillars and thicker columns which intercalate between the thinner balusters. Almost all have a finish with mythological figures, with medallions, candelabra and crowning. They were created in iron to be later plated in gold or silver. The master grillworkers who left their art in this cathedral were: Domingo de Céspedes, Francisco de Villalpando, Juan Francés and Julio Pascual.

Main Treasure of the cathedral

The Treasure is located in what was the old chapel of Saint John, or of the Quo Vadis, or of the Tower, which was known by these three names. It occupies the space fronting the Mozárabe chapel, on the north side, directly below the tower. In reality, it was never a true chapel, instead it served as sacristy to the chapel of the New Monarchs before its transfer. [The transfer of this chapel is already explained in the section that bears its name.]

The Treasure has a unique façade because in the beginning it was going to be the funeral chapel of Cardinal Tavera, due to this sculptures and allusions as much of the death as the person of the Cardinal can be seen here. The façade was designed by Alonso of Covarrubias. It constists of a closed, round arch, in which the linteled door is opened, bordered by two very adorned columns. In the timpanum Covarrubias carved a bust of Saint John the Baptist, inside of a medallion or tondo [Word that was used in this period. It is Italian with the meaning of "round".] held by angel "tenantes". This saint was the patron of Cardinal Tavera. Over the arch there is a niche where the group of sculptures of Quo Vadis is above a floor of shells, in allusion to death (funeral chapel), work of the sculptor Olarte. The group is bordered by balustraded columns of rich ornamentation. On both sides of the niche are the coat of arms of Cardinal Tavera (which is repeated in a smaller size in the space that is between the curve of the arch of the entrance and the group of Quo Vadis, held by two angel "tenantes") and below them, the coat of arms of the canon López de Ayala who was a great mecenas of the cathedral.

In the interior are multiple glass display cabinets that hold the treasure of the cathedral which consists of liturgical objects, relics, crosiers, clothing, etc. There are two good carvings, one of Juan Martínez Montañés and another of Pedro de Mena. The most valuable and important piece is the monumental monstrance of Enrique de Arfe, work from 1517 to 1524. [Has its description apart.]

The monstrance

The most important object that is kept in the chapel of the Treasure is the great monstrance of Enrique de Arfe (commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros) who worked on it between 1517 and 1524. It is of archaic Gothic design and of great architectural beauty. At the beginning it was made in silver but at the ending of the 16th century Archbishop Quiroga commissioned that it be plated in gold, to match the monstrance of the main altar, which is of gold plated wood.

Cardinal Cisneros wanted a monstrance of greater presence and importance than that of Isabella the Catholic to show it off in the procession of the Corpus Christi of Toledo, the most important that was celebrated in Castile. The monstrance took seven years to create and its cost surpassed 15 million maravedís, which Arce received, including the stipulated 2,700 reales, a bonus of 2,500 maravedís that the cathedral's chapter presented to him on Christmas of 1523, having been impressed by his work.

The monstrance has a hexagonal ground plan. It rises with small columns which are exquisitely made, with adornments of gems and varied figurines of angels, saints, fleurons, small bells and clappers. The work encloses in the last section where a cross of the 16th century is located. The pedestal on which it sits is Baroque of the 18th century.

In Toledo, it is by custom, since the year 1595, to carry out this monstrance in the procession of the Corpus Christi, on a float made for this purpose with an adjustable leveling which is mechanically activated. In the procession, ahead of the monstrance the political and ecclesiastical authorities and behind are the cadets of the Infantry Academy.

Curious facts: The monstrance is built with the help of 12,500 bolts which secure it, 5,600 diverse pieces and 260 figurines. 183 kg of silver and 18 of gold were used. Among the recorded inscriptions on it, can be read:

"Don Francisco Jiménez [Cardinal Cisneros] , Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, Governor of Spain and conqueror of Africa, commissioned this monstrance of the Most Holy Body of Christ to be made, which was finished during the vacant see, being worker Diego López de Ayala. Year of the Lord 1524."

Monarchs buried in the cathedral

Throughout history, some kings wanted to make the cathedral their place of repose. Therefore, in different locations of the cathedral, are the sepulchres of:

Monarchs of León

Sancha II 1230, Queen of León.

Monarchs of Castile

Sancho III the Desired, 1157-1158, Main Chapel.

Monarchs of Castile and León

Alfonso VII the Emperor, 1126-1157, and his wife Doña Berenguela, in the Main Chapel,Sancho IV the Bravo, 1284-1295, Main Chapel,Henry II 1369-1379, and his wife Juana Manuel, in the Chapel of the New Monarchs,Juan I 1379-1390, in the Chapel of the New Monarchs,Henry III the Infirm, 1390-1406, and his wife Katherine of Lancaster, in the Chapel of the New Monarchs, John II 1406-1454, Chapel of the New Monarchs: cenotaph; his body is in the Chapterhouse of Miraflores, in Burgos.

The Cloister

Over the old "al-cana" or "alcana" (Hebrew commercial district), on the north side of the cathedral, Archbishop Pedro Tenorio planned the cloister and a chapel which would serve him as a sepulchre.

The works of the cloister were begun in 14 August 1389, with the laying of the first stone, and ended in 1425. On these worked the masters Rodrigo Alfonso and Alvar Martínez in a construction of four corridors with quadripartite vaults. The construction of the cloister was not free of history and legend. Since the fair was in the site where Pedro Tenorio planned his construction, the owners of the stands and shops were reluctant from the start. Eugenio Narbona accounted of the interest of the archbishop to occupy as quickly as possible "the markets, which is the place where the merchandise is sold." During the time in which the archbishop and the owners debated over the purchase and the prices, misfortune came in form of a fire which destroyed the entire market. So Pedro Tenorio took advantage of this for his purchase and, here enters the legend, the archbishop was accused of having provoced the disaster to be able to acquire the plots.

Given the release of the zone, a meter and a half was constructed above the level of the plan of the cathedral and in a way that it could support two heights, which was done with the arrival of Cardinal Cisneros. Tenorio did not spare any effort in ensuring that the grandeur and majesty of the cloister was worthy of cathedral Gothic.

It is worth noting, there being no monastic order in the cathedral, the destiny of the cloister and the rest of the pieces that were built along its perimeter had very different functiones at the time: from storeroom to classroom; as a place of mercantile transactions (recuperating the sense of the old "alcana") or of prayer. It came to be a place of city gatherings and one of its halls was a Mozarabic chapel.

The Chapel of Saint Blaise

The chapel of Saint Blaise (by Pedro Tenorio) is on the lower level, covered by a vault of eights that is a reminder of the chapel's purpose as a funeral chapel. It is entered from the cloister itself and the start of work on it is debated: in general, a period that spanned from 1389 to 1398 is accepted, being finished shortly before the death of Pedro Tenorio, known for certain to be 10 May 1399.

It is situted seven meters below street level, decision made after the beginning of construction due to the clutered image it was to the eye, which in the long run generated many humidity problems. The archbishop left prepared in writing the consecration to Saint Blaise and the income and debts of the chapter were established for its sustainment.

The chapel is decorated in two different parts. First, from the cornice to the ceiling, the Creed is represented in fourteen scenes in the manner of the hands of a clock. At the lower part of the cornice is the Final Judgement and scenes of saints. The authorship of the works is not clear, even though it remains attributed without a doubt to Florentine painters among who are mentioned as very probable Gherardo Starnina and Nicolás de Antonio. The restorations deficient made and the deterioration that throughout the years has produced humidity has damaged the paintings closes to the floor, in some cases irremediably.

At the beginning of the 21st century, a profound restoration of this chapel, consolidating the paintings and giving them back their original color and splendor, with the exception of those lost, irremediable fragments. A second task is close to being brought to a finish: the elimination of the humidity coming from the street "Hombre de Palo", which could damage the collection again.

Music of the cathedral

The Renaissance occurred in all of Europe with an extension of religious music beyond the monasteries, becoming a key piece in the Eucharistic liturgy. To the grandeur of the cathedral a spectacular ritual must be provided where music has the mission of embracing the architectural work and continuing the glorification of God. Since 1440, the polyphonic vocal pieces spread throughout Castile and Aragon with force. Instrumental music was produced by the organ, which quickly found a place in archpriest cathedrals and churches.

In the cathedral of Toledo, the most important organ is the so-called "Organ of the Emperor", in the transept of the cathedral. Next are the so-called "General", the organ by "Echevarria" and the organ by "Verdalonga", located in the choir. Cardinal Cisneros, with the reform of the chapel of the Corpus Christi for the Mozarabic rite, with Mozarabic chant, introduced in the chapel another organ. Others are also in the rest of the important chapels: that of the New Monarchs (which has two), of the Alcázar, of the Virgin of the Sacristy and of Saint Peter.

Not only the organ was important. With the passing of the years, wind instruments were introduced (flageolets, flutes and sackbuts), harps and other string instruments, like the so-called viola, which served as accompaniment to the vocal music. With the creation of the Chapel of Music throughout the 16th and 17th century the oboe and the double bass were being incorporated, in advance of the flageolet and the sackbut.

The "Six-piece" or "Children's choir" of the cathedral were created as vocal group for Cardinal Silíceo who, in 22 July 1557, founded for these the College of Our lady of the Infantes, even though earlier the existence of "moços" (boys) who sang in the liturgical services was already mentioned in the 12th century. They were and are the Choir of the cathedral and of the Chapel of Music. In its constitution of the 16th century, its red clothing was already established, which it still keeps with white surplice. In the College lived, generally, the kapellmeister and other professors with the boys, who assured their formation and, including, for a time, their incorporation into the Royal University of Toledo. The constitutional charter, drafted by Silíceo on 9 May of 1557, specifically instructed in its sixth point:

"...we order that another master be found to instruct the said boy singers to sing Gregorian chant and organ chant and counterpoint, from whom the same way information is found cómo is old xpi.ano, conforming to the Statute, Priest and of good fame and name and sufficiently learned in the faculty of Music, who will show the said boy singers to all sing the days of festivals and Sundays one hour before eating, and another after having eatten, and another at the end of the day, and the other school days each day a lesson after having dined"

Among the kapellmeisters, stood out Cristóbal de Morales (along the lines of "Emendemus in melius" and "Peccatem me Quotidie"), who had worked in the Sistine Chapel of Rome and came to compose 21 masses and more than 70 motets, Matías Durango de los Arcos, Alonso Lobo, Juan de Bonet and Paredes, Andrés de Torrentes, Ginés de Boluda and Francisco Juncá y Carol.

The influence of the music of the cathedral of Toledo was decisive in Spanish religious music. Not only in Mozarabic chant, but also in providing kapellmeisters who later went to other dioceses like Seville or Jaén, six-pieces which formed choirs in other cathedrals and even variations of Gregorian chant in the form of what is known as "Cantus Eugenianus", "Cantus Melodicus" or "Vulgo Melodía", owing to the melody masters of the cathedral (up to 18 masters have been accounted; this figure disappears with the Concordat of 1851) and whose majority of compositions is kept in the cathedral library.

Model and influence of the cathedral in religious architecture

Ximénez de Rada and those who followed him used master builders who had worked or had experience in French Gothic. The cathedrals of Paris or Le Mans were its point of reference. Nevertheless, as much as by the influence of the Mozarabic rite, as also by the Visigothic tradition and Castilian liturgy, the constructive solutions were accepted to a good degree such as the counter-rests, the buttresses or the pointed arches, but they resisted in importing the impressive French sanctuaries where the choir and the altar were located, opting for some smaller ones and situating the choir in the central nave. This had been the solution of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which came first.

These characteristics, joined with the condition of primate cathedral, favored the extension of the model to the rest of the Spanish cathedrals, with the exception of that of Burgos and that of León which followed the French model with more fidelity. It can be noticed that the disposition of spaces is repeated in the cathedral of Cádiz, of Seville, of Palma of Mallorca, among others. And, as was foreseeable, the Spanish Empire carried the model of the "Dives Toletana" beyond, conditioning those which were constructed in the Americas and the Philippines.


The magnificence of the cathedral of Toledo has always raised among the critics and historians of art great admirations and compliments. Here are some citations from importantes persons in the world of art and architecture.

*The French historian and archeologist Élie Lambert (1888-1961) made a profound study over Gothic art in general and over the cathedral of Toledo in particular. He wrote:

*Manuel Bartolomé Cossío (1857-1935), pedagogue and Spanish university professor, made the following critique:

*The architect born in Madrid Leopoldo Torres Balbás (1888-1960), says (Ars Hispaniae, VII):

*King Alfonso X the Wise explains the reason for its construction in these terms:



* CAMÓN AZNAR, José. General History of Art, Volume 18, Summa Artis collection. Spanish sculpture and grillwork of the 16th century. Espasa Calpe S.A. editorial, Madrid 1961.
* CAMÓN AZNAR, José; MORALES Y MARÍN, José Luis; VALDIVIESO, Enrique. General History of Art, Volume 27, Summa Artis collection. Spanish Art of the 18th Century. Espasa Calpe S.A. editorial, Madrid 1984.
* CHUECA GOITIA, Fernando. The Cathedral of Toledo. Everest editorial, León 1975. ISBN 84-241-4719-7.
* ENRÍQUEZ DE SALAMANCA, Cayetano. Curiosities of Toledo. El País-Aguilar editorial, Madrid 1992. ISBN 84-03-59167-5.
* MARTÍ Y MONSÓ, José. Historic-artistic Studios Principally Relative to Valladolid. Based on the investigation of different archives. First edition 1892-1901. Second edition facsimil, Valladolid 1992, Ámbito S.A. editorial. ISBN 84-86770-74-2.
* NAVASCUÉS, Pedro y SARTHOU, Carlos. Cathedrals of Spain. Espasa Calpe 1996. ISBN 84-239-7645-9.
* NIETO SIRIA, José Manuel. Church and Genesis of the Modern State in Castile (1369-1480), Madrid, 1993.
* PIJOAN, José. General History of Art, Volume 11, Summa Artis collection. Gothic Arte of Western Europe, 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. Espasa Calpe S.A. editorial, Madrid 1953.
* POLO BENITO, José. Arte in Spain. Cathedral of Toledo. National Board of Tourism. J. THOMAS, Barcelona H editorial.
* RIERA VIDAL. One Day in Toledo. ISBN 84-400-5928-0.
* SÁNCHEZ-PALENCIA, ALMUDENA. Foundations of Archbishop Tenorio: The chapel of San Blaise in the Cathedral of Toledo. County Council of Toledo, 1985.
* VV.AA. Spanish Episcopal Conference. Eucharistic Celebration According to the Hispano-Mozarabic Rite. Madrid, 2000. ISBN 84-931476-5-6.
* ZARCO MORENO, Francisco. Toledo. Everest editorial, León 1974. ISBN 84-241-4396-5.

See also

* Councils of Toledo

External links

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