The 23 best sights of Toledo – descriptions and photos

Toledo

Toledo (Spain) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. Toledo’s main attractions with descriptions, guides and maps.

Toledo (Spain).

Toledo is a city in Central Spain, the capital of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. This ancient capital of the Kingdom of Spain has many interesting sights and the old city has preserved its medieval layout and architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Toledo is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, which is called the “City of Three Cultures”. The historic center is a real open-air museum, where you can see the magnificent old stone buildings and quiet cobblestone streets, a dazzling array of cultural and historical heritage: churches, monasteries, palaces, fortresses, synagogues.

Toledo is one of the most visited places in the country, known for its traditional crafts, damask steel and delicious marzipan. The city is famous for its works of art – the masterpieces of El Greco, presented in many churches and monasteries as well as in the museum.

Toledo Panorama

Toledo Panorama

Things to do (Toledo):

Evening Toledo

€130 per tour.

Evening Toledo

Walk by evening lights and discover the mysterious atmosphere of the former capital of Spain.

Understand and love Toledo

€130 per tour.

Understand and love Toledo

Medieval city where history is frozen in stone.

Geography and Climate

Toledo is located in the center of Spain, 70 km from Madrid, on the banks of the Tajo (Tagus), the biggest river of the Iberian Peninsula. The historical center is located on the right bank of the Tajo, on a hill. The city is divided into four districts.

Toledo has a cold semi-arid climate, typical of Central Spain. Precipitation is mostly frequent in spring and late fall. Summers are hot and dry. Winters are cool with frequent frosts.

The Streets of Toledo

Streets of Toledo

Tourist information

  1. Population – 83.7 thousand people.
  2. Area – 232.1 square kilometers.
  3. Official language is Spanish.
  4. Currency is euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. The addresses of the tourist information centers are: Plaza de Zocodover, 8, Paseo de Merchán s/n and Plaza del Consistorio, 1.

History

Toledo is one of the oldest cities in Spain. It was founded by the Romans who founded the fortress of Toledo. In the first half of the 5th century the settlement was conquered by the Visigoths, who made it the capital of their kingdom. In 712 Toledo was conquered by the Moors who, in turn, made the city the capital of their state. During the Moorish period Toledo was famous for its steel.

At the end of the 11th century Toledo was conquered by the Castilian crown. The kings of Castile made the city their residence. In fact the capital of ancient Spain the city remained until 1561, when Philip II relocated the capital to Madrid.

The streets of Toledo

The streets of Toledo

Today you can wander the tiny ancient streets of the city and discover the many sights of Toledo that mark the fascinating history of the Spanish “imperial city”. Nowhere else in Spain will you see so many historic buildings and cultural monuments concentrated in one place.

How to get there

Toledo is about 70 km from the Spanish capital to the southwest of the A-42 freeway. The nearest airport is in Madrid. Buses run every half hour between Toledo and the bus station Plaza Elíptica in Madrid. The trip takes about an hour. By high-speed train can be reached in 33 minutes. The train leaves from Madrid’s Atocha station.

The night streets of Toledo

The night streets of Toledo

Shopping

Toledo is not the best city for shopping but if you like handicrafts you are definitely in. The city is famous all over Spain for its antique swords, steelwork and ceramics. Toledo is also famous for its marzipan.

If you want to try authentic paella, Toledo is not the best option. Although it, like any tourist center, offers many cafes and restaurants to choose from. Toledo’s gastronomy is shaped by three cultures, so you can find Jewish, European and Muslim dishes.

Some traditional dishes:

  • Perdíz a la Toledana – braised partridge with spices.
  • Carcamusas – beef or pork stew with tomatoes and peas.
  • Tres vuelcos – stew with vegetables and chickpeas.
  • Cochifrito – roast pig with garlic.
  • Atascaburras – trout (cod) with potatoes and garlic.

Attractions

Toledo’s main sights with photos and descriptions.

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Old Town

Old City

The old town is a maze of narrow medieval streets, quiet courtyards and old stone buildings which will literally take you back in time. The historic center is located on a hill on the right bank of the river Tagus. As you explore the old city, you can find sites of Moorish, Jewish and even remnants of the Roman past.

Cathedral

Cathedral

The Cathedral is an amazing masterpiece of Gothic art and one of the most important religious buildings in Spain. The church sits on ancient Roman foundations. During the reign of the Visigoths there was built the first basilica, which under the Moors was replaced by a mosque. It is interesting that Alfonso VI, after conquering Toledo, promised to keep the building as a mosque for the Muslim population of the city. This promise was broken in 1226 when construction began on the grandiose Gothic cathedral. The building was built until the end of the 15th century, so it is a mix of several architectural styles from Gothic to Spanish Renaissance and Mudejar. Among the priceless art collection of the cathedral, the highlight is the Twelve Apostles by El Greco.

The church is located in the old town near the Jewish quarter. To enter the cathedral, visitors must pass through the Puerta de Molle, where food used to be served to the poor. Inside, the church is striking in size and interior decoration. The collection of 88 ornate columns, exquisite stained glass from the 14th-16th centuries, and the grand choir make a striking impression. The Capilla de Santiago houses magnificent marble tombs. The sacristy contains paintings by Morales, van Dyck, Raphael, Rubens and Titian.

San Juan de los Reyes

San Juan de los Reyes

San Juan de los Reyes is a 15th-century Franciscan monastery located in the northwestern part of the Giuderia district. The exterior facade features chains of Christians freed from Moorish captivity. The monastery has a magnificent chapel with a single nave and a stunning vault. The building is considered one of the finest examples of Late Gothic architecture in Spain.

Synagogue del Trancito

Synagogue del Trancito

The Synagogue del Trancito is Toledo’s most famous Jewish monument, located in the heart of the Jewish quarter. The synagogue was built at the end of the 14th century and is decorated with Moorish elements as well as intricate geometric and floral motifs and inscriptions in Arabic and Hebrew. Magnificent windows with curved arches allow light to penetrate the building and the interior features an exquisite ceiling. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the building was given to the Order of the Knights. It now houses a museum. Admission is free on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.

In the heart of the old Jewish quarter (Calle Samuel Leví, 3) is the house of El Greco. It’s a museum that features interesting exhibits by the famous painter and sculptor. Although El Greco himself never lived here.

Iglesia de Santo Tomé

Iglesia de Santo Tomé

Iglesia de Santo Tomé is a small 12th-century church located west of the cathedral on the border with the Jewish quarter. The church was renovated in the 14th century by Count Orgaz in the Gothic style with a mudejar tower. The church contains one of El Greco’s major masterpieces, the Burial of Count Orgaz, created in 1586.

Santa Maria la Blanca

Santa Maria la Blanca

Santa Maria la Blanca is a church formed from an ancient synagogue. Located in the Jewish quarter of Toledo. The majestic Mudejar-style synagogue was built in the 12th century and is several centuries older than El Transito. The structure is interesting for its columns. It is not currently a religious institution, although it is open to the public.

Cristo de la Luz

Cristo de la Luz

The Cristo de la Luz is a small chapel that was built as an Arab mosque in 999 on the site of an earlier church of the Visigoths. The original Moorish building, with its arcaded façade and series of arches, resembles the mosque of Cordoba and is virtually intact.

Alcázar

Alcázar

The Alcázar is an ancient Moorish hilltop fortress built on the site of an early Roman fort and later rebuilt by the Spanish kings. This imposing structure has a square shape with a crenellated defense and four corner towers, which were added in the 16th century. The walls of the fortress now house an army museum.

Iglesia de San Ildefonso

Iglesia de San Ildefonso

Iglesia de San Ildefonso is one of the Baroque masterpieces of Toledo. This Jesuit church began construction in 1629. The construction lasted an entire century. Interestingly, the church consists of more than 100,000 bricks. The dome of the building is one of the highest points of the city. And the impressive interior contains two paintings by El Greco.

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Ancient Mosque

Ancient Mosque

The mosque or church of Santiago del Arrabal is one of Toledo’s oldest buildings. The mosque was built a thousand years ago, but it still looks beautiful today. This makes it one of the most important parts of Spain’s Moorish heritage. Two centuries after it was built, it was converted into the Christian church of Santiago del Arabal. The building was built of brick and is closed to the general public.

Toledo Walls

The city walls of Toledo

The first city walls were built by the Romans, then upgraded by the Visigoths and later expanded by the Moors and Christians. Some sections of the walls are in excellent condition and are a reminder of the city’s rich history. Some sections of the walls can even be walked on. The only well-preserved part of the Moorish city walls is the section by the Puerta Vieja de Bisagra Gate.

Bisagra Gate

Gate of Bisagra

The Bisagra Gate is the main entrance to Toledo from the plain. It was built by the Moors in the 10th century. The triumphal arch of the gate is protected by two circular defensive towers. Above the arch is a huge relief with the city’s coat of arms, and beyond the entrance is a courtyard with battlements and another pair of towers.

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol

The Puerta del Sol is the northern gate of the city, built in the late 14th century in the Mudejar style. It is a huge stone portal topped with crenellated walls and many decorative elements.

San Martin Bridge

San Martin Bridge

The San Martin Bridge is a medieval bridge on the west side of the old city built in the 13th century. Throughout its existence it was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries. The biggest changes were made during the reign of Charles II in the 17th century. Since then, the bridge, protected by towers at the beginning and at the end, has remained unchanged.

Alcantara Bridge

Alcantara Bridge

The Alcantara Bridge is another ancient bridge over the Tahoe River. The first bridge on this site was built by the Romans. It is clear that the structure has been rebuilt several times after being damaged during numerous wars. The bridge suffered its greatest damage in the 10th century. It was rebuilt again during the reign of Alfons X a century later. A Baroque triumphal arch was added to the entrance in the early 18th century. The entrance is protected by a crenellated tower.

Zocodover

Zokodover Square

The Zocodover Square, the center of the city for many centuries, is still Toledo’s busiest place. In Moorish times it was a large marketplace where mules, ponies and horses were sold. After the conquest of Toledo by the Christians, autodafes were held here.

Tavera Hospital

Tavera Hospital

Tavera Hospital is a large complex of buildings filled with famous works of art. Exhibits include the marble tomb of Cardinal Alonso Berruguete, sculptures and paintings by El Greco, and works by Alonso Sanchez Coelho, Juan Francisco Zurbarán, Luca Giordano, and others.

Cambron Gate

Cambron Gate

The Cambron is the western gate, often referred to as the Jewish gate. The gate is of Arab origin. Although most of them and the towers were completed in the 16th century. It was badly damaged during the civil war in 1936.

Interesting tours

Toledo - a story you can touch

€170 for a guided tour

Toledo – a history you can touch

Experience real Spain and see a fusion of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian

Shalom from Toledo

€180 for the tour

Shalom from Toledo

Learn about the history and culture of Spanish Jews on a walk through the former Jewish quarter

23 Toledo attractions that we recommend you visit

Sights of Toledo (Spain)

Today our way lies in Toledo (Spain), the attractions of this place are extremely diverse, because the city has quite a rich history – here different cultures and dynasties were mixed, talented artists were born and significant events took place. In short, it is one of the most important cultural centers in Spain, which any self-respecting tourist must visit.

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral. | Photo: wikimedia.

Toledo’s main church is among the top ten cathedrals in Spain. It is a classic example of medieval Gothic architecture, so you can find many features of this style in the interior, including rose windows, arched buttresses, ribbed vaults and pointed arches.

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The inside of the cathedral is a veritable art gallery of old-school paintings including Velázquez, Goya and of course, El Greco.

Address: Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada, Calle Cardenal Cisneros, 1, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

San Juan de los Reyes Monastery

San Juan de los Reyes Monastery

San Juan de los Reyes Monastery.| Photo: wikimedia.

The Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand deliberately erected this huge Franciscan monastery and 15th-century church in the heart of the Jewish quarter to demonstrate the superiority of their faith. The rulers had planned to find their repose here, but fate decided otherwise and their remains now rest in Granada.

The monastery is typified by its two-tiered structure, a harmonious blend of late (“bright”) Gothic at the bottom and Mudejar at the top.

Address: San Juan de los Reyes, Calle de los Reyes Católicos, 17, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Synagogue del Transito Museum

Synagogue del Transito Museum

Museum of the Synagogue del Transito.| Photo: wikimedia.

This magnificent synagogue was built in 1355 with the special permission of King Pedro I. It is now home to the Sephardic Museum. After restoration, the huge prayer complex has been restored to its former beauty, so now you have the opportunity to enjoy its Moorish decorations and the graceful pine ceiling with patterned carvings.

The museum’s exhibits shed light on the history of the development of Jewish culture in Spain and include archaeological finds, a memorial garden, costumes and ceremonial artifacts.

The address is Sinagoga del Tránsito, Calle Samuel Levi, Toledo, Spain.

Santa Cruz Museum

Santa Cruz Museum

Santa Cruz Museum | Photo: wikimedia.

It’s hard to imagine that this building was once a hospital in the 16th century. Now its magnificent decorative portico welcomes all visitors to the beautiful museum of art and ceramics.

The Pièce de résistance is a huge gallery on the first floor, laid out in the shape of a cross. All sorts of paintings and sculptures are accompanied by explanatory plaques, looking at which you can learn the history of a particular exhibit.

Address: Museo de Santa Cruz, Calle Miguel de Cervantes, 3, 45001 Toledo, Spain.

El Greco House Museum

El Greco House Museum

El Greco house-museum.| Photo: santiago lopez-pastor / Flickr.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a wealthy aristocrat bought the house where he thought El Greco lived and had it restored in the spirit of the times. The buyer was mistaken – El Greco never lived in the building, but the museum named after him still operates and is popular.

The museum has a good collection of the master’s works, including The Redeemer, paintings of the apostles and works by his son and followers. Among other things, you can see the excavated ruins of the basement of an ancient palace.

Address: Museo del Greco, Paseo Tránsito, s/n, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Museum of Visigothic Culture

Visigothic Museum

Museum of Visigothic Culture.

This people is sometimes disparagingly called “Invisigoths” (the first part of the word is conventionally translated as “invaders”) because of the destruction they wreaked on Europe during the Middle Ages. The Visigoths took their place in a little-known section of Spanish history, lost between the period of Roman rule and that of the Moors.

Little is known of their culture, and little more can be learned about it than in Toledo, the city which was in fact the capital of the Visigoths in the sixth and seventh centuries. In this humble but fascinating museum, housed in the 13th century Church of San Romana, you can learn more about the life of this ancient and invading people.

Address: Museo de los Concilios y la Cultura Visigoda, Calle San Román, s/n, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Hospital Tavera.

Tavera Hospital

Tavera Hospital | Photo: wkimedia.

Tavera is a tandem of several attractions under one roof. An outstanding representative of Spanish Renaissance architecture, this former hospital building has been transformed into an art gallery celebrating the work of El Greco and other local masters.

The elegant double patio with its openwork colonnade and the striking (albeit unfinished) altarpiece by El Greco are distinctive features of the Tavera.

Address: Hospital de Tavera, Calle Duque de Lerma, 2, 45003 Toledo, Spain.

Tapestry and Textile Museum

Tapestry and Textile Museum

Tapestry and textile museum. | Photo: santiago lopez-pastor / Flickr.

The Tapestry and Textile Museum opened in 2014 in a former seventeenth-century college for singers. Here you can see magnificent fifteenth-century tapestries, most of which focus on religious themes. The largest exhibit reaches almost 10 meters in length.

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Every year on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the tapestries are taken outside the walls of the museum (even in spite of the obvious harmful effects of the environment). On the first floor of the museum there is a curious exhibit about the former college where you can hear the students singing with a chorus recorded on tape.

Address: Museo de Textiles y Orfebrería, Plaza Colegio Infantes, 11, 45001 Toledo, Spain.

Church of San Ildefonso

San Ildefonso Church

Church of San Ildefonso.

Not far from the cathedral, a rather massive baroque church of St. Ildefonso sits on a charming square. Its facade features two towers, and the colorful interior is adorned with paintings by El Greco.

Visitors have no problem getting inside and can even climb the tower for a stunning view of the city.

Address: Jesuit Church, Plaza Padre Juan de Mariana, 1, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

San Servando Castle

View of Castel San Servando

View of the Castle of San Servando.

On the left bank of the river opposite the bridge of Alcantara is the Castle of San Servando. It was created in the XIV century as a monastery by order of Alfonso VI, but because of its strategic location it was often used for military purposes.

The castle is a striking example of a Mudejar-style fortress, its formidable towers, battlements and distinctive Arab-style gate will surely leave a lasting impression on you. The only drawback is that the castle is closed to the public, so tourists can only enjoy the view from the outside.

Address: San Servando Castle, Subida Castillo San Servando, 45006 Toledo, Spain.

Monastery of Santo Domingo el Antiguo

Monastery of Santo Domingo el Antiguo

Monastery of Santo Domingo el Antiguo. | Photo: wikimedia.

This incredibly ancient 11th-century monastery carefully guards one of El Greco’s earliest works, The Ascension of Mary (1679), which is painted in the center of a massive gilded altar.

The painter painted this painting before he became famous, so it differs slightly in style from the artist’s typical works. Through a small window with iron bars you can see the leaden coffin with the body of El Greco.

Address: Convento de Santo Domingo El Antiguo, Pl. Sto Domingo Antiguo, 2, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Viewpoint Mirador del Valle

View from the Mirador del Valle

View from the Mirador del Valle.

If you haven’t decided what to see in Toledo, head to the Mirador del Valle Lookout to get a great view of the city and decide what to see first.

For this you have to cross the Rio Tahoe and climb the road up the hill. The view here is exactly the same as in El Greco’s famous “View of Toledo” (1596-1600).

Address: Mirador del Valle, Ctra. Circunvalación, s/n, 45004 Toledo, Spain.

Church of San Tomé

Church of Santo Tomé

Church of Santo Tomé.

The Church of Santo Tomé contains El Greco’s most famous masterpiece, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, to which a separate entrance leads from the Plaza del Conde. It is believed that at the moment of the count’s funeral in 1322, St. Augustine and St. Stephen are said to have descended from heaven to the tomb.

A work by El Greco depicts this event and shows the master and his son as well as Cervantes.

Address: Iglesia de Santo Tomé, Plaza del Conde, 4, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Alcantara Bridge

Alcantara Bridge

Bridge of Alcantara.

Not far from Santa Cruz Hospital you can find the Bridge of Alcantara, crossing the deep Tagus Gorge. The bridge was built by the ancient Romans, and in 866 the Moors completely rebuilt the crossing. The current bridge was supposedly built in the XIII-XIV centuries.

The Puerta de Alcantara tower appeared at the western end of the bridge in 1484 and the Baroque gate at its western end was added much later, in 1721. From the bridge you can admire a magnificent view of the city rising from the river on steep slopes.

Address: Puente de Alcántara, 45006 Toledo, Spain.

Church of Santiago del Arrabal

Church of Santiago del Arrabal

Church of Santiago del Arrabal. | Photo: wikimedia.

This 13th-century church can be found on one of Toledo’s outskirts near the city walls. Santiago del Arrabal is one of Toledo’s most stunning examples of Mudéjar architecture.

Its sumptuous brick and stone façade is adorned with graceful Arabic portals and cladding with oriental patterns. The church is closed to tourists, but no one bothers to enjoy its exterior from the street.

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Address: Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal, Plaza Santiag Arrabal, 4, 45003 Toledo, Spain.

Church of El Salvador

Church of El Salvador

Church of El Salvador.

This not particularly popular, but extremely curious church can tell a lot about Toledo’s complicated history. Before 1159 it was a mosque, and before the mosque there was a Visigoth shrine on the site.

One of the most striking artifacts of El Salvador is an old Visigoth pilaster depicting people, which later builders used as a support for the roof.

Address: Iglesia del Salvador, Plaza el Salvador, S/N, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Cristo de la Luz Mosque

Cristo de la Luz Mosque

Cristo de la Luz Mosque.

On the northern slopes of the city you can find a modest but very beautiful mosque (one of the 10 surviving mosques in Toledo), the decoration of which bears architectural traces of the medieval Muslim conquests.

The Cristo de la Luz was built around the 11th century and suffered the fate typical of mosques: it was turned into a church, but the original arches and vaults have survived until the present day in their original state.

Address: Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz, Calle Cristo de la Luz, 22, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Socodover Square

Socodover Square

Socodover Square. | Photo: santiago lopez-pastor / Flickr.

This lively square has long been the center of the city. From 1465 to the 1960s there was a market here on Tuesdays, which was the successor of the Arabic “suk ad dawab” (“cattle market”), hence its name.

In this square Toledo residents have enjoyed bullfights for centuries and witnessed public burnings at the stake during the Inquisition. Unfortunately, in recent years even this place has fallen to the giants of the fast-food industry, and now there is only one local cafe.

The address is Plaza Zocodover, 45001 Toledo, Spain.

Cerro del Bú Hill

View of Cerro del Bú hill

View of Cerro del Bú hill. | Photo: wikimedia.

This small but rather steep hill, located on the less populated bank of the Tajo River, may surprise you with the ruins of a 10th century Moorish fort.

Down from the main road descends a path that leads to a board with a map of the area and explanatory notes. The best way to combine a visit to this hill is to hike to the Mirador del Valle lookout point nearby.

Address: Cerro del Bu, 45006 Toledo, Spain.

Santa Maria La Blanca Synagogue

Santa Maria La Blanca Synagogue

The synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca.

The smaller of the two Mudéjar-style synagogues in Toledo, it has five naves divided by rows of horseshoe arches. Originally, the upper row of arches separated the prayer rooms for the women, who were upstairs while the men prayed below.

The capitals of the columns are decorated with elegant pine cones, a traditional Middle Eastern element associated with the unity of the people of Israel.

Address: Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca, Calle de los Reyes Católicos, 4, 45002 Toledo, Spain.

Archaeological Museum Roman Baths

Archeological Museum Roman Baths

Roman Baths Archaeological Museum. | Photo: ctj71081 / Flickr.

The underground ruins of the Roman baths of Toledo can be seen from the passageway that goes past the two rooms. You can also see the remains of an ancient Moorish water system from the 8th century, next to which a large villa once stood.

Address: Termas Romanas, Plaza Amador de los Ríos, 3, 45001 Toledo, Spain.

The New Bisagra Gate

New Bisagra Gate

New Bisagra Gate | Photo: wikimedia.

Much of the old city walls are fairly well preserved to this day, so the first thing many tourists see when they get to old Toledo are the imposing towers of the northern city gate, decorated with the coat of arms of Carlos I.

The address is Puerta Nueva de Bisagra, Calle Real del Arrabal, 26, 45003 Toledo, Spain.

The Military Museum of the Alcázar

View of the Alcázar War Museum

View of the military museum of the Alcázar.

On the highest point of the city the mighty Alcázar is beautiful. The castle was rebuilt under Franco, after which it was turned into a huge military museum.

There are a variety of uniforms and medals on display, but the most interesting section is the history section, with extensive descriptions of the country’s history in Spanish and English. The galleries are immense and it takes a lot of mental and physical effort to get through all the information in one go.

Address: Alcázar, Calle de la Union, s/n, 45001 Toledo, Spain.

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