Toledo is a unique Spanish city of the Middle Ages, which has remained virtually intact. This town is very small by today’s standards, only about 2.5 km in diameter. It is located on a cliff, and around it rise ancient fortress walls. There is certainly something to see in Toledo, because it is a real museum. So, let’s begin our tour of Toledo’s sights.
Top 7 Sights of Toledo
Today, medieval Toledo is a world heritage site and is protected by UNESCO. The rich history and extraordinary, perfectly preserved architecture attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. To see the main attractions of Toledo, you can make a route on your own. Consider the most interesting places in the city.
Abode of San Juan de los Reyes
The active monastery of San Juan de los Reyes is a Franciscan active monastery. Today it is home to several dozen monks with lifelong and temporary vows. The monastery was founded in honor of the victory of Christianity over the Portuguese in the struggle for the Castilian succession. The complex was originally built as a future tomb for the royal family, but later Grenada became its burial place.
The peculiarity of the building is the fact that the entire complex is built from solid pieces of granite, and its facades are decorated with numerous coats of arms and sculptural reliefs of mystical animals.
The monastery is located in the western part of the town. It stands majestically on the banks of the Tahoe River near the St. Martin’s Bridge. Today most of the complex is open to the public except for the monks’ cells. The cost of the tour is 2.5 euros. The sanctuary is open daily from 10:00 to 17:30.
Visiting the temple is not available only 2 days a year – December 25 and January 1.
Puerta del Cambron Gate
If you are wondering what to see in Toledo, pay attention to the symbol of the city, the Puerta del Cambron. The gate is part of a defensive structure that protected residents from enemy troops. They were built during the Arab rule, and therefore in their architecture have preserved echoes of that great civilization. Later the gate was rebuilt and expanded many times, and today it appears to tourists in a mixture of styles of the Arab era and the magnificent Renaissance.
The Puerta del Cambron gate is located in the eastern part of the fortress, opposite the monastery of St. John. Attendance is free. You can arrange a tour on your own or book a trip with a guide at local travel companies. You can get to the gate by bus from any central stop of public transport.
Museo de Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz Museum is housed in the former Holy Cross Hospital. Today there are weapons, fragments of sarcophagi, and various church utensils on display. The paintings of the great painter El Greco are of particular value. You can also enjoy works by Francisco Goya, Luca Giordano, and Ribera in the gallery. An entire room on the second floor of the building is devoted to paintings. The museum is among the most famous attractions in Spain. Tourists are attracted here by the name of the famous artist, as well as a collection of unique artifacts from the Middle Ages.
The cost of admission is 5 euros, and after 5 p.m. admission is absolutely free. Admission is open every day until 10:30 a.m., except on official weekends. If you are lucky you can get to temporary exhibitions and fashion shows, which are held at the museum on a regular basis. You can get to the museum by public transport, having previously familiarized yourself with the map of the attraction.
The Alcázar Palace is the most majestic structure in the entire area. The Alcázar is not just a historical monument that carries the great secrets of the past, it is the city’s calling card and its pride. The building is a rectangular palace in four different styles – Medieval, Plateresque, Renaissance and Erresco.
The interior decoration of the palace is striking in its mix and variety of styles that reflect the complex history of the building and the different uses of the palace at different times.
The Alcázar Palace is located on the highest hill at an altitude of more than 540 m above sea level. Today, the Alcázar has a military exhibit and library, whose publications are among the national antiquities. The palace is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday. Monday is a day off.
The price of the tour is about 5 euros, and those who want to visit the upper courtyard will have to pay another 3 euros.
One of the main attractions of Toledo is the Cathedral of St. Mary. It is not just a place for tourists to visit, it is the heart of the old center, which holds many secrets of the past and embodies the great history of Medieval Spain. Legend has it that this is where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Ildephonse of Toledo, the town’s patron saint. The construction of the cathedral lasted 300 years, and was completed in 1493. The north tower of the structure reaches 90 meters and is the tallest building in town.
It is not only the facades of the temple, decorated with various sculptures and decorative moldings, that are striking when you look around the cathedral, but also the luxury of the interior decoration. Unique colored stained glass windows, majestic columns and unique chapel-capels. There are sculptures of saints and biblical paintings in relief everywhere, and the sarcophagus of the patron saint Ildephonse is supported by 6 huge lions, surrounded by 22 bas-reliefs of various saints.
The cathedral is open to visitors every day except Sundays until 18:00.
San Servando Castle
This castle is more than 1,000 years old. It is one of the oldest buildings in Spain. Erected from natural gray stone castle as if it rises from the mountain and hangs over the residential buildings gray mysterious and enigmatic boulder. The castle is part of a defensive structure and its walls offer a magnificent view of dozens of kilometers in all directions.
The central gate is of particular interest in the castle. They are made in the style of Moorish architecture with an unusual arch in the form of a horseshoe.
San Servando is located on the east bank of the Tajo River opposite the Alcázar Palace. You can reach the castle by the Alcantra Bridge from the old center or from the train station. The way from the station takes no more than 15 minutes on foot. Attendance is free. Today, the castle is home to a guest house and hosts various courses and conferences.
El Greco House Museum
The house is in the Jewish quarter and there is always a huge line to get in. This house is famous for being home to a unique gallery of works by the artist El Greco. Notable is the fact that the artist himself never lived here, and his house was once in the neighborhood, but it burned down completely in a fire. However, tourists are not very saddened by this fact, because the house is really unique.
There are magnificent interiors of the 16th century, a walk through the house just takes you back to the Middle Ages, and clean well-maintained courtyards allow you to forget that we are the people of the 21st century.
The great painter’s personal belongings and objects were used to decorate the interior, and a unique collection of his paintings were collected literally from all over the country. There are also the works of the artist’s students. The Amazing House is open Tuesday through Saturday, except for a few weekends a year. The ticket costs 3 euros, and for children it is 2 times cheaper. You can get to the museum by city bus or train.
Toledo Tourist Route
A tour of Toledo is best begun at the north gate. It is these gates that are the most grandiose. After entering the gate, you can walk a little along the Real de Arrabal street. On the way you will see an unremarkable gray building of the Mezquita Crista de la Luz mosque. This building is the only one that has survived in its original form since the reign of the Arabs. After the proclamation of Christian rule in the city, the mosque was converted into a Christian temple, which is still in operation and open to the free visit of tourists.
A little east of this place is the colorful town square. In the Middle Ages there was a brisk trade, and merchants from various settlements noisily traded their goods. Later, public executions of criminals of various ranks were held in the square. Today there is no Spanish Plaza Mayor, because the Catholic Church opposed the idea of a square surrounded by arcades.
From the central square you can walk to all the famous architectural monuments of the old center. A five-minute walk to the Museum de Santa Cruz, the Alcázar Palace, the Cathedral and the Jewish Quarter. The sightseeing can be combined with lunch at one of the local cafes. Prices here are very reasonable, and the national dishes can surprise even a sophisticated gourmet.
It is the Jewish Quarter that many tourists tend to stroll through. The Jewish community here was quite large and well respected. Walking through the narrow streets you can see the legendary Sinagoga del Transito. The building is remarkable in that behind an unassuming facade hides a magnificent rich interior, which has no analogues in the world. Today it is home to the Sephardic Museum.
If after this walk you still have time and energy, you can see other sights of Toledo, photos with names and descriptions of which can be found in any guidebook, but if enough impressions worth to go to the most fashionable and colorful places of the city, which can be bypassed in one day.
What to see in Toledo in 1 day?
In fact, in one day in Toledo you can see a lot, if not everything. The town is surprisingly small, so all the attractions are close by, literally within walking distance of each other. If you have only a day to explore the city to compose the route with all the responsibility, so as not to miss the most interesting things.
In order not to get lost in the narrow intertwined streets, which often do not even have names, it is better to get a guide or a map of the city.
Start with the old center, where in the web of narrow streets you can explore the cute and interesting courtyards. They are called patios. This tour is offered by the Toledo Patio Lovers Association, but you can also walk through the courtyards of the locals on your own.
Next, go shopping for souvenirs. In numerous small shops you can buy a sword made of Toledo steel, unique souvenir plates, products of local artisans and of course Manchego cheese. For jewelry lovers, the local jewelry shops have a lot to offer. Magnificent medieval-style rings, pendants and earrings are worthy inhabitants of any jewelry box.
If you are interested in all things otherworldly and secret, be sure to attend a performance-style tour, which tells about paranormal phenomena in the city, old legends and mysteries.
With children you can visit the pastry shop Santo Tome. Since ancient times, the famous marzipan and other great sweets have been sold here. The whole family can also take a ride on the Sokotren train, which makes a circle past the most famous sights of the town.
If that’s not enough and you still have some energy left, head along the Tahoe River. On the banks of the river there are a large number of castles, ancient walls and fortifications, which will be of interest to both children and adults. The walls of the fortifications offer magnificent views.
Be sure to visit the complex of ancient windmills not far from the city, near Campo de Criptana. It was these amazing mills that were described in the famous novel about Don Ki Hoth. Unfortunately, only 10 mills have survived to this day. Today, various museums are housed in these amazing structures.
How to get to Toledo
The town is easily accessible from the capital of Spain – Madrid. There is a city bus that leaves from the bus station every 60 minutes. Ticket prices range from 10 to 18 euros per person. You can also get to Toledo by high-speed train or cab. Such a trip would cost a little more.
It is worth noting that the local authorities have taken care that tourists can get here with special comfort. Therefore, even a trip by bus will be as quick and convenient as possible. The best time to visit Spain is considered the season from May to September, but in the winter months it is comfortable enough to travel and sightseeing.