A robust Gothic construction which took over 250 years (13th-15th century) to complete, its rich internal decoration includes masterpieces of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The cathedral, ranked as one of the finest in the world behind St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican, Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Paul's in London, was constructed in the tradition of the cathedrals and churches of France.
The Cathedral has five naves and several chapels. The most famous are: the Main Chapel, The Santiago Chapel, The Mozarabic Chapel and the Santiago Chapel. At the heart of the church is the Coro, with two tiers of intricately carved wooden stalls. Directly opposite stands the gigantic Gothic altar piece. Directly behind the main altar is perhaps the most extraordinary art treasure in the cathedral, the Transparente, a wonderfully Baroque wall of marble and alabaster sculpture, high rising cherubs, alabaster Last Supper and a Virgin in ascension. The wall was overlooked for years because the cathedral was too poorly lit until Sculptor Narcisco Tomé cut a hole in the ceiling to let the light in.
For 500 ptas, you can visit the Treasure Room with its 500-pound gilded monstrance, allegedly made with gold brought back from the New World by Columbus. Other highlights of the cathedral include El Greco's Twelve Apostles and Spoliation of Christ and Goya's Arrest of Christ on the Mount of Olives.
This is one of the most impressive Cathedrals we have seen--especially in terms of the quality of its art. The great "Greco" collection makes this Cathedral a true Museum. And, best of all, this is not a dead temple but a working church. Everyday a mass is said and there are several on Sundays.
The most frustrating things we encountered during our visit to this beautiful structure were that pictures are forbidden inside the cathedral and the streets of Toledo are too narrow for pictures that would really do justice to the grandeur of the building.
Results 1-10of 12 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
March 10, 2011
From journal Madrid and Its Surroundings
by Sammy Lagios
Kineta, Attica, Greece
August 31, 2010
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
March 20, 2008
From journal Unique Toledo
Metro Manila, Philippines
September 6, 2006
From journal Toledo: Part 1 of Our Three-Day Tour of Southern Spain
Broadbeach Waters, Australia
August 14, 2006
At €6 you may give the cost some serious thought but it is worth every cent.
Just a few of the highlights are the Choir (Coro), Capilla Mayor, the Transparente sculpture, the fresco of St Christopher and the Treasury (Tesoro) which boasts a solid silver and gilt repository for the Eucharist wafers that stands more than 10 feet high and weighs over 200 kilos.
The Choir (Coro) has to be seen to be believed. Two levels with seventy seats in the back and fifty in the front row each with a carved marble column on each side. The bases are all intricately carved out of wood and each depicting a village taken by the Christians and the upper sections out of white and brown marble. There is an eagle looking down over the Coro and topped by a large statue of Christ on one side and a huge organ on the other with a statue at the front of the Virgin Mary from the 12th century. At the Bishops seat there is a huge altar that stretches to the ceiling about eight levels high and it is totally covered in gold and murals. There is a grille fencing it off and at the top there is a statue of Jesus being crucified on the cross. The ceiling is very ornate with large grey blue tiles.
Behind the Coro is the Transparente sculpture, three dimensional carvings of Cherubs and other saintly beings reaching skyward. It is made even more amazing due to the skylight that allows the natural sunlight to stream through & pick up the beautiful colours.
If you walk around the Coro and the nave of the church and view it from a different angle and it takes your breath away all over again. Incredible.
There is also the Sacristy holding many paintings by Raphael, Goya and most importantly El Greco.
You definitely won't miss the fresco of St Christopher, it is huge.
There are also many other chapels and a museum containing all the elaborate vestments of past Cardinals.
In the courtyard tucked away there is even an old rough hewn wooden cart that must be hundreds of years old.
The list is just endless. You need to allow a couple of hours to see it thoroughly.
Photos are actually forbidden but we had been inside for some time before realising this was the case. After a reprimand we then had a very stern guard shadowing our every move.
From journal Magical, Medieval Toledo
by UK Flower Girl
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
April 15, 2004
This being my first trip to Spain and my first church on the visit, I was quite impressed and hoped that other cathedrals/churches in Spain would be as grand. I could complain about the €5.50 entrance fee and no pictures allowed, but I won’t. I understand why some churches have these policies and some don’t. I would just rather make my own donation inside the church and be allowed to take some digital memories rather than purchasing their guidebook. The fee covers entrance to the Capillas, sacristy and treasury.
The present cathedral is built on the site of a 7th-century church. Work began in 1226 and the last vaults were finally completed in 1493. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Christendom. You will see a mix of styles that reflects this long building period. Most guidebooks will tell you the same thing: visit the High Altar Reredos, the choir, paintings by famous artists, and the Transparente, a Baroque altarpiece.
The High Altar Reredos has to be the most beautiful part of the cathedral. It is polychrome and depicts scenes from Christ’s life. Its gilded detail will have you sitting there in awe. It is floor to ceiling and is immaculately detailed. The choir was another intricately detailed part of the cathedral. Its wooden carvings show detail of the fall of Granada and above those are alabaster figures from the Old Testament. In the Treasury you will find people crowded around the Monstrance, a 16th-century gold and silver treasure that is carried through the streets of Toledo during Corpus Christi celebrations at the end of May.
From journal Semana Santa en España Part 1: Toledo and Córdoba
Todmorden, England, United Kingdom
June 24, 2002
However, to say that it is gothic is a simplification. The exterior is gothic but the interior has some Baroque work as well, and the sculpture behind the high altar has a special aperture built into the roof to allow the light to get to it.
I will be honest. I absolutely detest this baroque sculpture. I find it inexplicable that a cathedral which has so much that I believe to be really outstanding should ever have wanted to put this so close to it - but I supppose it is in the nature of great art to arouse strong emotions which are not necessarily favourable in all cases. I heard people raving with enthusiasm over it.
I can now relax and come to what I found wonderful - and wonderful is the word for it. First comes the Choir. To go in the Choir, the Sacristy and the Treasury requires a ticket which can be bought at a shop opposite the main entrance. It is very worthwhile and I regard it as a must. The choir is the centre for some amazing stone and wood carving, representing much of the Old Testament and certainly as good as any I have seen anywhere.
Then there are the paintings in the Sacristy, not only el Greco but Velasquez, Goya, Rubens and others; a valuable collection and a major artistic experience.
Lastly, there is the Treasury. I am far from an expert in these areas, and in particular am about as interested in church vestments as I am in household dust, but the vestments here are terrific works of art and can be appreciated as such, as well as the kinds of metal treasure one would expect.
Surprisingly, considering its great size, the cathedral building does not have transepts of the kind one expects but does have what in effect are five parallel naves.
From journal Toledo - bang up to expectations.
October 9, 2001
From journal Madrid, the city that never sleeps
North Palm Beach, Florida
January 6, 2001
From journal Winding down in Toledo