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Must Visit Attractions in Toledo

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The historical center of Toledo is a repertoire of exceptional landmarks that depict diverse architectural influences. Its charming alleys are dotted with a range of landmarks that belong to the Renaissance, Gothic, Mudejar and Arabic eras. The Toledo Cathedral, Alcazar and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz are some of the most unmissable monuments located at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite the fact that both the Romans and the Visigoths undertook the task of protecting Toledo, it was the Muslims who, after capturing the city in 711, reinforced the old city walls to adapt them to their new military function as the frontier capital of the newly created Islamic State. The old Moorish wall still stands. It's still possible to see some remains of the Visigothic wall next to the Puerta de Bisagra).

You'll find the Iglesia de San Idelfonso close to the Palacio de Lorenzana. It's also known as the "Jesuits' church" because it was built by this religious order and as "San Juan Bautista" because it used to be the parish church of St. John the Baptist. It is Baroque in style. Construction commenced in 1628 and took 90 years to complete. The best feature is the facade which is flanked by towers on two sides. In 1767, King Charles III expelled the Jesuits from Spain and they therefore had to forfeit this church although it was returned to them in 1937. At present the church only opens during services.

This palace is located in the Huerta del Rey (King's Garden) on the left bank of the Tajo river just over 1km from the old part of Toledo. This was once the site of an old Arab garden where Al-Mamun, taifa king of Toledo from 1043-1075, built his summer home. One of the palace's most interesting features is the luxuriously decorated Salon de la Noria with its enormous garden and central pond and the ornate pavilion with stained-glass windows and gold-encrusted decorative motifs. Nowadays, the palace consists of a reception area divided into three parallel naves with bedrooms at each end linked by a passageway.

This impressive 16th century gateway is undoubtedly one of the finest entrances to the ancient city. Built by Covarrubias in 1555, it more than merits the adjective "imperial". On the facade, there is a gigantic coat of arms of Castille and Leon kingdom and the two-headed eagle which represented the reign of the Spanish monarchs during the Hapsburg empire. The gateway is formed by two buildings joined by a patio and crenelated wall.

An architectural jewel of the Spanish Gothic style whose outstanding features are the cloisters and the arched galleries. The ground floor houses numerous sculptures along with some fine carved stone reliefs depicting images of animals and vegetation. The upper story has a richly decorated mudejar-style ceiling. The church's interior is a riot of decor containing delicate arches, coats-of-arms, huge eagles and a star-shaped dome. You'll find it by Puerta del Cambron gate. It was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs to commemorate Spanish victory over King Alfonso of Portugal in 1476.

The Castillo de San Servando is what remains of part of Toledo's defences and is reached by crossing the Alcántara Bridge. There were fortifications as far back as the Moslem era and probably in Visigothic times too. When Alfonso VI took the city in 1085 he built the castle on the ruins of older buildings. Two further reconstructions have taken place, one in the 12th century and again in 1380. The final rebuilding incorporated Arabic elements including a large central square and turrets. Castilla La Mancha's first regional government chamber was established here in 1983. Nowadays, the castle contains a youth hostel and is only open to members. For more information on this, please see accomodation.

Iglesia de Santiago el Mayor is situated in the city's old quarter near the Puerta de Bisagra. It is also known as the Church of Santiago del Arrabal, Arrabal meaning old town. An obvious example of Mudéjar architecture, this church was constructed in the eleventh century. The separate bell tower occupies what was formerly the minaret of the mosque which occupied the same site. The church is only open during worship, but can be visited. The pulpit was once used by the fourteenth century Dominican monk Vicente Ferrer in his harangues against the Jews in the late Middle Ages.

This building located next to Toledo Cathedral was built in 1575 when Baroque style architecture was taking over from the Renaissance style. It resembles El Escorial as its builders were the same, Juan de Herrera, Nicolas de Vergara el Mozo, Juan Bautista Monegro and Jorge Manuel Theotocopuli. It has two floors with impressive towers on each side with Madrid-style spires. Inside, there is a beautiful staircase where some of the famous poems of the Mayor, Gomez Manrique, are reproduced. The Moorish arch that gives access to the Town Hall is also worth a special mention.

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