Don’t judge this book by its cover! Once you get inside Toledo’s Gothic cathedral, you’ll be blown away by the opulence, artistry, and vibrant colors. There’s so much to see, you might struggle with where to begin. We’ve got you covered! Our local expert shares the top things to see at Toledo Cathedral so you won’t miss a thing.
Best Things To See at Toledo Cathedral
If you visit Toledo, you cannot miss the cathedral. It is particularly important because it holds a lot of Spanish history and culture inside it, including gold from the early American shipments! As one of the larger cathedral complexes in Spain, however, it can be a little difficult to navigate.
In this article, we’ll guide you through what to see at the Toledo cathedral and explain a little about why each area is important. That way, you can really appreciate the significance of this cathedral’s place in Spanish history while you’re actually there! Prefer to see Toledo with an expert guide? Check out our awesome Toledo day trips from Madrid.
Not ready to book a tour yet? Explore our Madrid Guide.
10. Monstrance of Enrique de Arfe
Master craftsman Enrique de Arfe made this impressive piece of metalwork at the beginning of the 16th century. Legend has it that he made it with the very first gold brought to Spain from the Americas. Either way, look at how incredibly intricate that is! It’s mesmerizing in person.
Apart from its historical and artistic value, this piece is very important from a religious perspective. Since the 16th century, it has become a key part of the Corpus Christi parade which is part of Toledo’s oldest and most iconic festival. It usually happens in June if you want to try to be there to watch this time-honored tradition.
This is where you’ll find the monstrance above. The treasury is just underneath the tower and only became the treasury at the beginning of the 20th century. There are several cases here containing important treasures from Toledo and its cathedral but also Europe in general.
In the treasury, you’ll see the Bible of San Luis, gifted to Alfonso X in the 13th century. It contains many miniatures in golden leaf panels and is quite a sight to behold. Still, I think the most important treasure in this room is the gold monstrance.
8. St. Blas Chapel
Originally built for the burial of Archbishop Pedro Tenorio from Toledo, this chapel is from the 14th century. Look up and enjoy the beautiful mural paintings. They’ve recently been restored after humidity damaged the original artwork.
All the depictions are of scenes from the bible and the artists who worked in this chapel display influences from the Italian art of the time. It’s a beautiful chapel!
If you love art, you cannot miss the Chapterhouse! Cardinal Cisneros commissioned this impressive room in the 16th century. From the ceiling to the floor and everywhere you look, it is ornate.
The patterned golden ceiling follows Gothic aesthetics. The walls are decorated with paintings representing the life of the Virgin, the passion of Christ, and the first 32 archbishops of Toledo. This is definitely one of the most beautiful spaces you’ll see at Toledo Cathedral!
Giving the Chapterhouse a run for its money, the Sacristy features a beautiful ceiling fresco. This painting by Lucas Jordan dates from the 16th century and represents the Descension of the Virgin Mary.
Don’t leave just yet! Take a look around, this beautiful room contains other artworks worth exploring. Here, you can also see original works by artists such as El Greco, Caravaggio, Titian, and Goya!
Not ready to book a tour? Find out how to see Toledo in a day.
5. St. Ildefonso Chapel
This is one of the oldest chapels in the cathedral. In fact, it has been dedicated to St. Ildefonso since the 1200s. However, the importance of this chapel doesn’t lie as much in its artistic layout as it does in the burials.
Here, you’ll see the burials of an important noble family, the house of Albornoz. Also in this chapel are the burials of cardinals and bishops connected to the construction of the cathedral.
4. Mozarabic Chapel
Also known as the Corpus Christi Chapel, this is perhaps one of the most famous and most important chapels in the cathedral. The purpose of this room is to hold the rites and celebrations for Corpus Christi.
These Corpus Christi celebrations are among the most important in the Catholic church, aside from the dates relating to Christmas and Easter. Due to the history of Spain during the Middle Ages and the conquest of the country by Muslim forces in 711, Toledo was seen as the last bastion where people could celebrate and honour the Corpus.
For that reason, this chapel is extra special. Also, the rites performed in this chapel still follow the Visigothic Mozarab tradition of medieval Spain. It is also famous for the 17th-century cupola, which you can see clearly from the outside of the cathedral (pictured above, far right). This is a must-see at Toledo Cathedral, so don’t miss it.
3. Chapel of the New Monarchs
Once known as the Royal Chapel, this part of the cathedral is famous for the burials of the Trastámara dynasty of Spain. The Trastámara ruled both Castile and Aragon during the Middle Ages, and their lineage continues all the way to queen Isabel I.
The chapel dates from the 16th century and its construction was approved under the reign of Charles V. The majority of the burials are from the 14th and 15th centuries. The rest of the decorative features are from the 17th through to the 19th century, including the organs.
The choir of Toledo Cathedral is arguably one of the most beautiful in Europe. It dates from the late Middle Ages and is presided over by an image of the Virgin Mary called the White Virgin. Created in a French workshop, this piece of art is supposed to represent Mary full of sweetness and joy.
The lower choir is still original, while the upper choir was replaced in the 16th century. There are two huge organs on either side of the choir. Finally, don’t miss the sculpture group representing the transfiguration of Christ by the Spanish master Berruguete.
1. Capilla Mayor (Main Chapel)
There are many reasons why you’ll be blown away by the Capilla Mayor. Perhaps the most obvious is the beautiful altarpiece from the late Middle Ages to the early Renaissance. Influenced by the Flemish artists, you’ll notice not just an abundance of figures and characters, but also lots of filigree details. This makes it a very striking image.
Even the fencing enclosing the chapel is considered a piece of art. It’s one of the best metal works of the Spanish Renaissance. It took 10 years to create and it really brings the whole complex together.
Also, don’t miss another chapel inside the Capilla Mayor, the chapel of the Sepulchre. It is a little crypt and easy to miss so keep an eye out for its entrance inside the presbytery. Finally, make sure to stop by the burial of Cardinal Mendoza in the Capilla Mayor. It’s the very first burial art form of the Spanish Renaissance.
Not ready to book a tour? Find out how to visit the Toledo Cathedral.