Incredibly well-preserved and full of cultural wonder, the entire city of Toledo has been declared a national monument. With 2,500 years of tangled history-Roman, Jewish, Visigothic, Moorish, and Christian, Toledo sits on a high rocky perch protected on three sides by the Tajo River.
In 1085 the city was reconquered by Christians, but many Moors remained in Toledo, tolerated and respected as scholars and craftsmen. Toledo remained Spain’s political capital until 1561, when Philip II moved to more-spacious Madrid. Toledo remained Spain’s religious capital.
Toledo is a well preserved medieval town. Look how narrow some of its streets are:
The Primacy of Toledo means that the Archbishop of Toledo is also known as Primate of Spain. This Spain’s leading Catholic city has a magnificent cathedral.
The cathedral of Toledo is one of the three 13th-century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered, in the opinion of some authorities, to be the magnum opus of the Gothic style in Spain. It was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in the 15th century.
The altar: real gold on wood!
The beautiful statue of La Virgen Blanca.
The cathedral sacristy is a combination of the Sistine Chapel and a mini-Prado with masterpieces by Francisco de Goya, Titian, Diego Velazquez, Caravaggio, Giovanni Bellini and most of all by El Greco.
You cannot talk about Christian art in Toledo without mentioning the name of its biggest artist: El Greco. He lived in Toledo from 1577 to 1614.
Born in Crete and trained in Venice, Domenikos Theotokopoulos ( called El Greco by his friends) came to Spain to get a job decorating El Escorial. He failed there, but succeeded in Toledo, where he spent the last 37 years of his life.
El Greco was essentially forgotten through the 18th and most of the 19th centuries. Then, with the Romantic movement and the discovery of Toledo by Romantic-era travelers, artists, and poets), the paintings of El Greco became the hits they are today. (Rick Steves)
There are 19 paintings by El Greco in the Sacristy.
The most important one is The Spoliation (Christ Being Stripped of His Garments):