October 3rd 2018
- 09,00 h – Meeting point at Eurobuilding Lobby Hotel
- 10,30 h – Arrival in Toledo
- 11,00 h – Cathedral
- 12,00 h – Synagogue
- 13,00 h – 15,00 h – Lunch at Cigarral de las Mercedes
- 16,00 h – El Greco Museum
- 17,00 h – 18,00 h Return to the hotel
Located about 71 km from Madrid, Toledo is known as the city of the Three Cultures, where Christians, Muslims and Jews lived side by side. It is one of the most beautiful cities among the World Heritage Sites. It is a former capital of Spain and has been declared a ‘World Heritage City’ by UNESCO.
The UNESCO’s Historic Monumental Complex lists 103 buildings considered to be of great monumental value because of their uniqueness, architecture and history; these include the Cathedral, the Alcázar de Toledo, the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, the Synagogue of El Tránsito, the Hospital del Cardenal Tavera and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, among others.
The Holy Church Cathedral is dedicated to Virgin Mary in her Ascension to Heaven. Its construction began in 1227 on the orders of the Archbishop Don Rodrigo Jiménez. It was built on the foundations of the sixth century Visigoth Cathedral, which had been used as a Mosque. Constructed in Gothic style with clear French influence, it is 120 metres in length and 60 metres wide. It comprises 5 naves supported by 88 pillars and 72 vaulted ceilings. The side nave extends behind the Great Chapel, surrounding the presbytery, and this creates an apse aisle with a double semicircular corridor. Its first architect was the Maestro Martín, of French origin, who drew up the floor plan and began construction at the front of the temple.
The side naves could not be finished until the fourteenth century, in the time of Archbishop Don Pedro Tenorio. Also in this century on the north side, the lower cloister was built, with its adjoining rooms, the most remarkable of which is the Chapel of Saint Blaise which was used as his burial site.
In the fifteenth century, the Chapel of Saint Peter was erected close to the entrance of the cloister and later, the Chapel of Saint James. A private vault was built at the head of the cloister for the Luna family and at the end of that century, in 1493, Don Pedro González de Mendoza, Archbishop and adviser to Isabelle the Catholic, sealed the final vault. This moment marks the point at which it could be said that the construction was finished.
In the sixteenth century, the altarpiece and the upper part of the choir and grilles were built. In the first half of the century, all the stained glass windows were closed in and some alterations were planned: the Chapter House, the Mozarabic Chapel under Cisneros and the Chapel of the New Monarchs under Fonseca.
The Synagogue was built on the orders of Samuel-ha-Levi Abulafia (tax collector in the court of King Pedro I of Castile), between 1355 and 1357, as a private chapel for the palace which, in a gesture of constructive grandiloquence, he had built on a large site next to the Tagus reaching to the very edge of the river.
The synagogue, designed as an oratory for the palace, with which it was directly connected, is the only structure that has survived of the palace.
Its simple single-room floor plan is similar to many chapels of Christian palaces and castles of the time, although the remarkable height of its walls makes it stand out from others because of its interior clarity of space and its unequalled clean geometric lines. It has a rich wooden coffered ceiling of larch wood with ivory inlay and painted decoration.
As in the synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the external austerity contrasts with the decorative sumptuousness inside, so linked to the feeling of “horror vacui” of Oriental peoples; that is to say, a fear of emptiness that leads them to completely cover the walls with rich and overflowing decoration.
In the Santa María del Tránsito Synagogue, the ornamental cover is of Mudejar style plasterwork executed with exceptional care. The ornamental theme sticks scrupulously to heraldry and epigraphy, and there is not a single figure of a human or an animal, following the precepts of the law of Moses. To be seen are the shields of Castile and Leon, under texts in sections which run along the frieze extolling the figures of King Pedro, of Samuel Levi, who is described as a man of war and of peace, a great builder, and of his architect, Rabbi Don Mayr, interspersed between the psalms of David and praise to Yahveh, in appreciation of the protection received.
The façade of the east wall is profusely decorated with “ataurique”, ornamental plasterwork of Arabic creation. On the south wall we can still see the gaps destined to hold the wooden beams of the gallery reserved for women, from where they followed thee liturgical acts, hidden and separated from the men by lattices.
The twists and turns of history have had this building as a church, a storehouse for military archives, a hermitage and, finally the Sefardí Museum.
The museum was built at the beginning of the 20th century, taking advantage of a prior 16th century building and a Renaissance palace to bring the scattered work of the artist together under one roof. It was the Marquis of Vega-Inclán who acquired these buildings and decorated them with furnishings and fittings from the 16th century. The Museum was inaugurated in 1912. In March 2011 the museum opened its doors to the public once more in an updated venue, with a new interpretation of its collections, where the past is respected and there is firm commitment to accuracy and truthful exhibition of the works. A visit nowadays makes references to the different ambiences of the house, although reviewed from a new perspective, hence the change of denomination – museum – to go beyond the historicist vision and to encourage an approach which will improve both the welcome visitors receive and their understanding. The museum focuses on the figure of El Greco and the influence of his work and personality in Toledo at the beginning of the 17th century. The new approach also lends deserved importance to the history of the “house” and of the museum, as well as to the figure of the Marquis of Vega-Inclán. The aim is to explain to visitors that they are not in El Greco’s real “house”, while giving greater emphasis to the figure of the Marquis of Vega-Inclán, as the one who rescued the figure of this Cretan painter, and as the founder of the museum that bears his name.
The full sense of the museum includes the Mudejar style cellars, as an indication of the past of today’s museum, and the garden, remembering the figure of the Marquis and his political and cultural standing within the context of Toledo at his time.
The name cigarrales is given to the area of grand pleasure estates located on the south bank of the River Tagus as it passes through the city of Toledo. The main building would be residential, a secondary building for the housekeepers and farm overseers (cigarraleros) who took care of the house, given that it was a second home, and most importantly and characteristically, its ample extension of land. The origin of the word cigarral is uncertain. The most frequent version is the usual presence of cicadas – cigarras – in the summer months, which was when these residences were mainly used. There are other versions that relate the origin of the word to the conjunction of two Arabic words that refer to a pleasure house.