The Puertas or Gates of Toledo!

Moving right along in my wonderful Spain, I come back to a memorable town of my beloved Spain, Toledo. Never enough of it, as have been coming here since youthful days and still family/friends nearby on the road to Madrid. 

Toledo should need no introduction to anyone, one of the jewels of the Western world and an example for todays’ societies. I rather concentrate on one particular aspect of their architecture, that is the Gates or Puertas of Toledo. This is my story from family books of old.

Puerta de Bisagra (Hinge gate) . Of Muslim origin it is formed by two bodies between which sandwiched a square of arms of Charles V . Its function was more monumental than defensive since the tower is beautifully decorated with embossed ashlars and the billiard are flush with the ground. It is known as “new” because there is another gate in the vicinity ,smaller size, called the old Gate of Bisagra or gate of Alfonso VI. Its Muslim name was Bab Al Shaqa   The external side is formed by a half point arch with cushioned ashlars, on which stands a great shield of the “Imperial City”, with its unmistakable doubleheaded Eagle. In addition to a pediment with a sculpture of a guardian angel,  flanking this entrance two large circular towers. The body that gives towards the city has another half-point arch gate, flanked by two square towers topped by pyramidal roofs. Currently is one of the emblems of the city, both for its beauty and for its access from the north of the city to The Old town.

Toledo

Puerta de Alfonso VI  or Puerta Antigua de Bisagra ( old hinge gate) one of the curiosities of this gate is that in the exterior facade has a curious horseshoe arch surrounded by alfiz and crossed by a lintel. It was built in the 9C and was the main access to the city. Its original name was Bib-Sacra , according to texts from the 12C, who’s meaning is “Puerta de la Sagra”. In addition to serving as access to the city, it was also a defensive resource and was an extension of the walled enclosure.  Architecturally speaking is a rectangular plant. On the exterior facade we see a large central arch of horseshoe framed in an alfiz and traversed by a lintel that makes it a very unique arch. For the construction of this gate  were used Visigoths remains. If you look at the top we can see Mudejar elements that were added after their original construction. We can see a defence gallery with windows to the outside and an adarve with battlements.

Puerta de Alarcones (falcons gate) One of the gates that defended access to the city in the Moorish era. This gate, unlike the previous one, is not decorated because its function was only defensive. This gate of Visigoth origin in the Islamic era was of great importance for the city. One of the best-defended accesses in Toledo was considered by the Puerta del Sol. It was considered as the gate through which the most illustrious personages visited the city. The first references we have of it are dated in 1216, calling it the Mohaguía gate. This mention is made in a Mozarabic document. Later it is known as the high gate of the blacksmith, to situate in that area the workshops of the blacksmiths.  From the 14C it loses its importance and becomes a secondary gate of access to Toledo. In this century it suffers a series of modifications. Losing its importance by rebuilding the Puerta del Sol gate. The original horseshoe arch became a half-point arch so that the carriages could be accessed. In the 17C  the upper body was reformed due to the enlargement of the Convent of Our Lady of the Assumption, owned by the nuns Bernardas Recoletas.

Toledo

Puerta de Alcántara.  Located in the area of the eastern wall is one of the most important of the military precinct. Formerly between the space between this gate and the bridge was a closed arms square that had two other side gates. It is in front of the Alcantara Bridge, which crosses the Tajo River, which in turn is protected by two fortified gates at its ends. Of Moorish origin, dating back approximately to the 10C, although important modifications were made during the Christian era. The gate constitutes an entrance in bend, typical of the Moorish military engineering, and its main span consists of a horseshoe arch located between two square towers and battlements with arches on its sides.

Toledo

Puerta de Valmardón o Bab-al-Mardum.  For quite some time this gate was walled because the Puerta del Sol was used that was much more accessible and less slope. This defensive tower was losing value over the years losing part of its structure as its two towers or the upper room. One of the gates of access to the Medina Toledo, this gate is that of Bab-Al-Mardum that it comes to mean  walled gate or condemned . It is also known as Valmardón, but we can also hear it with other names. Christ Gate of the Light(Cristo de la Luz), Balmardón, of Aquilina, Agilana, Mayordomo (Butler), of the Cross, these are some names as this door is known. This gate was built between the 9C and 10C, it is one of the oldest gates in the city. This Valmardón gate has had several uses over time. In its beginnings was the gateway to the medina of the city. The medina is, in the Muslim cities, the area of the city where the main buildings of the city were. Within this medina were the major mosque, the souk, the Alcazaba, etc… After the reconquest of the city it was to be court prison and also was execution of moors. Likewise was the residence of the Corregidor of the city, it is at that time when it was known like Gate of the Butler (Puerta del Mayordomo). Over time the height of the gate was lowered, losing the upper body, because it was no longer a defensive element of the city. The Catholic monarchs ceded the gate to Pedro Lasso de Castilla of the Mendoza family. It belonged to this family until the 18C. One of his last civil uses was as a Hospital of San Lázaro.

Toledo

 

Puerta de los Doce Cantos. It is the most modest; its function was to give way to the district of  Alficén to the bridge of Alcántara. Have pointed to that is derived from   “Twelve pipes ” in reference to the possibility that there was a source in this place with that number of mouths.  It is located in the eastern part of the walled enclosure, in a defensive complex that would correspond to the crouches of the Alficén that protected the primitive citadel Alcazar around the Moorish period. To its small dimensions, it caused that the adjacent wall was demolished in the 18C to open the current ascent to the Calle Cervantes, leaving the gate of twelve chants (Doce Cantos)  relegated to ostracism, walled loads of rubble. It ran from this point of the Gate of Doce Cantos the new way round, that surrounded the city from there to the convent of Gilitos (then prison), which constituted a landmark for the communications of the city and that was the antecedent of the current round corneas, executed towards 1983. An Islamic gate built in the 10C that, has come to our days very deteriorated.

Puerta de Cambrón. Its curious name comes from the Cambroneras, thorny shrubs that grew in that place. It is a gate of Moorish origin that has undergone many changes over the years. A Gate of the Cambron, also known as Gate of the Jews and the gate of Santa Leocadia. The gate is of square floor with a central courtyard, its current aspect is due to the reconstruction carried out between the years 1572 and 1577. In a Renaissance style, it has two facades. The exterior façade faces the Vega del Tajo. On this façade we can see in the central body the balconies of the House of the warden of the gate. It is topped by two towers covered with spires of slate. We can also see the municipal shield of Toledo from the time of king Felipe II  and two seated Goths kings. In the interior facade we can see the Royal Shield of King Felipe II and below an image of Santa Leocadia, patron of the city.  We can also see two towers as well as on the exterior façade. A rectangular-shaped central patio is where people, carriages and others who wanted to access the city from this gate passed. This is where the “Portazgo” of access was charged, tax exempt to the residents of Toledo and its mountains and its jurisdiction, as a plaque in this courtyard reads. It is the only historic gate of Toledo by which you can pass by vehicle inside it.

Puerta del Sol. Its name is due to a relief with the emblem of the Cathedral under a moon and the sun. It is of Moorish origin but has undergone several modifications over the years. It is a gate of Islamic origin in which we can find Roman remains, although the general aspect of Mudejar style is due to a reform ordered in the 14C by Cardinal Pedro Tenorio. This reform was the result of a civil conflict that occurred in Toledo because of the struggle that was caused by the succession of John I of Castile. The name of Puerta del Sol was not his original name. Calling it Gate of the blacksmith or the low gate of the blacksmith, in 1575. The city Corregidor, tried to change the name to Puerta de San Ildefonso. This attempt to change the name is due to the replacement of an old crucifix by the medallion, which we can now contemplate, which depicts the miracle of the imposition of the chasuble of St. Ildelfonso by the Virgin Mary. But this attempt at change did not went well with the residents for what it followed with its name.

It was not until 1752 where it appears in the cadastre of Ensenada as Torre del Sol (sun tower). This name is given by a representation of some stars that appears in the medallion that we mentioned before. From that moment the name is popularised and it stays as the Puerta del Sol or Sun’s gate. The gate went from being an indispensable access to the city, but after the time and with the extension of the street parallel to this entrance, building a wall in 1785 and demarcating the ascent to the square of Zocodover. At this moment it becomes an ornamental door rather than passing through or access. It’s Mudejar style. It’s built on a stone base of ashlars and masonry. The entrance arch is a horseshoe that is embraced by a pointed horseshoe top arch. Both the battlements and the frieze are built in brick. In the frieze we can see interwoven blind arches, like lobed arches, typical of the Mudejar style of Toledo. These bows are decorative. We will also see in the battlements these types of decorative arcs. In the middle of the first row of blind arches we find the remains of a Roman sarcophagus. We also found in the center of the horseshoe arch pointed a medallion. We also see the representation of the Moon and the sun, giving this the name to the gate. The sarcophagus would tell us about the “Legend of beautiful children”, is a representation of the Roman period . The other legend or miracle is the representation that we have already commented that there is in the medallion. That miracle or legend will tell you when we talk about the Chapel of the Ascension of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Toledo.

Toledo

There you go hope it helps you understand a bit more the wonders of Toledo, the city of the world. Castilla La Mancha region of the kingdom of Spain.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are!

Tourist office of Spain on Toledo: Spain on Toledo

Tourist office of Toledo; Tourist office of Toledo

UNESCO on Toledo: Toledo by UNESCO

Tourist info in Spanish from city of Toledo: City of Toledo on tourism

Region of Castilla La Mancha on Toledo: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha

Wines of Toledo : Wines of Toledo and Castilla La Mancha

Toledo

There you go, you are all set to go, just lets your fingers do the walking and pack. Toledo awaits you, the world is welcome.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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2 Comments to “The Puertas or Gates of Toledo!”

  1. I did enjoy my visits to Toledo but it will never be my favourite in Spain. I doubt that I shall go there again!


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