Postcard from Toledo, Spain: A Cathedral fit for a royal capital

When Alfonso VI (1040-1109) of Castile captured Toledo from the Moors in 1085, he made the hilltop city his capital. Although royals moved their seats around Spain and Portugal, the city benefitted from the rule of numerous kings.

Construction of the city’s Gothic Cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, was begun in 1227. The main six-story central carved altar, bookended by royal tombs, was added around the year 1500.

Felipe II (1527-1598) stroke a blow signaling the city’s decline in importance when he moved the capital permanently to Madrid in 1561.

Although Toledo’s population is around 80,000, every day thousands of visitors jostle through the crowds filling the narrow streets in the historic part of the city to tour the Cathedral. Fortunately, there is ample room inside to accommodate a crowd. The main nave alone is both longer and wider than an NFL football field.

When we were in the Cathedral, most of the area near the main altar was roped off for temporary seating for an evening organ concert. Disappointing yes, but, holy Toledo, the pipes resounding through that enormous space must have been magnificent.

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