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“El Salvador” Church – Toledo

Upon exiting the “Santo Tomé” Church, we walk up the “Travesía del Conde” reaching the “Santo Tomé” street and further along we came across the Plaza and Church of “El Salvador”. This spot has been a holy place for various cultures were multiple temples have been built. The Romans, the Visigoths, the Muslims and the Christians. During the reign of “Alfonso VII” (12th century) it becomes a church dedicated to “San Salvador”.

The “El Salvador” Church of Toledo, Spain, was a mosque in the times of the Muslim presence. Some scholars date the mosque to the year 1041, perhaps earlier. The current church faces the southeast, in the direction of  the Mecca.

In the construction of the temple, different Visigoth, Roman and Muslim architectural elements were reused. For example, in the archery that separates the central nave from the nave of the epistle, the primitive structure of the mosque was used. This archway is made up of seven horseshoe arches embedded in whitewashed and resting on six Roman columns and one Visigoth pillar with sculpted decoration of figurative themes. Among the scenes, several miracles of Christ are distinguished, such as the resurrection of Lazarus, the healing of the sick, the episode of the Samaritan woman and the healing of the blind man.

Although it retained the shape of the minaret, with inlaid ornamental borders, the conversion to Christianity in 1159 forced the undergoing of  various modifications, especially the construction at the end of the 15th century of the Gothic chapel of Santa Catalina. The minaret, was turned into a tower, a brick belfry was later added.

Recent excavations have disclosed areas which only now can be visited underground. One can observe the architectural details of the cultures that rendered their worship therein.

The church dedicated to San Salvador, suffered damages during fires in the fifteenth century and then in the nineteenth, with only the chapel of Santa Catalina surviving.

It is worth noting that during the reign and stay in Toledo of the Catholic Monarchs, Princess Juana I of Castile (the Mad One) was baptized in this church. In addition, it is one of the churches named in the “Lazarillo de Tormes” legend.

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