Iglesia de El Salvador, Toledo
Church in Toledo
The Iglesia de El Salvador is a church located in Toledo, Spain, completed in 1159. Despite its small size, it is a remarkable structure due to its historical significance. The church is the result of four successive constructions, each built on top of the previous one. It originated as a 9th-century Visigothic religious building, which was later expanded into an 11th-century Taifa mosque during the Islamic rule. Eventually, the Taifa mosque was transformed into a 12th-century church during the Christian period. This layering of different religious and architectural elements adds to the exceptional nature of the Iglesia de El Salvador, making it an important site for understanding the diverse history of Toledo.
History of Iglesia de El Salvador
The Iglesia de El Salvador is situated in Toledo, near the Churches of Santo Tomé and Convento de Santa Úrsula. This church holds historical significance as it is mentioned in the famous work “Lazarillo de Tormes” and was the baptismal site of Joanna of Castile (“the Mad”) and dramatist Francisco de Rojas Zorrilla.
The current church was built atop a mosque, resulting in its orientation towards Mecca in the southeast direction. Notably, various elements from the earlier Visigothic building were repurposed, leading to the preservation of a horseshoe arcade adorned with sculpted decorations of figurative themes, an uncommon feature in such remnants. The Pilaster of El Salvador is an example of this, displaying several Visigothic miraculous scenes from Jesus’ life.
Over time, Christian modifications were made to the mosque, resulting in the current structure. In the late 15th century, the Gothic chapel of Santa Catalina was added. The church’s tower corresponds to the former minaret of the mosque, with a Baroque brick addition at the body of the bells.
Dedicated to St. Savior, the church underwent significant restoration after a fire in the 15th century. Álvarez de Toledo oversaw the restoration and added new chapels, with the chapel of Santa Catalina being particularly noteworthy. The Iglesia de El Salvador stands as a significant cultural and historical site in Toledo, reflecting its layered past and the diverse religious influences that have shaped the city over the centuries.
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