plan your visit
Cristo de la Luz, 22. Toledo
(+34) 925 254 191
Tickets and bracelets are sold at the monument ticket office.
Open from monday to sunday.*
MARCH 1 TO OCTOBER 15
10:00 - 18:45 **
OCTOBER 16 TO FEBRUARY 28
10:00 - 17:45 **
General: 2’80 €
Reduced: 2’40 € *
Free: 0 € **
TOURIST BRACELET: 9€
ACCESS TO THE 7 MONUMENTS
* January 1 and December 25 closed.
December 24 and 31 closed at 13:00.
** The ticket window closes 20 min. before
* Accredited groups. +20 people groups.
** Under the age of 11. Accredited religious. Residents in Toledo.
MOSQUE CHRIST OF THE LIGHT VISITORS OPINION
“An Incredible Jewel”
This little mosque is, despite its diminutive size, one of the must see attractions of Toledo. I find it absolutely astonishing to read some of the negative reviews on this site. What on earth do people expect to find when visiting a mosque over 1,000 years old? Please try to understand that not every mosque should look like the Mezquita.
“The Best Small Gem in Toledo”
This site is not as popular as the others, but that means it isn't crowded with bus loads of tourists either. It has been recently restored and the interior is well illuminated and it has a modern visitor center and charming garden overlooking one of the town wall gates.
“Tiny and special”
This is worth seeking out in your jaunt around Toledo. The remarkably small room is expericenced vertically, look up. While we were there, restorers were working on the christian addition to the mosque, which is remarkable as well. Archeologists will love the find, including its glimpse into the sewer system also uncovered at the site.
THE CALIFAL MOSQUE FROM THE X CENTURY
Bab al Mardum Mosque
The mosque is situated next to one of the wall gates and it is one of the most important monuments of Spanish-Moorish and Mudejar architecture in Spain. Just like a small gem, this priceless thousand-year-old building is a unique example of the survival of Al-Andalus art: a mosque or small oratory built in the Caliphate period. Two centuries later it was transformed into a church and an apse was added, following the style of the old building, which lead to Mudejar art, a perfect combination and symbiosis.
A magnificent commission
The inscription, discovered in 1899, showed that the building was built in 999 AD and that it was linked to the prestigious Banū l-Hadīdī family:
‘Basmala. Ahmad ibn Hadidi ordered the construction of this mosque, paid with his own private wealth, to gain Allah’s reward after death. It was finished, with Allah’s help, with Musa ibn Ali as the architect, and Sa'ada too, in Muharraq in the year three hundred and ninety'. (Foundation inscription, 13 December 999 / 11 January 1000 AD).
However, we do not know if the mosque was ever the family’s private residence or if it was built as a devout gift for the whole town.
It was built in an important district where palaces belonging to important people have been discovered, because it is very near to the Alcazaba, called Al Hizam or Ceñidor, next to one of the main entrances to the town and opposite to one of the gates. The original building was outstanding because it was so magnificent. This was because it was freestanding and it rose above street level, with a little square on the north side and some steps to enter.
School or mausoleum?
It is very possible that this mosque, as other Fatimi mosques in northern Egypt with a similar plan, was used a school, or madrasa, because the space is perfect for halgas, students gathering round the teacher. Scholars also say the building could have had funeral purposes and could have been used as a mausoleum.
The history of its names
The mosque was called the Arabic name ‘Bab al-Mardum’ because it was near the gate with the same name. This is what it was called when King Alfonso VI conquered Toledo (1085). A century later it was owned by the knights of the Order of St John and was called Santa Cruz Chapel. However, its most common name is Cristo de la Luz. There are different stories that explain its name but no documents to support them. They belong to the Christian Reconquest tradition and the only testimony of the different stories is an image called Christ of Light, which is currently kept in Santa Cruz Museum, and also an image of Our Lady of Light, now disappeared.
CHRIST OF LIGHT
White stone indicating the exact location of the legend.
of Christ of Light
The legend refers to the Cid’s horse. It says that when King Alfonso IV entered Toledo in triumph after the Reconquest, the horse kneeled down before the mosque and refused to move, as an act of worship to the Christ that was behind a partition wall, lit up by a lamp, which had been kept hidden under Moorish rule. A small white stone, embedded in the road, marks the exact location of this amazing event.
THE SANTA CRUZ CHURCH FROM THE XII CENTURY
Turning it into a Christian church
A document from 1183, included in the Book of Privileges of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, tells us that Domingo Pérez and his wife Juliana donated the house of Santa Cruz, ‘which used to be a mosque belonging to the Moors, next Beni Abardom gate’, to this military order for them to turn it into their chapel and oratory. It is strange that the building became private after the Reconquest and not a property of the bishopric, like the rest of Islamic buildings. Maybe it had been a private property since al-Ma`mūm was murdered, when the Banū l-Hadīdī family fell from grace and their possessions were seized.
Three years later, the archbishop Gonzalo consecrated this place and it was called Santa Cruz Church, belonging to the Hospital Brothers. Its unusual architectural structure made it difficult to be adapted to be used as a parish church, so in the end it was turned into a private chapel when an apse was added on the east side. In the seventeenth century the church was still called ‘de la Cruz’ in the ‘Plan and View of Toledo’ by El Greco.
Discovering its identity
Travellers in the nineteenth century started to rediscover this building, which had been covered by constructions around it, wall facing and other elements. North American writers and French artists told the world about this mosque. Amador de los Ríos and Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer tried to get rid of the legends and change the idea of lack of understanding, saying that the architecture of the building proved that there was a peaceful coexistence between the Muslim building and the Christian apse. The story about the restoration of the building is full of difficulties and neglect. The story is hard and it extends in time until well into the twentieth century. The discovery of the mural paintings in 1871 and the foundation inscription on the bricks in 1889 created euphoria among critics, and learned and curious people started visiting it. Since then, the beauty of its lines and shapes, its delightful design with arches and vaults, and the discovery of complicated and numerous combinations of lines within its simple form, have not ceased to amaze everyone who has come to discover this mysterious corner of Toledo's artistic heritage.
A miniature copy of the Mosque of Córdoba
The construction and decoration of this mosque – vaults, camber arches, voussoirs, ogees with a cruciform plan, etc. – are clearly inspired by the Mosque of Córdoba, especially the extension of the prayer room, commissioned by Caliph Al-Hakam II only thirty years before. The vaults are partial or total reproductions of the vaulted ceilings in the capital of Al-Andalus. However, the Mosque of Córdoba was made in stone and the walls in this one are built with bricks and lime mortar, the façades with masonry and rows of bricks and the quibla wall to the southeast, and the southwest wall reuses ashlar masonry.
The plant schema in T
The plan is small and practically square and measures about 8 square metres, distributed around four columns in three parallel naves, with another three naves across. The space is divided into nine squares, covered with completely different vaults. The columns were reused, they do not have a base, three of them have rough-cut Visigothic capitals and the fourth one was rebuilt after the restoration in 1909, as the inscription says. Above the columns, crossed ogees make horseshoe arches in all directions. Another section has walls with open spaces, which fit around the axes of the building: a longitudinal axis in the central nave and another axis that crosses the nave, parallel to the quibla wall, which is on the southeast wall.
Professor Ewert has carried out studies that show that it is a T-plan building, where the central nave and the last of the naves that go across, before the maqsura, are the richest and the best decorated, designed exclusively with cusped arches. The intention is clear: to reinforce these spaces with architecture in order to guide the faithful to the quibla wall, therefore towards the Mecca.
Façades with bricks
The façade of the Calle del Cristo de la Luz, where the inscription is, is formed by three arches: the arch in the centre is semicircular, the one on the left is a five-cusped arch and the one on the right is an extended horseshoe arch. According to the archeologists in origin, they were never doors but windows of the lateral front.
The section above has crossed blind horseshoe arches and above them there is a strip of bricks that form diamond fretwork, framed by vertically-laid bricks, which provide the base for the Kufic script.
The old main façade now has three extended horseshoe arches to the northwest, protected by three semicircular arches, framed by lines of bricks, which refer to the endless double and multiple arches in the Mosque of Córdoba. The third section has blind semicircular arches under trefoil arches, crowned by a strip of vertically-laid bricks.
CHRIST OF LIGHT
CHRIST OF LIGHT
Detail of the façade
The presbytery is decorated with fresco paintings that are currently in a bad condition. Following Romanesque iconography, the Pantokrator or Christ in Majesty surrounded by the Tetramorph, the four symbols of the Evangelists is depicted on the vault. On the side walls there are images of female saints and a male figure with solemn attire. People have liked to think that this figure is the archbishop or the clergyman who commissioned the work. You can still see a scene of angels taking the soul of a deceased, represented by a girl. It is a more recent painting, nearer to the Gothic world of the fourteenth century.
CHRIST OF LIGHT
A place with many archaeological remains
Surprising discoveries were made in the excavation in 2006. A 5-metre wide Roman road with large granite flagstones was discovered in the north terrace of the mosque gardens. The road ran from north to south and underneath there was a sewer that went to the already known Valmardón sewer, which is under the gate with the same name. It has been verified that the site used to be a rock quarry in Toletum, in Roman times. It was possibly used for the construction of the nearby Roman wall. Near this wall, a circular tower under the Puerta del Sol has been preserved.
A cave under the main altar
Under the current medieval apse, with 60-centimetre thick walls, another larger apse has been discovered. It is 1.60 metres thick and its axis is also goes east-west, although it is slightly in a different position compared to the current building. It belonged to a monumental building, made with stones and lime, built in Roman or Visigothic times, because it was perpendicular to the axis of the road and it marks the beginning of this road towards the town. Though also it can be the foundation of the current apse. The most surprising thing is that inside this apse a small dug-out cave has been discovered. An unusual place, made maybe because there was a need for a space to worship, pray or for other devotions, or a hermit might have retired there. The archeologists at present prefer the only hypothesis of the Roman quarry.
The tower that disappeared
There used to be a tower that was partially joined to the apse. The 5 x 5 metre plan is preserved in the subsoil and it is similar to the other towers in the town that appear in historical documents. The size of the tower tells us that this church was very important.
Excavations have discovered wall foundations attached to the north façade that could have belonged to various chapels where it is certain that different people were buried.
The Christian cemetery
A Christian cemetery that covers 300 metres has been discovered in the north section. There are many single graves or graves marked with bricks, in shape of a human. The cemetery was used between the twelfth and the fifteenth century. Under the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, at the end of the fifteenth century, they start to bury people inside the church. Only a few privileged people were buried there, although it was used all the time the nineteenth century.
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