Iglesia del Salvador

Each of the civilisations and peoples
that have passed through Toledo have left their mark on this church.

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Contact details

10:00 – 18:45 *

10:00 – 17:45 *


Open from Monday to Sunday.*

*Every 23rd day of the month, closing time: 17:30

*The ticket offices will close 10 minutes before closing time.

* 1 January and 25 December closed.

* 24 and 31 December closed, except for worship from 10 a.m. onwards


Many Toledan
are unaware of this jewel

Although it is located in one of the busiest areas of the historic centre of the city, even many Toledans are unaware of this little jewel.

All the civilisations that have occupied Toledo have left their mark on this corner of the Toledo Jewish quarter. You cannot miss this unique, enigmatic and surprising place.

Its Visigothic Pilaster is the most important attraction for visitors. La Iglesia del Salvador is one of the treasures hidden in the thousand-year-old city of Toledo.

The excavations carried out a few years ago, offer you the chance to stroll through the subsoil of Toledo and discover the many secrets it holds for you.

Iglesia del Salvador

The Building

The temple of San Salvador is one of the medieval churches with the most remains within its walls from late Roman and Visigothic buildings. From the 9th century it was a mosque, facing southeast. It preserves a bell tower over the original minaret of the mosque, the remains of a courtyard with Arab arches over a Christian cemetery and, above all, a unique pilaster from the Paleochristian or Visigothic period, with scenes from the life of Christ. In the reign of Alfonso VII (12th century) it became a church dedicated to San Salvador.

Conversion in Church: The Storm and the Queen

The historians of the city gave record of the medieval tradition that explains that around the year 1145, a tremendous storm surprised Queen Doña Berenguela of Barcelona, wife of King Alfonso VII of Castile, in the streets of Toledo and she had to take refuge in this building, which was then the main mosque. As they had prostrated there and prayed to God, and the storm ceased, the king ordered the mosque to be converted into a church under the patronage of El Salvador, specifically in the mystery of the Epiphany or Adoration of the Kings, in memory of the day of his own coronation in León. Historians also record the fact that the image of Queen Berenguela, now disappeared, was placed over the arch of the entrance door.

The Modern Age

A fire at the end of the Middle Ages forced its reconstruction. The centuries of the Modern Age brought new images of devotion while punished the building with fires, looting and confiscations. In the Baroque period, the tower was finished and the base of the tower was plastered, concealing the Visigothic remains that have now been liberated.

Vicissitudes in the 19th and 20th centuries

The 19th century began with the damage suffered by the invasion of Napoleon’s troops, who stole the silver lamps that illuminated the church, along with other valuable pieces. In 1822, it suffered a new fire that destroyed a large part of the church, leaving only the chapel of Santa Catalina unaffected. The parish was suppressed in 1842, and its liturgical objects were handed over to the ecclesiastical vicariate and to various parishes and convents in Toledo and the towns. In the 20th century, it underwent liturgical changes as a result of the Second Vatican Council, and at the same time it became the headquarters of the Brotherhoods with their processional floats. Nevertheless, worship decreased due to the decline in the number of faithful, and it became a subsidiary church of the parish of Santo Tomé.

Art in
la Iglesia del Salvador


Roman temple or Visigothic basilica?

It has not been possible to prove the existence of a building that predates the mosque, as the excavation level has not been able to delve into the Visigothic or Roman substratum. However, the large number of Visigothic reliefs forming Roman frieze and cornices embedded in the walls is extraordinary.

The original mosque

It can be considered the oldest in the city in terms of its structure and the remains preserved, and the second most important, as it became an aljama mosque after the consecration as a church of the Great Mosque on the site of the present-day Cathedral in 1085, following the conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI. The remains of the ancient arcade of horseshoe arches with a limestone keystone, characteristic of Caliphate art, together with the minaret, whose rigging resembles the first minaret of the mosque of Córdoba, reveal an early date around the first half of the 9th century.

Muslim archery

Subsequently, as attested by an inscription in the Chapel of Santa Catalina, a nave was built in the 11th century. It is thought that rather than a simple renovation, it was more of an enlargement of the space as it was converted into a main mosque. In 1950, this arcade of horseshoe arches resting on six reused Roman capitals and a Visigothic pilaster was rebuilt on the original arches at the ends.


Archaeological discoveries

The last decade of its history has been subjected to different archaeological research processes:  the excavation of the parish courtyard, the recovery of the original wall hanging of the tower, covered by the medieval and baroque reforms, the study of the interior walls and finally the archaeological excavation of the gospel and central naves, uncovering the original plan of the original mosque from the 9th century, with its surrounding enclosure containing a courtyard with a Arab cistern and its differentiated gates. The archaeological excavation also revealed the foundations and walls of the extension documented in the 11th century, which consisted of the addition of an entire nave based on the present-day horseshoe-arched arcade.

The enclosure and its accesses

On the place where the present entrance arch under the slate stairs is located, it was previously the entrance arch to the enclosure, where the remains of the doorjambs in granite ashlar masonry can still be seen. The ancient materials in this place reach a height of eight metres, as in the qibla wall, while in the aisle, five metres of the building, which may have been slightly higher, have been preserved. These parts contain the same type of masonry. Behind the entrance arch, there may have been a small courtyard area which was also accessed by a triple lateral arcade, the remains of which can be found above the side door of the church and whose capitals were probably reused in the reconstruction of the large horseshoe arch arcade in 1950. Under the Gospel nave, what appears to be a well structure with an underground and very bare parapet has appeared at the foot.

The qibla wall

The most important of the mosque, which is oriented towards Mecca, is located here to the southeast. It contains an early square mihrab located in the old Mudéjar chancel, which after the extension, was moved to the centre of the wall in the space of the present chancel.

The courtyard

It is located at the chancel of the apse, by means of an arcade, composed of three columns with Roman and Visigothic capitals, which support four horseshoe arches, in brick, framed by alfices and topped by a cornice of corbels, similar to that of the mosque of Cristo de la Luz. On the ground, on top of the earlier late Roman layer, two older structures can be seen: an almagra and an enclosing wall from the 9th-10th centuries, similar to a musalla, or element to delimit a sacred space, or an area of respect around the mosque. As a church, from 1180 it became a cemetery, in which some grave goods have been found, until the end of the 14th century when it was sealed with lime and pebbles and the arab cistern was built.

Characteristic works

The Visigothic pilaster

The Visigothic pilaster, which is considered to be early Christian by some experts, is one of the oldest pieces in which four scenes from the life of Christ are depicted. Despite the scraping of his face by the Muslims, Christ can be distinguished by his larger size and attitudes: Healing of the Blind Man, Resurrection of Lazarus, Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus healing the Bleeding Woman.

The chapel of Santa Catalina

D. Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, secretary and of the Council of the Kings, rebuilt the church after the fire of the 15th century and added new chapels, including the chapel of Santa Catalina, today owned by the Counts of Cedillo, by papal bull of Pope Alexander VI in 1496. The Infanta Juana of Castile, born near the square, was baptised in this chapel. Among the works of art that it houses, are the magnificent altarpiece and the painting of the Calvary by Correa del Vivar from Toledo, with elegant figures, soft modelling and iridescent colour, influenced by the meticulous drawing of his master Juan de Borgoña, the monumental sense of Raphael and Leonardo, the dramatism of Morales and the mannerism of Alonso Berruguete.

Other artistic works

The small altarpiece from the mid-16th century presides over the Main Chapel. It was the work of Nicolás de Vergara el Viejo and Bautista Vázquez, with scenes from the infancy of Christ and the life of the Virgin glorifying the Mother of the Saviour. In recent decades, it was in the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca. Other Baroque sculptures stand out, such as the images owned by the Brotherhood of Calvary: the 17th century Christ of Faith, also reproduced on the panel by the ceramist Aguado, and the Virgin of the Rosary, an 18th century carved image, restored in the 20th century.

Visitors' comments

Comments and opinions of visitors on the Royal College of Doncellas Nobles

EnriqueLa segunda mezquita de toledo
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“En sus restos arqueológicos encierra junto a un tesorillo que tuvo, parte de los restos de lo que fue la segunda mezquiita de Toledo. Bella y esplendorosa.”
JordiEn su pequeñez radica su grandeza
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“De los 7 monumentos que entran con la pulsera de los 10 euros, este es el que más me ha impresionado.”
NinessImprescindible visitar el subterráneo
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“Aunque no sea una de las Iglesias más famosas, las excavaciones que se están realizando merecen la pena ser visitada para entender cómo cada civilización ha ido construyendo sobre la anterior.”

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