Alcázar of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain

The Alcázar of Toledo is a stone fortification located in the highest part of Toledo, Spain. Once used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century, it was restored under Alfonso VI and Alfonso X and renovated in 1535

During the Spanish Civil War, Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte held the building against overwhelming Spanish Republican forces in the Siege of the Alcázar. The incident became a central piece of Spanish Nationalist lore, especially the story of Moscardó’s son Luis. The Republicans took 16-year old Luis hostage, and demanded that the Alcázar be surrendered or they would kill him. Luis told his father, “Surrender or they will shoot me.” His father replied, “Then commend your soul to God, shout ‘Viva Cristo Rey’ and die like a hero.” Moscardó refused to surrender. Contemporary reports indicated that the republicans then murdered Moscardó’s son. Other historians have reported that Luis was not in fact shot until a month later “in reprisal for an air raid”. The dramatic story also camouflages the fact that the fate of a number of male hostages, mainly from the Guardia Civil, taken into the Alcázar at the beginning of the siege is unclear. Some sources say the men “were never heard of again”. However at least one journalist who visited the Alcázar in the immediate aftermath of its liberation saw a number of prisoners chained to a railing in a cellar. The events of the Spanish Civil War at the Alcázar made the structure a symbol for Spanish Nationalism and inspired the naming of El Alcázar, a far-right newspaper that began during the civil war and ended during the Spanish transition to democracy as the mouthpiece for Búnker, a faction of francoists who opposed reform after Francisco Franco’s death. By the end of the siege, the building had been severely damaged. After the war, it was rebuilt and now houses the Castilla-La Mancha Regional Library (“Biblioteca Autonómica”) and the Museum of the Army (“Museo del Ejército”), the latter having previously been housed in the Salón de Reinos in Madrid to the Alcázar.

Cathedral of Toledo

The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo Spanish: Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Toledo, Spain, seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Toledo.

The cathedral of Toledo is one of the three XIII century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered to be the pinnacle of the Gothic style in Spain. It was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in XV century when, in 1493, the vaults of the central nave were finished, during the times of the Catholic Monarchs.

It was modeled after Bourges Cathedral, although its five naves plan is the consequence of the constructors’ intention to cover all of the sacred space of the former city mosque with the cathedral, and of the former sahn with the cloister. It also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style, mainly in the cloister, and with the presence of multifoiled arches in the triforium. The spectacular incorporation of light and the structural achievements of the ambulatory vaults are some of its more remarkable aspects. It is built with white stone from Olihuelas, close to Toledo.

It is popularly known as Dives Toletana (meaning Toledan tycoon).

The Great Monstrance of Arfe

The most important object kept in the Chapel of the Treasure is the great Monstrance of Arfe also known as La Gran Ostensoria de Toledo. Made of the finest silver, gold and bejeweled with gems, it measures nine feet tall. This monstrance is famous for being used in the annual feast of Corpus Christi of Toledo. The sculptor and maker of this monstrance, Enrique de Arfe was originally from Flanders and Germany. Arfe labored on it from 1517–1524, on commission to Cardinal Cisneros. It is of archaic Gothic design. Initially made of silver by 16th century, Archbishop Quiroga commissioned that it be plated in gold, to match the gold plated wood of the monstrance of the altar. It is encased under bulletproof glass and heavily guarded by automatic security system within the cathedral grounds of Toledo. In the Middle Ages, Cardinal Cisneros wanted to compete for a grander monstrance than Isabella the Catholic to show it off in the procession of the Corpus Christi of Toledo which at the time was the most important feast in the Kingdom of Castile. The monstrance took seven years to create and its cost surpassed 15 million maravedís, which Arce received, including the stipulated 2,700 reales, a bonus of 2,500 maravedís that the cathedral’s chapter presented to him on Christmas of 1523, having been impressed by his work. The monstrance has a hexagonal ground base. It rises with small columns which are exquisitely made, with adornments of gems and varied figurines of angels, saints, fleurons, small bells and clappers. The work encloses in the last section where a cross of XVI century is located. The pedestal on which it sits is Baroque style of the 18th century. Since 1595, it has been customary to carry out this monstrance in the procession of the Corpus Christi, on a float made for this purpose with an adjustable leveling which is mechanically activated. In the procession, ahead of the monstrance the political and ecclesiastical authorities and behind are the cadets of the Infantry Academy. The monstrance is built with the help of 12,500 bolts which secure it, 5,600 diverse pieces and 260 figurines. 183 kilograms of pure silver and 18 kilograms of 18 karat gold were used.

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