The city's general aspect has changed little since El Greco painted his famous View of Toledo. Its chief landmark, the alcázar (fortified palace), was originally a Moorish structure, restored in the 13th cent. and transformed (1535, 1576) to serve as residence for Charles V and Philip II. It was largely destroyed (1936) in the Spanish civil war, when the Nationalists, with their women and children, shut themselves up inside and withstood a Loyalist siege for two months, until relieved by Franco's forces. After the war the fortress was again restored.
Toledo is surrounded by partly Moorish, partly Gothic walls and gates. Of Moorish origin also is the Alcántara bridge. The Gothic cathedral, begun in 1226, is one of the finest in Spain and houses El Greco's Espolio and other paintings by him in its lovely baroque chapels. Among the other many famous buildings are the Church of Santo Tomé, with El Greco's Burial of the Conde de Orgaz; the Church of Santa María la Blanca (12th–13th cent.; formerly a synagogue); the Convent of San Juan de los Reyes (15th cent.), with five Gothic cloisters; the Hospital of San Juan Bautista (15th–16th cent.), which has some paintings by El Greco; the former Tránsito synagogue, in Mudéjar style; and the Greco Museum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.