10 things you didn´t know about Plaza de Zocodover

1. It has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times throughout its history.

Plaza de Zocodover – Seige of the Alcazar 1936 (Toledo Spain)

Fire has destroyed Plaza de Zocodover multiple times in its history.

Destructive fires occured in 1585, 1589, and 1641.

The most recent and unfortunate fire and destruction occurred during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1936 much of the plaza was damaged and destroyed (only the Arco de la Sangre remained standing) due to the bombardment and the subsequent fires caused by the Siege of the Alcazar

2. Shows and events of all kinds have been held here

3. Public urinals are buried under the center of the square

4. Unclaimed dead bodies were once kept on display in the center of the square

There was a point in time that if you lived in Toledo, and you were poor, unrecognizable, had no family or acquaintances and were recently deceased, executed, drowned, murdered or killed, your body was going to be put on public display in Plaza de Zocodover in a clavicote.

A large cage like structure, the clavicote was described as being an oval shaped wooden framework, with a domed roof and a green iron cross on the top and the closed with bars.

The entire structure was placed on six large stone blocks in Plaza de Zocodover.

Alms were collected and left at the clavicote to help pay for the burial of the deceased inside the cage.

Due to the unsanitary conditions of a decomposing corpse in the heat of the summer, the clavicote was moved away from Plaza de Zocodover during public festivals and public events.

The clavicote was finally removed from the center of Plaza de Zocodover in 1814.

5. The free Tuesdays market used to be held there

6. The king once said Zocodover Plaza was offensive to the eye

While visiting Toledo, Philip II (reign 1556 – 1598) stated that Plaza de Zocodover “offends the eye.”

He was so offended by the plaza’s lack of aesthetic appeal that he ordered an architect to design a complete redesign and remodel.

The redesign was to construct a large rectangular square, with the main side located on the left and right sides of the Arco de la Sangre.

Due to the death of the architect, the redesign work stalled and was eventually abandoned and the project was never completely finished.

7 . It contained 2 arches that no longer exist today

As mentioned above, a redesign and reconstruction of Plaza de Zocodover was ordered by King Phillip II in the 16th century.

The new design called for a door that closed the road leading from Plaza de Zocodover to the Alcazar, and two identical arches with doors were built across the road.

In the late 19th century these arches were demolished in order to let street traffic again have access from the plaza to the Alcazar.

 

It has had many names

The most important square in Toledo was not always called Zocodover Plaza. Early in its history, Zocodover Plaza was known as “Plaza del Pozo”. “Pozo” is the Spanish word for “wells”, and this square was a source of water for the early inhabitants of Toledo.

Then it was called “Plaza Real”, and then “Plaza Zocadena.” And then in 1813, the city council got together and decided to change the name to “Plaza de la Constitucion”.

Then in 1936 the plaza, along with most of the Alcazar, was destroyed during the Spanish civil war. Once the plaza was rebuilt, the powers that be decided they needed to get off to a fresh start and yet another name change was in order. So they renamed the plaza to its current name Zocodover Plaza. So far so good…until the next name change!

It hasn’t always existed

Toledo was already inhabited in 193 AD when the Romans invaded, took over, and built a fortress where the Alcazar now stands. (source) As you might have guessed the local population was a little pissed off about being subjected by force, and the Romans decided it would be in their best interest to create an open area around their fortress. In other words, they created a “no man’s land” to prevent their fortress from being invaded. The “no man’s land” continued to exist under the Visigothic and Muslim eras. Zocodover Plaza was eventually built in the area that was originally the Roman’s “no man’s land”.

It is the origins of many legends and traditions