The city of Toledo is surrounded by an impressive wall that was built by the Romans, modified by the Visigoths, enlarged by the Muslims and rebuilt by the Christians.
Over time, as each culture influenced Toledo, it’s size grew and the defensive walls were expanded outward to the position we can see today.
As the perimeter expanded, many of the stones from the original Roman walls and structures were reused in the construction of the new defensive walls.
And of course, with any walled city, gates controlled access into the city.
Let’s take look at each of the city gates, and discover why visiting each of them might be one of the most interesting free things to do in Toledo.
Puerta de Valmardón
The Puerta de Valmardón is one of the oldest gates in Toledo, in fact probably the oldest.
The gate was constructed around the 9th century and it allowed access to the Islamic Medina of Toledo.
Not much is known about its early history, but what is known is that it has had many names throughout history, it has served many functions such as a jail, a butcher shop, and it was home to the local administrative official who oversaw Toledo.
The gate was ultimately bricked over and blocked, and it’s functions were replaced by the nearby Puerta del Sol.
Puerta de Bisagra (the old Gate of Bisagra)
Puerta de Bisagra was constructed during the 11th century and is the only gate from the Muslim age to have survived in reasonably good condition.
The Puerta de Bisagra was one of the main points of entry and exit through the walled city of Toledo.
The gate was a vital source of income
The gate was a very valuable source of income because a person was required to pay a toll if they passed through this gate.
In fact, a toll was required for passage into as well as out of the city.
Puerta de Bisagra Nueva
The Puerta de Bisagra was constructed in the 10th century.
It was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 16th century.
It is composed of two separate bodies: the one that faces the Casco Historico opens with a semicircular arch flanked by square towers topped by roofs and a shield of Charles I at the top.
And the outer side, are two large circular towers. joined by an arch between them.
The shield of the city is located over the top of the arch,
Puerta de los Doce Cantos
This gate is located on the eastern side of the walled enclosure, the side closet to the Puerta de Alcantara.
Ii was a part of the defensive wall set that would have protected the primitive citadel around the Alcázar of the Muslim era.
Over time the gate lost its importance, and with its small size is was partially covered over and largely forgotten about.
The wall next to it was opened up when Cervantes Street was built to allow access to the city.
Puerta del Cambrón
The Puerta del Cambrón is of Muslim origin.
And it is the only gate that is open to traffic.
Its current version dates from 1576 and was structured in a square plan based on a small interior courtyard surrounded by four towers covered by slate spires.
On both sides, it has Renaissance portals with blazons, one of the city outside and one of Felipe II inside.
Below this is an image of the patron saint of Toledo, Santa Leocadia,
Formerly called “Door of the Jews” or “Door of Santa Leocadia”. Its current name comes from the cambroneras, thorny shrubs that grew in the place.
Puerta del Vado
The Puerta del Vado (Bib al-Mahadat) which means ¨Door of the Ford¨ is one of the most overlooked gates of Toledo.
But it has a very interesting history, and it is actually my favorite of all the defensive wall gates.
Puerta del Sol
Puerta de Alarcones
The Puerta de Alarcones is a defensive tower from the Islamic era.
Because the north side of Toledo was the only side not surrounded by the Tagus River, this access on this side of the city was the most vulnerable of all.
Therefore, if an invader managed to overcome the Puerta del Sol, he would have to overcome the Puerta de Alarcones as well to access the interior of the city.
The gate lacks ornamentation, and the upper portion was removed in the seventeenth century and reused in the building of a nearby convent.