Santiago del Arrabal Church | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Santiago del Arrabal Church

Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain

Lucy Davidson

24 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shuttershock

About Santiago del Arrabal Church

Santiago del Arrabal Church (Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal) is a 13th century Catholic church in Toledo that is widely considered to be one of the city’s most impressive Mudejar style buildings.

History of Santiago del Arrabal Church

The church was built in 1245-48 at the orders of Sancho II, King of Portugal from 1223-48. It was built on the site of an earlier building, possibly a mosque. Indeed, many characteristics of traditional Islamic architecture decorate the building, such as the horseshoe arch, which is built in the Mudejar style.

Additionally it has three naves, with a gabled roof and a triple apse, the exterior of which is decorated with a double row of multifoil openings. Inside the church features a beautiful 14th century Mudejar plasterwork pulpit, several tombstones, and a stunning 16th century Plateresque high reredos.

The church is dedicated to Saint James (translated as ‘Santiago’ in Spanish). The phrase ‘del Arrabal’ is a Spanish word of Arabic origin that refers to its location on the outskirts of Toledo. After Sancho II’s death, the patrons of the church during its foundation became members of the Diosdado family, knight commanders of the religious and military organisation Order of Santiago.

The temple was originally attached to the city Bisgra Gate amongst other historic buildings. In the 20th century, however, significant reconstruction in the area resulted in Santiago del Arrabal being disconnected from the gate and surrounding buildings, meaning it now stands freely. 

Santiago del Arrabal Church today

The church is one of Toledo’s most prominent and famous features amongst its medieval Arab, Jewish, and Christian monuments in its walled old city. It is a fully functioning Catholic Church which is open during normal hours of worship. As a tourist destination, the church is slightly more off the beaten track when compared with Toledo’s renowned and famous Cathedral, making it a valuable choice for curious explorers.

Getting to Santiago del Arrabal Church 

You can reach Toledo by train from Madrid in about 25 minutes from Madrid Atocha railway station. Equally, it’s an easy one hour drive from Madrid along the A42 main road. It being such an accessible but hidden gem makes Santiago del Arrabal Church well worth a day trip from the capital to admire its beautiful blend of architectural styles.

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