Alcázar

sights / Military

Alcázar information

Toledo , Spain
Address
Street Calle Alféreces Provisionales
Prices
adult/child €5/free
Opening hours
11am-5pm
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Lonely Planet review

At the highest point in the city looms the foreboding Alcázar. Rebuilt under Franco, it has been reopened as a vast military museum. The usual displays of uniforms and medals are here, but the best part is the exhaustive historical section, with an in-depth overview of the nation's history in Spanish and English.

Abd ar-Rahman III raised an al-qasr (fortress) here in the 10th century, which was thereafter altered by the Christians. Alonso Covarrubias rebuilt it as a royal residence for Carlos I, but the court moved to Madrid and the fortress eventually became a military academy. The Alcázar was heavily damaged during the siege of the garrison by loyalist militias at the start of the Civil War in 1936. The soldiers' dogged resistance, and the famous refusal of their commander, Moscardó, to give it up in exchange for his son's life, made the Alcázar a powerful Nationalist symbol.

The exhibition is epic in scale and by the time you get to the end of the 19th century your feet will be begging for mercy, but relief is at hand: sensibly the Civil War is essentially skipped over in one sensitively conceived paragraph to avoid controversy. You can, however, see a re-creation of Moscardó's office; other highlights include the monumental central patio decorated with Habsburg coats of arms, and archaeological remains from Moorish times.