Photograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro Casado

Name of Monument:

Convent of the Conception of St Francis


Plaza de la Concepción, 1, Toledo, Spain

Date of Monument:

Two periods: 13th–15th centuries and 16th century

Period / Dynasty:



The Franciscans erected the first building, which must have been inhabitable before 1280. It was extended at the time of Queen María de Molina (c. 1265–1321) and in 1501 the order moved to San Juan de los Reyes. Queen Isabel I of Castile (r. 1474–1504) gave the convent to the women's community of the Conception, founded by St Beatriz de Silva (1424–91) along with the neighbouring convent of Santa Fe. It was founded in 1489 under the same dedication, but was subject to Cistercian rule. After the death of the founder and in light of problems caused by this dual obedience, they combined under the rule of the Seraphic St Francis in 1511.


Built on land belonging to the Galiana Palaces, work on this convent was carried out in two stages, the first between the 13th and 15th centuries and the second in the early 16th century. The complexity of the building accounts for the protracted period of time taken to complete it. The lower cloister basically accounts for the surviving structures from the first period, with its tombstones decorated with plasterwork that is a foundation for the study of early Gothic Mudéjar decoration in Toledo, and a reference for subsequent funerary sculpture. Of the numerous tombs, the one for Lupus Fernandi in the east wing stands out as one of the most exquisite of its type in Toledo. It takes the shape of a stilted engrailed arch crowned with a frieze of honeycomb and plaster work with digitate and ring leaflets, an Arabic inscription and intertwined motifs that are repeated in the intrados with 8- and 16-lazo knotwork. Running from left to right there are two protomes (upper bodies) of lions. The text about the deceased is an antecedent of the thinking that would become widespread in the late middle ages on the subject of mortality.
The first convent church, probably erected in the 14th century, would have consisted of a central nave and two side naves with chapels. There is little left of the old chancel dedicated to St Catalina, which probably dated back to the first half of the 15th century and was covered with a Gothic egg-and-dart motif brick vault, or of the chapel of St Jeronimo, built by the merchant Gonzalo López de la Fuente and decorated in 1422, whose Manises-tiled plinth has been lost but whose vault covered with glazed clay and fired clay has survived. The tower and some of the brick arches are also Mudéjar from the time of the Franciscans, as are the arches and plasterwork of the sacristy, now located inside a chapel on the right-hand side of the church.
Alterations made since the convent was handed over to the nuns of the Conception changed the original form profoundly. The most noteworthy Morisco-Renaissance work includes the plasterwork and tiles of several of the apertures in the lower cloister, the construction and decoration of the upper cloister and the decoration of several of the apertures in the Courtyard of the Aljibes (pools). Other buildings from the 16th century were already being built in the Renaissance style.

View Short Description

This convent, whose outer walls follow the typical Toledan model of masonry with rows of bricks, still contains the most original Mudéjar vault: a hemisphere decorated with tiles (alboaire), in this case blue and gold. Its structure, also made of ceramic, forms an interlacing pattern now difficult to make out.

How Monument was dated:

A tombstone, possibly made for Gonzalo Esteva, suggests that the first building was inhabited by 1280. In addition to this tombstone, cited by Amador de los Ríos (see Bibliography) the walls of the cloister contain those of the mayor Per Juanes (d. 1297), Arias Ferrades de Galliçia (d. 1304), Lupus Fernandi (d. 1312) and Johan Alfonso (d. 1345). The chapel of St Jeronimo, now walled in, has a vault with Manises tiles made by the craftsman Alfonso Fernández in 1422.

Selected bibliography:

Amador de los Ríos, R., Monumentos Arquitectónicos de España: Toledo, Madrid, 1905, pp.353–77.
Franco Mata, á., “Convento de la Concepción Franciscana”, Arquitecturas de Toledo, Vol. I: Del Romano al Gótico,Toledo, 1992, pp.481–7.
Martínez Caviró, B., Conventos de Toledo, Madrid, 1990, pp.256–85.
Martínez Caviró, B., Mudéjar Toledano. Palacios y Conventos, Madrid, 1980, pp.43–96.

Citation of this web page:

Ángela Franco "Convent of the Conception of St Francis" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018.;ISL;es;Mon01;25;en

Prepared by: Ángela FrancoÁngela Franco

Ángela Franco es Jefa del Departamento de Antigüedades Medievales en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
Obtuvo el Grado de Doctor por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid con la tesis Escultura gótica en León y provincia, premiada y publicada parcialmente (Madrid, 1976; reed. León, 1998); y la Diplomatura en Paleografía y Archivística por la Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica, con la tesis L'Archivio paleografico italiano: indici dei manoscritti, publicada en castellano (Madrid, 1985). Becas de investigación: beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1974-75); beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1975-77); beca de la Fundación Juan March de Madrid (1978).
Tiene en su haber 202 publicaciones, fundamentalmente sobre arte medieval cristiano, en especial la iconografía: Crucifijo gótico doloroso, Doble Credo, Danzas de la Muerte, temática bíblica en relación con la liturgia (el Génesis y el Éxodo en relación con la vigilia Pascual) o con el teatro (Secundum legem debet mori, sobre el “pozo de Moisés” de la cartuja de Dijon). Es autora de cuatro catálogos monográficos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, entre ellos el de Dedales islámicos (Madrid, 1993), y de publicaciones sobre escultura gótica y pintura en la catedral de León y sobre escultura gótica en Ávila, así como de numerosas fichas para catálogos de exposiciones.
Ha participado en innumerables congresos nacionales e internacionales, presentando ponencias y mesas redondas, y ha dirigido cursos y ciclos de conferencias. Es Secretaria de Publicaciones en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional desde 1989.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 29


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