Taking advantage of the fact that Toledo has a legend to tell in every corner, we are going to tell you a couple of them. And we will use as an excuse the Church of the Christ of Light, or the Mosque of Bad al-Mardum, or whatever you want to call it. You are before a monument that brings together a unique mixture of the various cultures that the centuries have brought around here.
To put things into perspective, we will tell you that the first thing that was on this site, Roman stones aside, was a Visigoth Church. Later, the Arabs arrived and taking advantage of some of the capitals of the Church they built their Mosque, one of the many that the city had.
If we look at an inscription that has survived on its façade, we will see that it was built in the year 999. Is there a better year to build anything?
And now, let’s get to the promised legends:
Alfonso VI conquered the city in 1085, and as he entered through the old Bisagra Gate, and passed by the Muslim oratory, his horse stopped and stayed put. Since the animal did not want to move, the king’s entourage got on their feet and started to investigate the place. And what do you think they found? Well, it was an image of Christ which had been buried and remained hidden all that time. But hidden does not mean in the dark, because there was also at its side a miraculous light that would have been shining for three hundred and seventy-odd years.
Does this sound a lot like the legend of the Virgin Almudena in Madrid? Yes, it does. Did it happen in that same year and with the same king in charge? Yes, it did. But just to increase your confusion, wait we tell you the second legend:
It is about a miracle which happened when the city was mostly Christian: a Jew who was annoyed with the ones with the Christian Cross, poisoned the foot of the image of the Christ so those who kissed it, would fall dead on the spot. But it turns out that the image, by itself, released its deadly foot and set it apart from the devotees, a manoeuvre that the poisoner did no take well. He returned with a dagger and stabbed the figure viciously before taking it home, not noticing that the Christ began to bleed from the wound, leaving a trail that led the vigilante town to the house of the wrongdoer, who was killed mercilessly.
And so, thanks to these legends with so many Christian miracles in between, the Muslim sanctuary was converted into a Christian Church without much modifications or additions. Something to be grateful for, since there are very few mosques left from those times as well preserved as this one.