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Where the light comes in – Toledo Cathedral

El Transparente - Toledo Cathedral
This is Toledo Cathedral, directly behind the altar. I visited on a Sunday morning when the church first opened, and the sun came in through a skylight cut high in the walls and illuminated the sculptures behind the altar. I felt extraordinarily lucky to see it, wanting to call people over to see it. Can you see what the light is doing? It’s for us!

As it turns out, this play of light and architecture is called el Transparente, the transparency. The light continues through a piercing in the altar to reach the sacrament, usually deep in shadows. The architects’ joy and playfulness come down the three centuries since they planned this, every day in a few minutes of clarity.

This, below, is what the light illuminates. A Baroque effusion of angels, saints, prophets, cardinals, and rather a lot of cherubs, grouped around the opening where the sun goes through.

El Transparente - Toledo CathedralToledo Cathedral - El Transparente