Masterpiece of world painting .

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz perfectly reflects all the virtues of the great minds of the Greco.

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Plaza del Conde, 4. Toledo


(+34) 925 256 098




Open from monday to sunday.*



10:00 - 18:45 **



10:00 - 17:45 **





Tickets and bracelets are sold at the monument ticket office.



General: 2’80 €

Reduced: 2’40 € *

Free: 0 € **









* January 1 and December 25 closed.

December 24 and 31 closed at 13:00.

** The ticket window closes 20 min. before


* Accredited school groups.

** Under the age of 11. Accredited religious. Residents in Toledo.


Contacts us now to obtain benefits in the price of the entry if you come from some teaching institution.

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No adaptado para personas con movilidad reducida
No está permitido tomar foto/vídeo
No dispone de aseos públicos
Audioguía disponible
Existe punto de información
Existe material didáctico para profesores
Prohibido comer y beber
Existe una pequeña tienda
No dispone de consigna/ropero
Prohibido el paso sin ropa adecuada



Tripadvisor review


Tripadvisor review


“Come for the painting, stay for the painting”

Well I never. How does the old song go? Yes, that's it... "Flash, bang, wallop, what a picture! What a picture, what a photograph!" Except that this is not a photograph, although such is the quality of the painting you would be forgiven for thinking that it was a photograph (in part).


“Don't Miss It!!!”

It was absolutely amazing to see El Greco's painting in its actual space instead of in an art museum. It is an absolute gem of a painting tucked away in Toledo. We learned on the tour that El Greco's wife was from Toledo. That is why the painting is there.


Tripadvisor review


“El Greco's masterpiece...”

Doménikos Theotokópoulos, otherwise known as El Greco (The Greek) painted a mural at the Iglesia de Santo Tomas in Toledo. Though he was Greek, Toledo made him famous, and vice versa. The Burial of the Count of Orgaz celebrates the burial of Don Gonzalo Ruiz, the Count of Orgaz. According to legend, when he was buried, St. Augustine and St....




The parish church must have been founded after the Christian Reconquista of the city by Alfonso VI in 1085, as the first news that we have of its existence is from 1142. From the first Mudejar building, it has kept the large multifoil arch superimposed upon the main arch that separates the main nave from the presbytery together with the sturdy buttresses of this part of the nave and a small trefoil arch on a brick frieze arranged in Mudejar style that survives in the high part in what used to be the semicircular sanctuary of the original single nave church.




Inscriptions on the tomb of D. Gonzalo


Don Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, main notary of Castile and Lord of the villa of Orgaz, was known for his generous works of charity. He contributed to the reconstruction of the parish churches like this one, San Justo and San Bartolomé. He built the church of San Esteban for the Augustinian convent. In his will, he had ordered an annual donation to this church of pledges consisting of 2 rams, 2 skins of wine, 2 loads of firewood, 16 hens and 800 Spanish maravedis to support the priests and the poor living in the parish. This had to be collected from among the inhabitants of his estate of Orgaz. He also ordered that he be buried in this church in the most humble spot: the last of the chapels in the epistle nave. Since the works had not been concluded when he died in 1323, he was temporarily buried in the neighboring church of San Esteban. When his body was moved to his chapel of Santo Tomé in 1327, the admiring attendees tell that, when the liturgy of the deceased was being celebrated, everyone recognized St. Augustine himself and the young deacon, St. Stephen, who appeared in the church. They placed him in the tomb with their own hands as a reward for his life of charity. At the same time, they heard: "such a reward is received by he who serves God and his saints."

Dr. Francisco de Pisa, historian, in his  work “Descripción de la Imperial Ciudad de Toledo” (1605)

"And the sermon refers to and tells of a notable miracle that came to pass during the time that they were going to bury the body of this holy gentleman in this very church: that the glorious ones, St. Stephen protomartyr and St. Augustine (to whom he was particularly devoted in life), visibly descending from heaven; with their own hands, they buried him, saying these words: Such a reward is received by he who serves God and the saints." (Dr. Francisco de Pisa)



The first medieval improvements

It was notably rebuilt in the early fourteenth century, at the expense of the Lord of Orgaz, don Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo. So they had to add to the two lateral naves with a flat sanctuary.


The tower

This is the surviving element from the first church. It was devoid of a sanctuary. Set into its walls are pieces carved in the Visigothic era. It has a square floor and follows the scheme of the Islamic minarets. On the inside, it preserves the main buttress, around which are arranged the stairs. On the lower brick body, two brick bodies are superimposed, in which windows with horseshoe arches open to shelter the belfry. Between the two bodies, the frieze of multifoil arches are of remarkable beauty. It is sustained by green and ochre glazed ceramic columns. This detail links it with the towers of San Román and San Miguel.


The final improvements

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, it was decided to improve the sanctuary by expanding the main chapel and covering it with complex groined vaulting from the last gothic period. The family of the Counts of Ayala had been using this place as a funeral chapel as evidenced by the numerous black slate tombstones preserved in the presbytery walls. It is even believed that the current chapel of la Dolorosa was originally the passageway that linked to the Fuensalida palace, this lineage's main home.


In the early 17th century, it was proposed to improve the naves due to their poor condition. Furthermore, it was decided to restore walls, reinforce the pillars with granite foundations and change their octagonal profiles with square ones, chisel the arches until their profiles were converted into half point and add a line of impost beneath the central barrel vault. The construction work commissioned in 1614 would be concluded around 1661. Then the entrance colonnade was improved, until 1972 when, in order to not alter the church's liturgical life, together with the church's last bay, it was turned into a museum of El Greco's paintings, with a separate entrance for visitors.



Our Lady of the Smile




Valuable sculptures

The temple holds major groups of sculptures, beginning with the oldest one, next to the side door: the so-called Virgen de la Sonrisa (Virgin of Smiles), a precious specimen of a gothic virgin with almond-shaped eyes and a wide smile that gazes at the Child while he caresses her chin with intimate tenderness. In the main chapel, there are important seventeenth century baroque sculptures. The powerful figure of St. Elijah, lost in deep sleep or a prophetic vision, lets the inner force in his bearded face, his tense hand and the angular folds in his ample robes show through. Across from Elijah's restraint, the expansion of a John the Baptist that opens his arms and fingers in a show of technique without losing an ounce of naturalism. In the silver work episode, the gilded silver monstrance stands out. It is the neoclassical work of Claudio Vegué in 1883.


Main Chapel

The first news about the construction of the current gothic style main chapel date back to 1483. This was when Juan Gaus, a few meters away was beginning construction of the San Juan de los Reyes monastery in the style called gothic of the Catholic Monarchs. This was a symbiosis of Flemish gothic with Castilian Mudejar. The mastery of building solutions is also demonstrated here: a complex eight-pointed star vault whose ribs are gathered by corbels that are decorated with the images of the four evangelists.


The first altarpiece having been lost, the current one from the nineteenth century displays a good painting by Vicente López, a chamber painter of the monarchs Ferdinand VII and Isabella II, with the portrayal of the Incredulity of St. Thomas. The harmonic composition of sculpturesque figures of academic drawing and pure colors lead one to raise Thomas' doubt and resolve it through the masterful sleight of hand and gestures.


La Concepción Chapel

Founded by Pedro de la Fuente, it served as a burial pot for the Lord of Orgaz. It was improved by the architect Nicolás de Vergara el Mozo in 1586 to hang the El Greco painting.


La Dolorosa Chapel

Its narrow floor with a strange orientation with regard to the naves makes one suspect that it conceals a passageway joining the Fuensalida Palace. Among other processional images, it keeps two good baroque carvings of the Virgin and St. John belonging to a Calvary.


La Encarnación Chapel

Presided by the altarpiece commissioned in 1556 to the architect Nicolás de Vergara the Elder, with sculptures by Diego de Velasco de Ávila and paintings by Hernando de Ávila. The painting that stands out among them is the main one of the Presentation of Jesus at the temple, and above it, a penitent St. Jerome.


Virgen de Monte-Sión Chapel

Well into the sixteenth century, in 1559, according to the inscription on the entrance gate, the gothic style chapel was built next to the tower. Today it is called the Monte-Sión chapel, as it keeps the image that was the property of the San Bernardo monastery, disentailed. Its two narrow sections are covered with two groined vaults similar to the main chapel's. On the outside is the Renaissance font brought here from the foot of the nave. It is the habitual place for receiving catechumens who have not yet received communion from the Church. Marble and scallop shaped, it is decorated with acanthus leaves and with a Latin inscription that says: “Qui crediderit et bautizatus fuerit salvus erit, qui vero non crediderit, condemnatibur.”

Virtual visit


the painting


Origin of the painting


In 1562, the villa of Orgaz had stopped paying. The parish priest filed a lawsuit at the Chancery of Valladolid, which he won in 1569. Therefore, he decided to use the money to honor the memory of the Lord of Orgaz. He made improvements to his funeral chapel. He commissioned the humanist, Álvar Gómez de Castro to etch an epitaph in Latin remembering the miraculous event and his victory before justice. The epitaph was etched in stone and placed over his tomb. At the same time, in order to do away with all myths or legends invented, He decided to ask Rome to officially recognize the miracle. He obtained this by Royal Decree in 1583. Finally, he commissioned one of his parishioners, known as a painter, nicknamed "The Greek", to paint a painting that served as a commemoration of the benefactor and a reminder of the miraculous event.



The contract

with the painter


The contract, signed in March of 1586, filed in the parish archive states: "The first thing that must be painted from the top down must be painted on canvas (...), a procession of how the priest and the other clerics that were performing the service to bury don Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, Lord of the villa of Orgaz, and St. Augustine and St. Stephen descending to bury this gentleman's body. One of them taking hold of the head and the other the feet. They are lowering him into the tomb. There are many people around watching, and an top of all of this, Heaven open to Glory must be made.



The afternoon

of the burial


The scene represented is exactly the one of the funeral at the precise moment in which the two saints bend down to personally deposit and lower the body into the tomb. A nobleman's funeral procession with the presence of the city's most distinguished citizen in strict mourning, together with representative members of the mendicant orders: Franciscans, Dominicans and Trinitarians, as well as all of the elements of the liturgy of the dead: six lighted tapers, the processional cross, vestments, the ritual book... The body language of those present who silently, absorbed... witness the miracle. As his contemporaries remarked, "the distinguished noblemen of our time are portrayed as being very lifelike", among whom we have only been able to recognize perhaps the beneficiary, Rodrigo de la Fuente bearing the processional cross, the priest Andrés Núñez clad in his vestment, and officiating with the book in his hands, and at a profile, his friend Antonio de Covarrubias, a jurist participating in the last sessions of the Council of Trent, whose theses El Greco must have known in depth.


El Greco goes even farther

 The upper part was left to el Greco's complete will. Here, he synthesized the ideas of the Counter-Reformation. The glorification of the saints and their role as intercessors before Jesus Christ, the Supreme Judge. The Last Judgment is transformed here into the particular judgment of don Gonzalo's soul. The recognition of his good works opened the gates of heaven to him. The importance of faith with works that lead the soul to the state of grace, together with Jesus Christ's the Judge's mercifulness affords him the final reward.


The anachronism resource

To bring his teachings to his epoch and inspire the application of charity and good deeds, El Greco anachronistically painted a fourteenth century medieval event with people and elements from the sixteenth century. Don Gonzalo is dressed in armor of a knight from the Golden Age, the vestments are contemporary and the people are clothed according to Spanish fashion. They are authentic portraits of his contemporary; full of realism. The boy who points out the event to the participants turns out to be Jorge Manuel, the painter's son, the fruit of the relationship with Jerónima de las Cuevas. The date, 1578, written on the handkerchief sticking out of his pocket, is the date of his birth. The painter himself paints himself onto the face that watches the spectator behind the figure of the knight of the order of St. James who opens his hands.


Approach, climax and final outcome

The gaze penetrates the lower left angle and the child, with his "stop and look" gesture leads it toward the central scene in which the bearded elder, Augustine and the very young deacon, Esteban form an oasis of light that envelops the deceased man's heavy body that is lowered into the tomb. Meanwhile, in the upper part, above the frieze of portrayed heads, an angel ascends with the nebulous figure of don Gonzalo's soul in its arms.

The angel prepares to cross a narrow channel of clouds: a metaphor of the maternal womb in the final birth unto true light, eternal life. Upon reaching heaven, the first face that he is going to encounter is Mary's. She prepares to open her mantle in an unusual gesture in which theologians have interpreted the maternal reception of one of her children in her virginal bosom. Next to her in the traditional and Byzantine scene of Deesis, St. John the Baptist gesticulates with his angular body to intercede before the Supreme Judge, Jesus Christ, who, far from being a terrible figure who inspires fear, enveloped in light and a white mantle. Jesus has a sweet face and the wound of his passion accepted for the salvation of every man is fully visible in his side.  His right hand is extended toward St. Peter, bearer of the keys to heaven. This is the final outcome of the story of the Lord or Orgaz, whose soul is admitted in the glory of the just.


Gathering of all saints

The multitude of saints that they behold in worship of the King of Glory is prodigious. Behind John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and his brother St. James, patron saint of Spain, wrapped in an orange mantle, and behind them, the rest of the apostles in which King Phillip II is included. He was a respected defender of the Catholic faith, not yet dead, and finally with square in hand, St. Thomas, titular of the parish. On the lower plane to the left appear the figures who represent the Old Testament: King David with his harp, Moses with the Ten Commandments and Noah with his Ark. On the other end are three figures chosen from the New Testament: Mary Magdalene with the jar of ointment, first witness to the resurrection, Martha, who proclaimed her faith in the resurrection and her brother, Lazarus, half naked, brought back from the dead by Jesus.


Prodigious technique

There are multiple artistic findings displayed in the painting. The deceased's Renaissance armor portrays astounding glitter and reflections of nearby faces. The flesh colors of the faces exhibit all shades of color: livid and purplish on the deceased lord, pallid and sickly on the old bishop with a disheveled beard, rosy and fresh on the young deacon. The worked silver cross, a veritable exercise in painting, loose and vibrant demonstrates the command of qualities and textures. The vestments are awe inspiring due to their resolution from the transparency on the cleric's surplice, a prodigy of oil based diluted brushstrokes to the gold and silk embroidery, brilliant on the St. Augustine's pluvial, in relief on the brocade of St. Stephen's dalmatic, where the painter introduces the painting within the painting with the scene of St. Stephen's martyrdom where St. Stephen receives the blows of his naked executioners on his knees while he contemplates the open sky with the Trinity waiting to receive his soul.

Form and substance

Also considered to be the painter's work that is the most complex and rich in meaning, one of the most profound ones created by the human spirit. In this work, man, down the road to beauty, is inserted in the contemplation of the last Christian truths. The novísimos: death, judgment and glory are disseminated by the Council of Trent in the face of the theories of predestination and the anguishing enigma of death. Jesus Christ, eternal Son of God the Father has died to drag behind him a humanity that is redeemed for a glorious resurrection. A theological content served by very audacious esthetics based on unreal lights, intense colors, beauty in stylized forms, naturalness and super naturalness, surprising composite displays... the product of the painter's pictorial knowledge and intellectual humanism.


 Charity never ends

In 2001, the excavations performed in the chapel located the body of the Lord of Orgaz in the inside of his granite sarcophagus whose austere upper slab was uncovered as a sign of the story's veracity. The charity that don Gonzalo practiced in life and spread after his death is portrayed to this day in numerous works of charity among the Toledo's neediest and the mission territories defrayed by the proceeds of numerous tourist visits.


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