(b. 1488, Torrijos, Toledo, d. 1570, Toledo)

Exterior view

Alcázar, Toledo

Covarrubias accepted commissions in other cities in spite of his duties at Toledo Cathedral. In 1537, together with Luis de Vega, he was chosen by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, to be surveyor to the fabric of the Alcázares (palaces) at Madrid, Toledo and Seville, a post he was to hold until 1569.

In 1543 Covarrubias began to remodel the medieval Alcázar of Toledo in a Renaissance style. In the façade (1545-52) he introduced a classic order, albeit only on the two end elevations, as an element in the vertical articulation: royal taste, however, required the inclusion of certain emblematic and decorative features alongside the classic elements, although the grotesque ornamentation of the plateresque is absent. The sobriety of the rectangular courtyard with two storeys of Corinthian cloisters is complete, while the tripartite opening of the entrance hall is another innovation. A sense of strict axial symmetry is promoted by the location of the stairway at the rear of the courtyard, rather than its usual placement near the entrance. In Covarrubias's previous designs this feature had always been placed in a central, visible position as a double square turning staircase for the use of two symmetrical courtyards. In Toledo, while retaining the characteristic, Spanish open stairwell, he opened the staircase on to the courtyard through galleries. Planned in 1550 and begun in 1553, it was the first example of the imperial type of five (E-shaped) flights to be built in Europe.

The photo shows the main façade.

View the ground plan of the Alcázar, Toledo.