The hidden treasure of El Baño de la Cava

Fernando Tello &

There are many special and charming places in Toledo, but the Baño de la Cava is especially impressive due to its location on the banks of the Tagus, the river at the heart of the city’s growth and development. The site is also renowned due to the legend that supposedly took place here.

On arriving at the site you will find a tower near the San Martín Bridge which seems to have formerly been host to a multi-levelled dock, designed as such to take into account the varying height of the river. Its construction dates back to the period of Moorish rule with later modifications after the return of Christian rule.

However, the true reason for the site’s fame is down to a legend proceeding even the tower itself from the period of Visigothic period when Toledo was the capital of the Gothic Kingdom of Spain.

Legend has it that Count Don Julián, a Visigoth nobleman, had a daughter called Florinda La Cava (hence the name of the tower) whom he sent to the Toledan court in the hope that she’d become a courtesan. The young woman was extremely beautiful, and King Don Rodrigo fell head over heels. Unfortunately for the King, she didn’t love him back and his advances went unanswered.

Florinda used to go down to the river every day to bathe, and one summer night the King saw her heading down to the banks of the Tagus. He followed her there and forced himself upon her. Poor Florinda told her father, who feeling humiliated vowed revenge on King Don Rodrigo.

The father found his chance for revenge when he agreed to support the sons of the previous king Witiza, whose throne was taken by Don Rodrigo, in their quest to retake his kingdom with the help of Moorish troops from North Africa. The Arabs saw their chance to take the Iberian Peninsula, something they’d been trying to do for forty years, and therefore betrayed the sons of Witiza and defeated the Visigoths in the Battle of Guadalete in 711. This was the start of a period of Moorish rule of the Iberian peninsula that wouldn’t end until 1492, the last year of the Reconquista when the Nasrid kingdom of Granada was retaken by the Catholic Monarchs.