Cueva de Hércules

Useful Information

Location: Callejón de San Ginés, 3, 45001 Toledo.
100 m from the Cathedral, in the city center.
(39.858688, -4.024322)
Classification: SubterraneaCistern
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Cueva de Hércules, Callejón de San Ginés, 3, 45001 Toledo, Tel: +34-925-25-30-80.
Consorcio de la Ciudad de Toledo, Plaza de Santo Domingo el Antiguo, 4, 45002 Toledo, Tel: +34-925-284-289. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1st century water tank built.
1148 church of San Ginés first mentioned.
1841 church demolished.


Cueva de Hércules (Cave of Hercules) is actually a Roman cistern, built during the second half of the 1st century. An aqueduct bringing drinking water to the city crossed the River Tagus and ended here. At first there was a water tank, which was later covered by a barrel vault, realized in ashlar. The wall was made from opus caementicium (Roman concrete) and covered with opus signinum.

In the Visigothic era a church was built on top, then in the Al-Andalus period replaced by a mosque. In 1085, Alfonso VI captured Toledo, and in 1148 a church of San Ginés is first mentioned. It replaced the mosque, but later it deteriorated and was closed to the public during the 18th century. In 1841, it was demolished and the land sold to several neighbours.

Today the building above the cistern contains an exhibition about the site. It also tells the following legend of Hercules, which is obviously nonsense as the cistern did not yet exist during the Bronze Age. The legend claims that the cistern was a natural cave which existed much longer.

Hercules taught magic to all those who so desired in the caves under Toledo. To hide what was done there, he ordered the construction of a palace that rested on four golden lions. When Hercules had to leave the city, he said that no one should enter that place, otherwise a curse would fall on the kingdom. Stories told that the place contained the table of King Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Holy Grail. The later kings of Toledo ordered padlocks to be placed. But Don Rodrigo, known as "the usurper king", ventured to break the locks to enter that place. But when he walked through the galleries, his knights disappeared into the darkness. Finally, he reached a small room with a small chest. In search of coins or other treasure he opened and found only a scroll. On the pergament were muslims with turban, sayal, and crescent-shaped swords. An inscription said: "cursed be you, oh King who, for having entered this place, those drawn here will conquer your kingdom forever." There he fled and a large black bird set the place on fire behind him. Soon after the Muslims defeated Don Rodrigo in the famous battle of Guadalete, killed him and Toledo fell under Muslim rule for almost four centuries.