Holy Toledo!

Toledo has by far stolen my far, and I would have to say that it will probably be one of my favorite cities that I have visited in Spain. Upon my arrival in Toledo it felt like I had taken a step back in time. As oppose to Madrid, where there is historic sites throughout the city but it is swallowed up by modern city life, Toledo is a whole different animal. Here you find not an inch of skyscrapers or urban buildings but instead you find narrow cobble stone streets, steep gradients, ancient buildings, all enclosed by its city walls. Toledo is located in the heart of Spain, specifically in the region of Castilla-La-Mancha, place where the famous tale of Don Quixote de La Mancha takes place. In a city like Toledo it’s easy to imagine such tales taking place and feel nostalgic about its history.

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Sometimes the narrow streets lead you nowhere
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Near the city plaza!

 

Before entering the city we made a stop at Mirador del Valle which is basically a looking point on outskirts of the city, where not only did we get an incredible view but we also got a funny story from our tour guide who told us on old legend that says that men will stand here to find themselves a lady. As we made our entrance into the city we crossed the Alcantara Bridge that spans across the Rio Tajo. From there we got a walking tour of the city and walked around its narrow streets seeing plenty of shops that sold either Marzipan, a typical Spanish sweet which its origins come from Toledo, or medieval swords  also something Toledo is known for.

We then made our way to the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes,  which is built in the Gothic style along with Spanish and Flemish influences. Along the monastery you can see domed arches and decorations all over of the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs held by eagles, but I think my favorite part of the monastery was the contrast its courtyard full of vibrant green trees creates along the white walls. After the monastery we visited a synagogue. Wait. A synagogue in Spain? Yes you heard that right. Toledo is known as the city of the three religions, where the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian religion all coexisted peacefully- well at least for some time. Originally known as the Ibn Shushan Synagogue the Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue now stands as the ultimate souvenir of religious coexistence as it was constructed under the Christian kingdom by Islamic architects for Jewish use. Going along with the theme of visiting religious monuments we made our way to our last one, the Cathedral, and I can arguably say we saved the best for last.

 

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Courtyard in the monastery

 

The Cathedral has its own fair share of history as well- it was built on top of a Muslim which before that had been a Visigoth church. I can arguably say that the Cathedral’s interior is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen- swathed with the work of the painter known as “El Greco” you feel like you are inside a mini museum of his work. The interior is splattered with elaborate iron work, beautiful wood carvings, colorful stained glass windows, and a spectacular altar of real gold on wood. I probably said “wow” so many times inside the cathedral that I probably swallowed a couple flies. I hope not!

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The Cathedral was built in the 13th century in the typical Gothic style

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Painting on the ceiling by Luca Giordano

Finally, we ended our day by heading to the public library, not to read books but rather to head to the café on the top floor. Not only did we enjoy a delicious and typical Spanish café con leche (coffee with milk), but we also got to enjoy yet another amazing view of the city. And in Porky the Pig style- “That’s all folks!”. I will see you all until my next adventure, very soon!

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A view of the cathedral’s tower on the way to the public library
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The view from the cafe in the library!

 

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