The “Imperial City” or the “City of the three Cultures”, we are in Toledo. Part of the “Castilla – La Mancha” autonomous region of Spain, the alias of the “City of the Three Cultures” is as a result of the long peaceful coexistence of the Muslims (Moors), Jews and Christians.
Upon arriving to Toledo from Madrid, we were astonished with the beauty of its railroad station. With such a calling card, we were sure that great surprises were awaiting us in Toledo, transporting us to the past.
While still at the railroad station,we could see from afar the impressive “Alcázar” towering over the city. As customary, we embarked on foot towards the historic city via the “Paseo de la Rosa” in direction of the “Puente de Alcántara”. Our steps guided by the “Alcázar” approaching the ancient entrance to the city, strolling along the banks of the “Tajo” River and briefly stopping at an observation post.
At the “Puente de Alcántara”, just below the watchful eyes of the “San Servando” castle, we would admire the fine details of this bridge. Built by the Roman this is the entryway to the city, referred to as medieval has a more ancient history. Through the tower at the other extreme of the bridge another gateway invited us to enter the city. Invitation accepted, we soon found steep steps to the summit. As we climbed, we encountered an old convent and school of the “Orden de las Concepcionistas”. Having reached the city the old fashioned way and as we strolled the “Mirador”, we discovered a much easier way to climb up to the city; Electric Escalators! We would not forget this!
Our march through Toledo would take us to the Gateways of “el Sol”
and of “Valmardon” as if wanting to guide us to find the “Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz”. This small mosque was inspired by the great Mosque of Cordoba and built by the Moors around the year 999. Nowadays known as the Shrine of “Cristo de la Luz”, it is made up of the ancient mosque and an adjacent Christian chapel ordered by “Alfonso el Sabio” upon conquering the city. Beneath are ancient roman ruins visible. When we arrived at the mosque, we purchased a tourist bracelet which would enable us to discover “Toledo Monumental”. For just 7 euros, we gained access to seven of the city’s most important monuments. A bargain!
Existing the Mosque, we faced the narrow and steep streets, paved in stone. Ready to discover a city which despite its medieval look kept integrated the Moorish, Jewish, Roman and Christian heritage and culture.
Find more pictures at the following link: TOLEDO
Still alive in Toledo is another great tradition, the forging of swords. As a result of particular alloy of iron and steel, the swords of Toledo gained notoriety during the age of the Spanish Empire and kings of all Europe would acquire their swords from this great city. This fame reached Hollywood, where its swords and replicas have dominated epic movies. As we walked the narrow streets, we came upon one of the oldest forger of swords in Toledo. It was here were the swords used in movies such as Conan and Lord of the Rings as well of the TV series Game of Thrones were forged. Also attributed to swords forgers of Toledo were the weapons used in other films such as The Immortals, Braveheart and Gladiator. Toledo was also the filming location for the popular Spanish TV series of “Aguila Roja” (13 seasons), a hero much in the style of Robin Hood or Zorro. Finding this place was definitely a most welcomed surprise.
Time to leave behind this fantasy of being a Templar
and moving onward we reach the Jesuit Church. A very beautiful temple in which we would go up to its towers and enjoy an enviable view of the city. A few steps away in front of this temple, at the “Padre Juan de Mariana” square we would enjoy the snacks of the tavern “La Flor de la Esquina”.
The highlight was a tasty cheese made from red wine and prices were reasonable. As we enjoyed the cheese and beers, the waitress told us about reaching the highest point of the city. Up the steep “San Roman” street we went and near the Saint Peter Martyr Church we would reach the peak marked by a grill sewer top.
We visited the “Real Colegio de las Doncellas Nobles” (Royal School for Noble Ladies) and continued on to the “San Juan de los Reyes” plaza. Here we enjoyed a lovely scenery and we able to have a glimpse of the “Palacio de la Cava”.
Exploring the monastery of “San Juan de los Reyes” was inspirational. It is a great place to create wedding memories,
Down the “Reyes Católicos” Street we went and came upon the “Santa Maria la Blanca” Synagogue. A jewel of the Jewish tradition which marks the path to the Jewish ward. Further down we would find the Church of “el Salvador”. Here we overheard some tour guides explaining to their groups that as a result of the seasonal adjustment in the hour in Spain, the closing time for most of the important sites was at 17:00 hours (5:00 pm). What!!!!! We look at the time and the race was on. We ran pass the “Sinagoga del Tránsito” and the Greco Museum, advancing quickly towards the Cathedral of Toledo. This would be the first (of many) we would visit. Arriving in the nick of time, we bought our tickets and entered. The effort was rewarded. Each step of the way through this temple we would be continuously be awed. A Christian church incredibly beautiful.
Pictures of the Cathedral: Catedral
Our mission to the Cathedral of Toledo was complete while the light of day began to diminish and we still had to visit the “Alcázar” of Toledo. We had learned earlier in the day when speaking with some of the locals that we could visit the library of the monument (it is closed to visitors for the most part) and enjoy a warm brew of coffee. Here we enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the city as little by little the city would become lit.
We left the “Alcázar” and headed to the “Zocodover” Square, window shopping along the way. We discovered that this medieval city was infused in the great globalization. The invasion of McDonalds and Burger Kings, side by side facing the famous square. Alas!
The autumn nights begin early, the darkness engulfing the city as if saying it is time to leave and return to the train station and back to Madrid. Upon inquiring, a police officer indicated that we had nothing to fear. That the walled city and its surroundings were very safe at night. The city has a sophisticated surveillance system with cameras through-out the city and neighborhoods. Good to know!
As we started to depart, we promptly remembered that we would take the escalator down to the banks of the “Tajo” River to cross the “Puente de Alcántara”. Every step of the way we would glance back to enjoy the view of the city completely illuminated.
A close friend told us that it was always good to leave somethings unseen so as to justify a return visit. Words of wisdom! We learned that there was no such thing as a city so small and that the city of Toledo inasmuch as many other places, warranted more than two days to fully enjoy it.
Toledo; We’ll be back!