Toledo, Spain

Charmingly small and remarkably resilient, the town of Toledo, the capital of the province of the same name and the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, has seen, perhaps, everything. It was conquered by the Romans, besieged by the Visigoths and the Moors. He sent his troops to fight under the flags of the Reconquista and survived a 72-day blockade during the Spanish Civil War. Cervantes liked to visit here, making this town the residence of the cunning hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha. And for one of the greatest artists of the Spanish Renaissance, El Greco, Toledo became “the new homeland, where after death he achieved eternal life” – here the master created his famous canvases.

A complex mix of different cultures and religions (Christian, Jewish and Muslim), generously seasoned with national crafts (steel making, ceramics, cheese making, winemaking), Toledo itself looks like aged wine. They should be enjoyed slowly, then with each new sip it will open up brighter and brighter. Check itypeusa for other cities and countries as well as brief information about Europe.

What to bring

From the ancient capital of Spain, you should not bring a boring “souvenir”, although there is just a sea of ​​​​all kinds of magnetic figurines here. Those who want to leave a memory of Toledo that can be passed on to their descendants should stock up on money for one of the city’s calling cards: Toledo gold, ceramics or steel.

Toledo gold (“Damascus”) is created by engraving drawings on a blackened steel base – they are then filled with gold or silver, which is cheaper. Jewelry, caskets, chess and other knick-knacks created using this technique are wonderfully beautiful. No less good is the local ceramics; the traditions of its manufacture have been kept since the 11th century. For it, it is better to ride to the town of Talavera de la Reina (80 km from Toledo).

Toledo steel is often compared with Damascus steel – once the Spanish Syrian even surpassed. She has not lost her exclusivity to this day, so you will have to pay good money for a good blade.

They say that the swords for the film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” were forged in Toledo. Therefore, in local stores there is a huge selection of copies of weapons from this movie, as well as from games like World of Warcraft, etc. Tourists especially recommend Toledo Sword Shop (off. site in English)

The largest number of shops and shopping centers is located on Comercio Street. Prices bite everywhere, but it’s still worth bringing an unusual bag, dress or jewelry from here, as well as local wine, the famous Manchego cheese, which Cervantes wrote about, saffron and marzipans.

Cuisine and restaurants in Toledo

It is better to come to Toledo as a rich hungry non-vegetarian. Then there will be an opportunity to appreciate the amazing cuisine of this town.

The first thing to order is an assortment of local Monchego cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk, accompanied by a glass or two of white wine. Continue with the main meat dish, for example, braised partridge in Toledo, roast hare, venison or wild boar with vegetables (wild meat is the main ingredient in most local dishes), it is served with red wine. For dessert – certainly marzipan (a sweet made from almonds and sugar syrup).

When choosing an institution for a full dinner or a light snack, you should be more careful: there are many of them in the historical center, prices are high, but the quality does not always match. It is better to visit restaurants checked by other tourists. Of the expensive ones, Restaurante Adolfo on Pasaje Callejon Hombre de Palo on Calle Hombre de Palo, 7 is praised for a large selection of wines, an exquisite menu and compliments from the chef; average check for two with wine – from 70 EUR. Coffee and goodies to take away are advised to take in Il Cappuccino on Plaza Magdalena, 4 (6 EUR for a glass of grande coffee and pastries). And for a daytime snack, you can run into any of the city taverns away from the center: a set lunch for two will cost 25 EUR, tips and a glass of wine are included in the bill.

Entertainment and attractions

The sights of Toledo, along with the architectural masterpieces of Madrid, Barcelona and Granada, constitute the historical national wealth of Spain. The local Cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful in the country, and the Museum-Hospital of Santa Cruz will definitely enter the top ten. We recommend coming here for at least two days to truly feel the extraordinary atmosphere of one of the ancient Spanish capitals. If there is not so much time for a tour, then you should choose the most “iconic” places: Alcazar Palace, St. Thomas Church, El Greco House Museum, Cathedral and Socodover Square – the heart of the Old Town.

The historic center of Toledo is quite compact and includes two blocks. The ensemble of medieval buildings, surrounded by a fortress wall, with a narrow labyrinth of streets and a large number of monuments, is protected by UNESCO.

4 things to do in Toledo

  1. Admire the paintings of El Greco in the Cathedral and Sa Toma Chapel.
  2. Climb up the bell tower of the Jesuit Church and take in the surroundings.
  3. Learn a beautiful legend about the construction of Martin’s Bridge.
  4. Send a paper boat to sail on the Tagus River, so that one day it will be in Lisbon.

City of three cultures

Since for centuries Toledo has united representatives of different cultures and religions within its walls, then, like Jerusalem, the nickname “the city of three cultures” has stuck to it. Christians, Jews and Muslims have left their mark on the architecture. Most of the monuments have not survived, but even the presence of two synagogues (Santa Maria la Blanca and El Transito) out of 10 in the Jewish Quarter, two mosques (Santo Cristo de la Luz and Tornerias) out of 12 once built and a significant number of monasteries, churches and cathedrals says a lot. Moreover, the Arab influence can be traced in the structure of the city, decorative elements, the form of gates, arches and individual fragments of buildings.

A distinctive feature of many Christian religious buildings in Toledo is that most of them were erected on the site of former mosques, which, accordingly, at one time replaced the Visigothic churches. A striking example of such construction is the Gothic Cathedral. During the reign of Muslims, the Cathedral Mosque was in its place, and even earlier – a temple. The Church of St. Thomas with the famous painting by El Greco “The Funeral of the Count de Orgaz” and the Church of Santiago de Arrabal with a bell tower in the form of a minaret were also built on the site of mosques.

El Greco House Museum

In addition to religious institutions, monuments of civil architecture have survived to our time. Some of them have been reconstructed. For example, the House Museum of the famous Spanish artist El Greco, or Domenikos Theotokopoulos, a Greek by birth. The museum is located in the Jewish quarter and is built in the style of buildings from the 16th century. The fact is that after arriving in Spain, the artist soon chose Toledo as his place of residence. It was here that many famous paintings were created. In the museum, in addition to the personal belongings of the painter, you can see his paintings. Other museums in Toledo deserve attention.

Alcazar

The Alcazar Palace is another monument of civil architecture and a hallmark of the city. It has been rebuilt several times. The latest changes were made by Charles V, who considered that the tallest building in Toledo could well serve as a royal residence. However, this never happened, since the capital of Spain was moved to Madrid, and the former wives of monarchs and widows lived out their lives in the Alcazar. Now there is a military museum.

Weather

In the central part of Spain, and Toledo settled down here, the continental climate rules the ball. Here, tourists are waiting for a rather hot summer (the highest temperatures and most of the sun – in July-August) and cold winters (from December to February). It rains mercilessly in April-May, in April it is also quite windy, and in November-December, it often snows in the winter months. So the best time for sightseeing is June, September and early October: it is not hot and without precipitation.

El Greco House Museum

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