An endless fairytale! This is the most accurate way one can say in order to describe Toledo!
I have heard of him before, but I’ve never thought that one day I would be walking among its streets. This was one of my stops on the amazing and great trip to Mexico that I took with my sister and a very close friend of mine. Before we went there, we had a stay of two nights in Madrid, and I was advised by some acquaintances to visit Toledo in case I have the time to do so.
And so we did have the time!
Toledo is relatively easy to reach, and if you decide not to go with an organized group, you can do so by yourself either by bus or by train. Trains that go there leave every 30 minutes, and they depart from Atocha station. We chose to go along with a group of tourists because the tour package included a tour guide, and it is always better and nice to hear a little bit more about from a trained and qualified person. We were told that the bus leave from Plaza de España, and it was a little difficult to find exactly the place. Finally, we managed to find the spot after wandering to find it and after we had got on the bus, in approximately 40 minutes we had already moved to a completely new and different galaxy – Toledo! It was as if we were in a fairytale from the Thousand and One Nights. In front of us was an incredibly colorful city, located on a hill and surrounded by a large bend of the the Tahoe River.
Before we dive into the narrow and cobbled streets of Toledo, I want to tell you a little bit more about it.
The Visigoths, who ruled the central part of the Iberian Peninsula from the 5th to the 8th century, originally had a king named Hercules. He was known for his prophetic abilities. At the very beginning of his reign, Hercules “saw” the demise of the Visigoth kingdom and the conquest of its capital Toledo by “non-religious tribes.” He got scared and decided to prevent this prediction from coming true. He placed it in a casket, which he locked with a sturdy padlock and tossed the key. He left the order to his heirs – each king who came after him to add another padlock to the casket. Thus, with each generation of kings, the casket was locked more securely and securely until the arrival of King Rodrigo in 710. He, either out of curiosity or greed, decided to unlock the casket instead of adding a new padlock. So he released the ominous prophecy…
A year later, Toledo was conquered by the Arabs, and this was the beginning of the disappearance of the Visigoth kingdom.
ЕOne of the most ancient cities in Europe, Toledo dates back to the Bronze Age. In its thousand-year history, the city has seen a lot and has been through a lot. Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, Jews and Christians all of them left their mark on it. It is called the city of the three cultures, because for centuries Christians, Muslims and Jews have been coexisting peacefully.
It can be said that Toledo is the business card of the Middle Ages! Here you will not see tall and modern buildings or large and noisy boulevards. Time seems to have stopped and at times you have the feeling that at any moment you will hear the sounds of rattling carriages or the whistling of knight’s swords. Given that steel has been produced here for many years, you might not be surprised that many of the weapons used during the filming of films such as Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings and Alexander the Great were all crafted precisely here in Toledo!
The city was built amphitheatrically and the more we climbed, the more amazing views popped up in front of us. It feels like the city is located on a rock and that every inch of it is taken by buildings. Synagogues, mosques, churches and houses are glued together, and crowds of tourists can make you nervous at times. But this is Toledo after all and can even be defined as a scene from a painting by El Greco!
We walked a lot through the streets as we had a guide who was telling us about the history of the city and its sights. Admittedly, I wasn’t paying much attention, because even when we had to stop in one place, around us there were countless very narrow streets, buildings and views that all made you look at what is there and for a moment you forget that someone is talking to you. Passing through the Jewish Quarter we came across interesting buildings with symbols on them that reminded us of scenes from Dan Brown’s books.
We also passed the Cathedral of Toledo, which is quite impressive, given that it was built nearly 250 years ago, and its architecture is a mix of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. A little west of the cathedral is the church of Santo Tome, which houses an exceptional attraction of the city – the notorious masterpiece of El Greco “The Burial of Count Orgas”. The burial of the depicts St. Stephen and St. Augustine, who laid him in the tomb. The reception of the soul of the Count of Heaven is presented in a very ingenious way, and the identities of the gloomy figures watching the funeral are a source of endless speculation. According to many experts, El Greco portrayed himself as the seventh man on the left, as well as the count’s son in the foreground.
Mentioning El Greco, you may have guessed that here is the house-museum of the famous Spanish artist, which is located in the Jewish quarter. Dominikos Teotokopoulos, also known as El Greco (translated from Spanish: Greek), is an outstanding artist of the Renaissance, famous for his original and unique way of merging colors. After receiving his training on the islands of Crete and Italy, at the age of 35 he entered the service of the King of Spain, then moved to Toledo and spent the rest of his life there. It is here that the artist created most of his masterpieces.
The building that now houses the artist’s museum is not actually his home, as the real home where the artist lived has been destroyed in a fire. Under the initiative of the Marquis de la Vega-Inclan At the beginning of the 20th century another building was renovated that was built in the 16th century and located very close to the real home of the artist. All his personal belongings were moved to this new building are moved the personal belongings as well as some of the furniture and of course, his exclusive paintings.
After nearly 4 hours of walking, it was finally time to sit somewhere and recharge our batteries as they say. We did this in a restaurant, located on one of the streets next to the Cathedral. Between several old and made of stone buildings there was a space that was part of a restaurant and had small and quite nice tables that lay in the shade of deciduous trees. We ordered a variety of dishes – some ribs with potatoes, some beef, some seafood, accompanied of course by a glass of white wine. We enjoyed lunch as much as as the time we had spent before it.
I don’t remember if we had ordered dessert, but we decided to drink our coffee at another place that offers a good view of the city. Only I expressed desire to go to a very famous castle, which I had seen in only on photos while rummaging on the net.
So, time went on, it was almost late afternoon, and we were walking the streets again. We were passing by a lot of cafés and my sister was constantly asking me to sit somewhere, but I patiently begged them to wait a little bit longer! As we were wandered the streets to find the castle that I wanted to see, which I neither knew where it was located nor how it was called, we suddenly came across a terrace that offered an incredible view. In front of us on the right was the castle in question – Alcazar, on the left оf there was an incredible view of the Tahoe River and right in the middle – a cafe. Just like for the three of us!
I have always said that nothing is accidental, and this was another proof. We wanted to drink coffee in a nice place, I wanted to see the castle in question and the desire for all this just found its way to the place in question. We took great pictures, and the view was quite unique. With great pleasure we ordered a coffee and enjoyed it in addition to the incredible view and the setting sun. We spent almost an hour in the cafe, and the feeling was amazing. I will always remember this day because I visited one of the greatest and most important cities in Spain accompanied by amazing people. This was the beginning not only to a great trip, but also the beginning of a very nice, pure and true friendship!
We said goodbye to Toledo and took the bus back to Madrid, where night had fallen over the city’s streets and squares.
This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)