A visit to Toledo Spain is a must for first time visitors to the country and especially those visiting Madrid, the Capital of Spain.
If your time is limited, you may dedicate at least one day to visit this amazing ancient city with so much history. Now with the high speed train it takes around 30 minutes to get there from Madrid.
Toledo has been designated as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was once the Capital of Spain and you can still feel the atmosphere felt on other European Capitals.
Walking the narrow streets of the old city is like walking through history. Since it is one of the most visited places in Spain it may be sometimes a little crowded with tourists from all over the world.
Try to schedule your visit during weekdays and if at all possible during low season.
The narrow streets of the city of Toledo are full of history
City of Toledo Spain
During the 13th Century Toledo was one of the few places in the Iberian Peninsula where Moors, Christian and Jews lived together in supposed harmony.
This is why you may see, as you visit the city, many churches, mosques and synagogues as a reminder of those days.
It is located near the River Tajo, known as Tagus in English, south of Madrid and became a walled city during the Roman occupation.
Later the Visigoths named Toledo their capital and when the Spaniards regained control it was the official residence of the Spanish Kings and Queens until the 1500s.
The altar and interiors of the Toledo Cathedral
What to see in Toledo Spain
This is one of the most symbolic monuments in Toledo used as a fortress by Romans Visigoths, Arabs and Christians.
It was the home of King Alfonso VI with the help of the most prestigious architects and artists of the era.
It was destroyed several times, being the last time during the Spanish Civil War and since then it was fully refurbished.
• Toledo Cathedral
The Cathedral was built by San Eugenio, the first Bishop of Toledo. It was destroyed during the 15th century and rebuilt on the old cathedrals foundation.
The Moors, during their occupation, converted it into a mosque and then converted back to a church by Alfonso VI
• Monastery Cisterciense de Santo Domingo de Silos
This is where the famous artist El Greco is buried. The Spanish artist of Greek origin painted the church which is inhabited today by monks.
• Puerta Bisagra
This is the main entrance to the walled city of Toledo. It is actually two gates instead of one. The first was built by the Moors during the 6th and 7th centuries and the second one which extended the original was buily during the 16th century by the Catholics.
Today it is the best place to start your visit since there is ample parking space nearby and a Tourist Office at the entrance.
Map of Toledo and its closeness to Madrid Spain
Synagogues in Toledo
• Sinagoga El Transito is a 13th century Synagogue that holds a museum of Jewish History of Toledo, with exhibits showing the great influence of the Jews on cultural and local events of Toledo then.
• Sinagoga Santa Maria La Blanca is a former Synagogue that holds a crafts museum with many exhibits on pottery and wooden crafts.
• Taller del Moro was built in the 14th century by the Jews and, when they were expelled from Toledo, converted by a religious order into a church. The original Hebrew writings on the upper walls can still be seen today.
For more information visit the Spanish Tourism Office
El Transito Synagogue is one of the main attractions in Toledo Spain
Museums in Toledo
• Museum of El Greco: The famous Spanish painter El Greco lived in this house which today has an impressive exhibition of El Greco paintings, as well as exhibits of other artists.
• Museum of Contemporary Art is set in la Casa de las Cadenas, an interesting 16th century building. This art gallery has exhibitions of 20th century artists.
• Museum of Santa Cruz is a 16th century building that used to be a hospital with a lovely patio and stairway. It features works of art, tapestries and artifacts found in archeological excavations.
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is one of El Greco's main paintings
• Museum of the Fundación Duque de Lerma is also known as Hospital de Tavera because Cardinal Tavera ordered it to be built during the 1500s. There is a statue of Tavera under the dome of the church.
• Museum de los Concilios y Cultura Visigoda: with exhibits from the Visigoth period, set in the church of San Román.
• Museum Parroquía de Santo Tomé is the museum where El Greco's most famous painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz) is exhibited
The Alcazar in the background is one of Toledo's famous landmarks
Please hear my advice, go to Toledo Spain for a memorable and unforgettable experience. In my Travel agent times I used to take all my groups visiting Spain and especially Andalusia on a day tour to Toledo.
toledo spain by orval rochefort
cathedral by marisa lr
synagogue by vitold mirator
alcazar by tamoolan
entierro by j.m.theotocopuli
All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons