Toledo is an old and beautiful city. It is known as the “city of the three cultures” for it’s history of Muslim, Jewish and Christian peaceful cohabitation for centuries. There are churches, palaces, castles, fortresses, mosques and synagogues behind the medieval walls that surround the old town on the hill. Toledo, a World Heritage Site, is like an open-air museum, you don’t even need to venture inside the plethora of historically significant structures to feel like you have been steeped in history.
We toured Toledo Cathedral mostly because we admired it from our terrace and it helped us find our apartment when we were lost in the maze of Toledo’s quaint and confusing streets. We could look for the tower or if that failed, we followed the signs. The Cathedral, believe it or not, is interesting in its own rite beyond being our cairn. It was built from 1226 to 1493 and stands on the site of the Great Mosque of Toledo which replaced a Visigothic Church. Many important events have been hosted in the Cathedral including the proclamation of Joanna the Mad and her husband Phillip the Handsome as heirs to the throne of Spain, which was of no significance to me until this morning when I received an email from my father-in-law who thought I might like a quote that is sometimes attributed to Charles V (son of Joanna and Phillip), “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to Woman, French to men and German to my horse.” I liked the quote, but loved the names of Charles’ parents and then they come popping up in the history of Toledo Cathedral. I told Grant the story of the strangely named parents and asked him what his parents’ names should be. He thought mine might be “Crazy Daisy.”
The Cathedral is huge and beyond my limited photography abilities. This was my favorite room.
Scott and I took a quick look into the Museum of Visigothic Councils and Culture. I wanted to see the arches inside of this 13th century building that was once the Mudéjar church of San Román. The museum is dedicated to preserving and displaying the historic and artistic remains of the Visigoths, who made Toledo the capital of their kingdom.
We really enjoyed wandering in Toledo. It was easy to get lost but there was always something beautiful to see around the next corner.
Like this interesting garden
Lots of courtyards, intricately designed wooden doors and cobblestones
Cars actually drive through these narrow alleys.
We spent a lot of time wandering around the outside of the old city as well. This is one of the entrances to historic part of town.
This is another entrance. You can see the Arabic influence in the arches.
St. Martin’s Bridge, one of two bridges into the historic part of Toledo, is a medieval bridge over the river Tagus.
The Tagus River loops around the hill that Toledo was built on. This picture is taken from St. Martin’s Bridge (this view is behind Grant on the far side of the bridge in the picture above). There is a trail that follows the edge of the river most of the way around the bottom of the hill that Toledo is built on. The trail also goes for miles away from the city in both directions. It is evident that at some time in the past a lot of money and effort went into this “nature trail” but much of it had a sort of “seedy part of town feel” with graffiti on once nice benches and signs and even parts of the trail have been gated off.
This is the other and older bridge into Toledo, Alcantara Bridge (alcantara meaning bridge in Arabic), built by the Romans in the First Century.
Sticks are always a fun addition to any walk.
We saw this bridge in the distance from the old part of Toledo and decided to try and hike to it.
We found some Roman Circus ruins complete with graffiti on the way.
We saw another bridge in the distance and decided to find it too, of course it involved hiking on the highway (my favorite) but we did make it to the bridge.
We crossed one more bridge on our way back. The modern part of the city is in the background.
On the red bridge (the picture above) which is part of the nature trails with old Toledo in the background.
We took this picture after we crossed the red bridge and if you look carefully you can see all three of the bridges that we walked to in our little bridge tour.
We encountered this padlocked gate along the trail and had to backtrack.
Back in the old part of town we took a few laps trying to get our bearings. We realized we were walking in circles because we kept passing this fellow.
Toledo definitely has something for everyone. There is enough history and historical sites to keep the history buff busy for a very long time. There is beauty everywhere you look both man made and natural. There are ample opportunities for exercise with all of the steps and trails and time one spends being lost. It is also a shopping mecca for pottery, knives of all kinds (and scissors and any cutting implement imaginable), Damascene art (inlaying gold and silver into designs cut in non precious metal)that decorates jewelry and all kinds of objects and everything medieval (think swords and knights and things). Many people make Toledo a day trip from somewhere else, but it’s definitely worth taking enough time to get lost there and see what you find.