Historic towns, Life of adventure, Road Trips, Travelling between housesits

City of Three Cultures – Toledo

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Chattering people and the clanging church bells distracted me from my early morning read.  Looking towards where the noise was coming from rewarded us with a spectacular sunrise unfolding behind the old city.

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Then the sun was out, the air crisp and fresh, we were ready to stroll down more of the tiny alleyways, a city that was indeed very beautiful and unique.

This was the beginning of our first full day exploring Toledo.

Firstly a brief summary.  

  • Toledo was the medieval capital of Spain until the kings decided to move their court to Madrid.
  • The Cathedral of Toledo is the second richest temple in the world after Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

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  • It’s one of the most famous cities in the country because of its diverse history.
  • Emperor Carlos V once said in 1556 that Toledo is a place where the sun never sets and he might just be onto something.
  • Santa María La Blanca Synagogue which is now a museum and owned by the Spanish Catholic Church [see below link for more information.

    Toledo Synagogue

  • The architecture of this walled town is very unique in Spain and is likely due to being slated as the “City of the Three Cultures”, having been influenced by a historical co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Jews before 1085.

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Our exploring was made much more comfortable with the discovery of an escalator, resulting in a pleasurable walking time for the Squire.  When the escalator was built, it meant a section of the centuries-old fortifications had to be bulldozed so the old and new could meld into an unobtrusive and sculptural egress. Many historians must have cringed at the thought of the first destruction, their medieval ramparts breached by shiny stainless steel, but the resulting structure is perfect, and it works. The reconstructed walls look as if no stones were touched, while the escalators sinuously [Just to impress, I’m learning a few new words] wind their way through and behind them. At peak usage, you can use your imagination to gauge how many people a day would ride those escalators. That is a fantastic accomplishment.

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Now that we were up amongst the mass of other tourists, after using the escalators, we chose to wander around the streets in search of a more local artisan experience, than the thousands of tourist items made in China.  This was satisfied when we were approached by a friendly young man who shared information regarding a co-operative artisan place that is opened for a few hours today, and it just happened to be his workplace.

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Okay it was apparent to us he was looking at bringing more tourists to his workplace, and of course we obliged, in the end, we were pleased we took up his impromptu invite.  As it was one of the highlights of our visit to Toledo.

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The entrance, which was somewhat understated to what little treasures that were being created in this building.  Below is one of the skilled craftsmen at work, while to the side his workmate was explaining in detail what was being done.

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CRAFTER

It really did feel like an honour to be there watching how the jewellery was made.

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Totally mesmerised, we put the map away, kept walking and wholly lost ourselves in the streets of Toledo.  Sometimes that just feels the right thing to do in some cities.  Toledo was one such city.

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Links for more information on Toledo, as it was impossible to cover all aspects of this city in one short visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledo,_Spain

http://www.spainisculture.com/en/monumentos/toledo/sinagoga_de_santa_maria_la_blanca.html

https://www.britannica.com/place/Toledo-Spain

http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/otros-destinos/toledo.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/08/we-want-action-call-to-return-former-toledo-synagogue-to-jewish-community

 

99 thoughts on “City of Three Cultures – Toledo”

  1. You captured the city beautifully. It made me want to go there. And I agree, there are times when you simply must put the map away and just wander. So glad you shared it with us. I found your blog through your guest post on Retirement Reflections.

    ~Christie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your photos are incredible, Suz! What a beautiful city, it seems. And, I agree, just strolling around without maps is sometimes the best and most satisfying way to see a city. More spontaneous, more flexible, more relaxed. Are/were you house sitting close by?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH you are a darling thanks for your supportive comments. Yes, we have had a housesit near Alicante for the last 5 days. Lottie’s parent is about due home in 1/2 hour. We lead such structured and organised lives when housesitting it is a welcome change just to be more spontaneous in between housesits.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we too have seen a few places in Spain none similar to Toledo. It was a very interesting place and also a touristy one. Though we don’t particularly enjoy touristy destinations it was worth a visit for it’s unique culture. Plus, close to Madrid after a long haul flight. All up a win-win situation.

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  3. Lovely pictures and account. I remember visiting Toledo years ago for a business conference, but unfortunately only got one evening free to explore. Certainly worth a return visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a spectacular city! The architecture there is just amazing. Your pictures were beautiful, and I loved that you were able to explore the little artisan shop where the jewelry was made. I agree with you, these are the most memorable experiences. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Suz your pictures just get better and better. Totally capture the beauty of this city. Love that you put the map away and wandered the streets could see you and the squire embracing the beautiful old streets. Will be adding this to my list for my next trip to Spain! Hope your well xx

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        1. Yes it is getting chilly even in Spain 🙂 I don’t think we appreciate our birth countries as much as a new visitor. NZ is beautiful and I also see so many flaws living there. As with most places though at the moment we are loving living over in Europe. Starting our third year this December, how time has gone by fast!!!

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  6. Oh my goodness an outdoor escalator!? That is so cool! I’d love that if if meant that travel companions would have a bit more energy for exploring the back streets once you make it up high! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is wonderful timing. My wife and I are planning to hike the Camino de Santiago next spring and then tour Spain (and Italy) afterwards. We were wondering which cities might be interesting to visit, so this is perfect. Toledo sounds fascinating. The photos are wonderful. I’m sold 😉

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    1. Wonderful Gabe, we know a few people who have completed this walk which no doubt challenged them in more ways than one. We are in Spain for approximately 3 months so I shall have a few more posts coming up. Mostly in the South though we are hoping to venture up to the North. Italy will be another country worth exploring. Spring won’t be so hot! Good time to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The only Toledo I’ve ever visited is the one in Ohio. This one is far, far more beautiful! I love those lucky interactions like you had with the artist that lead to unique experiences.

    It’s hard to picture how those escalators could possibly blend in with the ancient walls… I don’t think any of your photos showed them, did they? Or, maybe they blended in so well I missed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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