Toledo

Toledo is a beautiful medieval city, half an hour away by train from Madrid. I had already planned on going there before the start of my trip and it was later also recommended by a friend. The place kept reminding me of Siena in Italy, Brugge in Belgium and Coimbra in Portugal because of its hilliness, the narrow stone studded streets and beautiful architecture that somehow withstood the test of time! But of course, each of these places have their distinctive features. Here – it was the influence of Arabic architecture in Jewish and Christian buildings.

So after missing the first train despite being early, as its tickets got sold out, I had to wait one hour at the station to get the next one! In hindsight, it might have been better to take the bus instead (which I took for returning). The buses run every 10 mins!

Nonetheless, I reached with hardly any time to spare to go for the walking tour that I had planned. Took the public bus to reach the venue just in time to catch up with the group which was about to leave. Here’s the view from the public bus on my way up to the main square.

Going towards the city center

The tour began with the guide giving an overview of the town’s history (which I missed but then caught up later). It’s been in existence since around one or two centuries Before Christ. The Carpetani, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and finally Christians again – quite a history!

We stopped at a place that used to be a mosque and later was turned into a church but since the artisans were Muslims (the Jews, Muslims and Christians – all stayed in harmony for quite some time) the architecture of parts constructed later was also of the Arabic style.

The church which was originally a mosque

It’s worthwhile to be in Toledo early and spend the whole day getting lost in its lanes and looking at all the sights a bit leisurely instead of the rushing I had to do because of that missed train!

Anyway, we passed through the Cathedral, the church of the Jesuits, and from a view point saw the Synagogue El Transito, El Greco Museum to name a few. The whole city is studded with monuments.

Once done with the tour, I went in search of some food. Found a vegetarian place finally, despite google telling me “you have arrived” and me not finding it neither to my left nor to the right! The food was quite alright and portion huge.

Then I made my way back to the Jewish quarter to look at two synagogues – El Transito and Santa Maria la Blanca. They had been recommended by the guide to be seen to compare the architecture styles. It was indeed quite interesting to see that the second one looked more like a mosque. That’s because most of the craftsmen were Muslims from Moorish times, who were allowed to stay there by the Christian rulers.

El Transito
Santa Maria la Blanca

Prior to seeing the two synagogues, I went inside the El Greco museum which was on the way. Amazing artworks on display there.

I didn’t have too much time after all these so I decided to go inside the Cathedral.

The Cathedral

It’s so huge that it’s quite impossible to take a proper picture from the narrow streets. Armed with the audio guide I explored the Cathedral but couldn’t find any way to go to the top (not that I had any energy left to climb the stairs anyway!). Funnily, my brain has decided to forget everything that the audio guide explained. All I remember is what the tour guide told us about the Cathedral like the story of the Bell that legend says broke on the first day of its ringing (being so loud that it could be heard till Madrid, windows getting shatterer and a pregnant woman going into labor to name a few effects of the Bell 😀).

Then I made my way down towards the Jesuit church but again, didn’t climb up the tower despite the recommendation.

Decided it was time to go, went down the town via escalators that I had read about online and finding them by chance. Found the bus stop and took the bus back to Madrid. Found some “serendipitious” stuff but look for it in the next post.

For now, I should probably go and get some breakfast! Adios amigos y amigas!

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