When in Spain: Toledo

Toledo is a city in Spain where it feels like you’re being brought back in time. It’s the historic capital of the Castilla La Mancha region located in central Spain and a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural significance to the country.

The city of 3 cultures

Backed by its rich history, Toledo is a city where Christian, Jewish, and Muslim influences co-existed despite the differences in their respective traditions and beliefs. It traces back 92 BC when the Romans first occupied Toledo who introduced Christianity.
The Visigoths came next, followed by the Moors who inserted Muslim influence in the city. It's said to be the dark times, however, as blood shed between Moors and Christians in Toledo.

The Christians overruled that eventually made Toledo more peaceful, a time in Toledan history called the “Golden Era." It was when the Moors built great architecture, the Jews arrived and held positions in the government, and Toledo became the seat of the Catholic Church–probably the best time when the 3 cultures existed all at the same time.

Toledo now and what to see around

Gone are the days when different cultures clashed. When you move around Toledo now, you can see these 3 altogether, making up a culturally rich city. And despite the test of time, a lot of its history has been physically kept. 

For one, this is the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo, or simply known as the Toledo Cathedral. It’s one of the long standing proofs of Christian influence in the city where construction started early in 1226. It’s a huge church with Gothic style of architecture.
Not too far from the cathedral is this Ayuntamiento de Toledo or the Toledo City Hall. It’s an old medieval-looking building that looks very similar to the rest of the structures in the area. In front of the city hall is a spacious public square or plaza, which serves as a common meeting place or starting point of group tours in Toledo.
Located at the peak of Toledo, the Alcázar de Toledo is a square-shaped fortress with towers on 4 corners. Back in the day, during Roman Empire, it served as a watch tower against intruders. Now, it serves as the Army Museum of Toledo and is open to the public with an entrance fee of EUR 5 for non-EU visitors.

Toledo is beautifully seated on top of a hill. It's also surrounded by the Tagus River, the longest river in Iberian peninsula that extends up to its neighboring country Portugal. These go to show that Toledo isn't only rich in history, but also gifted with nature. A picturesque panoramic view can be enjoyed almost everywhere, especially at a viewing point called in Spanish as the mirador. 

What to buy from Toledo


It’s said that a trip to Toledo won’t be complete without even trying or bringing home a box of mazapán (marzipan), the most popular Christmas dessert in Spain. These cookies are sold all year round in Toledo, a testament of the strong and long tradition that started as early as the 1500s.
Also, Toledo is pioneer in sword making and steel working. It began as early as 500 BC when Hannibal, a Roman warrior, used Toledan swords during the Punic Wars and won. From then on, Toledo supplied quality swords and other war weapons to the Romans. Up to now, steel shops are a common sight in Toledo. Steel products vary, from big to small, and are popular souvenir items.

How to get there

Toledo is a perfect side trip coming from the capital, Madrid. I myself spent a day in Toledo then returned Madrid in the afternoon. The best way to go there is by bus. Aside from the fact that it only takes 1 to 1.5-hour ride, it's also very accessible as daily buses from Madrid to Toledo (vice versa) are available. 
In Madrid, the bus station is located at Plaza Eliptica and the bus stops at Toledo Bus Station in Toledo. One-way bus ticket costs EUR 5.47 that can actually be booked online and in advance via Spain's reliable bus company ALSA

What do you think about Toledo's 3 cultures? Do you find Toledo as your next travel destination?






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