Toledo

Declared World Heritage by UNESCO since 1986, Toledo is a dynamic and growing city, a university center and the capital of Castilla – La Mancha.

Known as the City of Three Cultures, Toledo has been a universal model of coexistence and tolerance of ethnic groups and religions for centuries. It is also the imperial capital of Charles V, the town of El Greco, a convent city, metropolis of esotericism and legends, the capital of Visigoth Spain, head of the Route de Don Quixote, a lively market and a world leader in wine and gastronomy.

The city of Toledo deserves the attention of art lovers. The capital, full of suggestions, has a valuable artistic and architectural heritage, with more than a hundred monuments. Artistic remains of the most varied cultures and periods are distributed through its streets and squares. Many characters left their mark in Toledo such as El Greco, author of the masterpiece “El entierro del Conde de Orgaz ” one of the most renowned paintings of the artist.

Main Buildings

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Santa María Cathedral

The Cathedral, consecrated to the Assumption of Mary, begins to build in 1227 on the remainder of a Visigothic cathedral (S. VI), which was used as a mosque. The collection of paintings is also very important, especially the excellent collection at the Sacristy, with “Espolio” and “El Apostolado” of El Greco, Goya paintings, Caravaggio and much more. It is very interesting to climb one of the towers in Toledo that reveal from above the roofs of the cathedral forming a perfect cross surrounded by air flying buttresses marked by slender pinnacles. Only then, or from the viewpoints of the Valley, you can appreciate the magnificence and complexity of this unique building, hidden in the middle of the urban fabric.

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Alcázar

“El Alcázar” of Toledo is near the Cathedral, the most representative symbol of the city. Existed in the Middle Ages, although it was rebuilt in the sixteenth century. It is placed at a strategic point in the city. The current building was built by the Emperor Charles V, for a dignified residence as monarch. However, the new palace did not become a king’s palace, because the capital was established in Madrid. He had a special relevance in the Spanish Civil War, which suffered a major siege by Republican troops, coming to an almost complete destruction. Today, it is rebuilt and restored and it houses the National Army Museum and the Library of Castilla-La Mancha.

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Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo, is one of the most spectacular works of Gothic architecture in Spain. Located in the Jewish Quarter, was ordered by the Catholic Monarchs to commemorate the Battle of Toro and to be the future site for burial. The church was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, a saint the queen was so devoted of. Pay attention to the chains hanging on the exterior walls of the church. Correspond to the captives released and posted there in 1494, as offerings and symbol of the triumph of the Christian faith.

Cuisine

The richness of the Toledo cuisine is especially based on meat.

There are various stews partridge, pickled or stewed, the first of which can be consumed cold, and the second, tipycal from Toledo, is slowly cooked with onion, garlic and a bay leaf. Another dish well known in the city is the popular “carcamusas”, and there is a great variety of combinations of plates with rabbit.

There are some dishes that serve as the beginning of a meal: garlic soup or gazpacho, a cold soup associated with warm days of spring and summer. Toledo has also good wines and cheese. Do not miss them. Besides there is a wide array of deserts and sweets. The most famous one is “Mazapan”.

Handicraft

There are many souvenir shops in Toledo. All of them include some specialized ancestral craftsmanship items. The best known are the “Damasquinado” and the swordmaking.

The tradition of Toledo steel art has always been legendary. The best swords of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were from Toledo. The legend tells that the Tajo river attributed the most miraculous quality properties to the swords.

In some workshops in Toledo, magnificent reproductions of swords or sabers as famous as those of Alfonso VI, Boabdil, El Cid, Napoleon, King Arthur, Charles V, which currently are widely accepted in the international market, can be appreciated.

Damascene

Another traditional art linked to Toledo is damascene. A technique that consists of drawings shapes of gold or silver inside the damascene. Its beautiful results have become a symbol of Toledo throughout its history.

Ceramics

The ceramic tradition of the city of Toledo goes back to the eleventh century. There were abundant jars, lamps, fountains, jars and bottles. Decoration was made based on glass coloured with iron oxide, copper, manganese, etc. and the unique decorations with the “cuerda seca”.

Wood

The characteristic furniture of Toledo, present in many old houses, is the “Bargueño”. Typical from the XVI century, it is often made as a bureau, but it can also be found in chairs, tables, doors, etc.

Forging

Another art that have singular presence in the city of Toledo is iron or steel forging. Historical Gates as the ones in the railway station or the doors and balconies of the houses of the old part of town as well as traditional torches of Corpus Christi are good examples.

International Tourist Festivities

For centuries the narrow streets of the Old Quarter accommodate the religious festival of “Corpus Christi”, declared of International Tourist Interest.

During these days the streets are covered with carpets of thyme, rosemary and lavender. The flowers and tapestries hang on the walls and give to the city a colouring parade. These days are the ideal time to visit the traditional courtyards as they are open to the public.

In the Spring, also declared of International Tourist Interest, the Semana Santa shows some of the most unique processional paces in Spain.