Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, makes for an easy day trip. It's a 45-minute bus ride from Madrid. This magnificent old city sits on top of few hills, which makes this place a marvelous scenic area to visit. Taking an escalator into a city center may be one of the more unique ways to make an entrance. We entered the historic center from Puerta de Alfonso VI, there’s an escalator that allows the steep walk to be avoided. This is one of those cities that you hear about long before you ever make the time to actually visit. When we arrived, we were not only presented with a gorgeous ancient city, but the balconies, narrow cobble stoned streets and plazas - oh my!
My first glimpse of Toledo as seen from the Puerta de Alfonso VI. The steep escalators can be seen in the lower right side.
The cultural history is reflected throughout the city’s architecture. Medieval works are found in the roads, walls, and castles, such as the Castillo de San Servando. Moorish roots are revealed in several mosques and the Toledo Cathedral, dating back to the 13th century, displays the city’s Roman Catholic history and is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in all of Spain. Museums are found throughout the city, with the Museo de Santa Cruz and El Greco Museum showcasing some of the finest works of the famous artist, El Greco.
The Church of Santiago de Arrabal greets the visitors from the Puerta de Alfonso
Lanterns and banners festoon the streets of Toledo.
Between the churches, museums, restaurants, and shops offered in Toledo you might expect to feel overwhelmed with options that couldn’t possibly be fit into a day-trip’s itinerary. But you don’t have to see every museum and cathedral here to get the most of this place. Just popping in and out of shops, walking through the tight pebbly alleyways, and marveling at the gold and brown bricked buildings — their potted plants hanging from elegantly designed Juliet balconies below their ceramic tiled roofs — will keep you captivated for hours.
Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo (Toledo Cathedral) is ranked among the greatest Gothic structures in Europe.
15th century central portal of the Toledo Cathedral. The architecture of the cathedral was inspired by the Gothic cathedrals in France. Hmmmm…..that's why this looks familiar. Almost similar to the Notre Dame Cathedral's portal.
As soon as my feet begin to tire from trekking up and down these hilly paths, it’s time to slip into one of the many cafes or restaurants found amid the labyrinth of roads. Bakeries are found throughout the city with boxes and rows of different sweets and treats presented in bright displays behind their windows, but without a doubt the most coveted of the sweets here — that every visitor to Toledo must try — is the marzipan. It’s a rich treat, made mostly of sugar, honey, and almond.
One of the bakeries selling local treats.
Toledo's oldest and one and only "grocery' where the locals buy their daily basic needs.
Toledo has a rich history in sword making. If you are interested in these, you will find decorative swords, daggers, even kitchen knives and forks in many souvenir shops. Toledo used to be renowned for it’s impressive sword and knife makers, and the Lord of the Rings movies actually used swords that were crafted in Toledo! You can also find hand painted ceramic items like flamenco dancers, Spanish bulls almost everywhere. I bought a few mementos of traditional Damascene jewelry (named for its Damascus origins) and even had the good fortune to watch an artisan tinker away at a new piece in his shop.
Inside one of the souvenir shop and factory selling swords of all kinds.
Demascene artisan busy in a shop in Toledo
One of the shops selling ceramics in Toledo
Toledo is the land of Don Quixote, the Man from La Mancha…..almost every shop in Toledo has one of this.
Fuente de San Martin (San Martin Bridge) -- this is a pedestrian bridge that was constructed in the late 14th century across river Tagus. There are defensive towers at the both end of this bridge. You can see the surrounding mountains, old buildings, and the city from this bridge.
The bell tower of Santo Tome, one of the fine example of Mudejar architecture in Toledo, is best known for housing El Greco's most famous painting - The Burial of Count Orgaz.
There is a lot to see in Toledo -–- impressive cathedrals, monasteries, temples, ancient roads, Spanish history—but it’s all within a few square miles so it really can all be done in one day. Toledo was one of my favorite parts of Spain. I will remember those tiny streets, the Toledo Cathedral that rivaled the Notre Dame in Paris, and the city walls for the rest of my life.