Holy Toledo!

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Last year we spent Easter week (Semana Santa) in our hometown of Granada.  This year we decided to change things up and experience it in a different part of the country.  With some friends from the U.S. in tow, we made a week-long trek to the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León.

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The Cathedral and Alcázar dominate the skyline.

Our first stop was in the medieval city of Toledo.  The accommodation was in the heart of the old town where we had a unique vantage point of the nightly processions that would pass below our balconies.

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The Virgin with a raincoat.

The first came on a rainy night but that didn’t stop the umbrella-toting participants.

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The following night at about 1:00 o’clock in the morning provided one of the more unexpected and magical moments of the entire trip.

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Another highlight was the Military Museum located in the Alcázar – the 4 pointed building that sits atop the city.

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“For my rule and for my king”

Our kids had a great time wondering the rooms and envisioning themselves in the armor and wielding the brutal weapons.

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The town has a history of production of bladed arms which are now by far the most popular souvenirs found in the city.

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Toledo is also home to their adopted artist son, El Greco.  Originally born in Crete, he eventually moved to Spain as part of the Spanish Renaissance where he created one of my favorite paintings.  It’s housed in the (relatively) unassuming Church of Santo Tomé.  They don’t allow photographs of the work but I did sneak a quick clip in the video embedded above.  I like it so much I’ve included a picture here.

El Greco - The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
El Greco – The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (source)

Like Granada, Toledo was under Moorish rulers from the 8th century until it was captured by Christian forces in 1085.

DSC_3952It was a significant blow to the Arabs since it was the first major city in Al-Andalus to be lost to the Christians.  It would take over 400 years before Granada would fall to those same forces and mark the end of the Reconquista.

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Prominent images of Castilla – La Mancha

Overall Toledo makes a great to place for a visit.  It’s accessible from several directions and could be day trip from Madrid (although I would recommend spending at least one night to get a full feel for the city).

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The sights are top notch, good Spanish food can be found, and there is plenty to do to keep busy for a couple of days.

How about you?  Have you been to Toledo?  What was your impression?

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4 thoughts on “Holy Toledo!”

  1. Wow! It looks like you had a ton of fun in Toledo. I remember walking around there – there’s so much history in Toledo. I also remember a bunch of the boys buying swords while we were there.

    “The town has a history of production of bladed arms which are now by far the most popular souvenirs found in the city.”

    Who doesn’t dream about wielding a sword and having a lot of fun?

    It looks like you’re having a great time!

    1. Yep, we’ve been fortunate to be able to see quite a bit of Spain outside of Andalusia during our time here. Your comment reminds me that I need to follow up with my friend who ended up ordering a sword or two. I want to see what they look like mounted in his basement!

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