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  • Day858

    Toledo - Town, Cathedral & Synagogue

    October 11, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Built overlooking the Rio Tajo, with commanding, panoramic views, the beautiful walled-city of Toledo, south-west of Madrid, exceeded our expectations in every respect and was easily explored from our campsite 'El Greco' taking the bus in and walking back.

    A blend of Christian, Muslim and Jewish architecture and culture, with a pre-Roman history, Royal connections and El Greco art, there was so much to see and do. We started with the medieval Gothic Cathedral, which ranks among the top 10 in Spain.

    From the days of Visigothic occupation (between the Romans & Muslims), the current site of the cathedral has been a centre of worship. Even today, the Visigothic influence continues with a 6th-century liturgy that is performed daily. During Muslim rule it contained the central mosque and was then converted into a church in 1085 when the Vatican recognised Toledo as a seat of the Spanish church and still does.

    Our excellent audio-guide escorted us around the huge interior which was a feast for the eyes with rose windows, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults and pointed arches. The glittering alterpiece of painted wooden sculptures depicts the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Opposite is the choir stall, intricately carved wooden stalls from the 15th century. The Chapter House was crowned with a 500-year old wooden Mudéjar ceiling and portraits of all the archbishops of Toledo. The Sacristry contained a gallery of paintings by the likes of Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael but it is the El Greco painting 'The Disrobing of Christ' that takes centre stage, painted specifically for that spot. We have visited quite a few cathedrals and basilicas recently, but this one stole the show for us.

    That was enough culture for one day and so we wandered around the busy cobbled streets taking it all in as we made our way to the San Martin bridge where we watched people zip-line the short distance across the river. What would the rulers of old think of that!

    Our next foray into town was to visit the El Transito synagogue, built in 1355 by special permission from Pedro I. Whilst it was interesting, the whole size and presentation paled against our Cathedral visit, and so we left a little disappointed and wandered around the old Jewish quarter, home once to 10 synagogues. After the expulsion of Jews in 1492, under the Royal orders of Isabel and Fernando, the country lost a whole section of society that had provided merchants, accounts, scientists and thinkers which would take a long time to replace.

    After a pitstop for 'bocadillos iberico' (Iberian cured ham rolls) washed down with a beer and glass of wine, we headed back across the river to the campsite.
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