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  • Day11

    Recorriendo Toledo

    February 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    El lunes a la mañana partimos hacia Toledo, la ciudad que en el pasado fue la capital del reino de España.

    Llegamos a las 10 y recorrimos la plaza de Zocodover, el Alcazar y el puente de Alcantara. Cerca del mediodia salimos a conocer los monumentos mas importantes con una historiadora que nos conto mucho acerca de las tres culturas de la ciudad.
    Vimos iglesias y conventos, pero tambien mezquitas y sinagogas. Hasta pudimos ver ruinas romanas.

    Nos parecio a todos increiblemente hermosa y mucho mas grande de lo que imaginabamos.
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  • Day11

    En los museos de Brujeria y de Armas

    February 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Recorriendo las callecitas de la ciudad, descubrimos un par de museos que nos dio ganas de visitar.

    El primero fue el de Brujeria, donde vimos pocimas, formulas para hechizos, venenos, animales disecados, momias y pequeños esqueletos de animales tenebrosos.

    Es siguiente fue un museo de armas de asedio medieval, donde vimos catapultas, torres de asedio, trabucos y otras maquinas de guerra.
    Tambien habia unos calabozos que, como el museo estaba en la casa historica de una hermandad de caballeros, eran calabozos reales.

    Terminamos cansados y ya terminaba el paseo por el dia.
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  • Day11

    Vistas de la ciudad de Toledo

    February 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Tanto al llegar como al salir de la ciudad, las vistas son increibles. Cada curva o subida mas linda que la anterior.

    Pero las mejores vistas las tuvimos desde el Parador donde nos quedamos, justo frente a la ciudad y con una vista abierta sobre el casco historico.Read more

  • Day188


    November 28, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    We spent a day looking around this city, which used to be the capital city of Spain until Madrid took over in the 1500s.
    It is quite a place, with a rich roman history. We parked overnight just outside the northern walls of the old city. The old city is built high on a hill dominating the surrounding plain on one side and protected by a gorge on the other. It is crammed full of churches, all massive, and they seem to be on every corner.
    The Alcazar is now home to a modern military museum and the city library. It is massive and dominates the sky line along with the cathedral.
    I was hoping for a good look at the roman aquaduct, but it has long perished with just a trace of it left one the side of the gorge, however there are some interesting remains of the old roman circus near to where we parked up.
    The old city was quiet quiet and seemed to be full of walking tours and Japanese visitors. If you want to buy a sword this is the place to come.
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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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  • Day857

    Toledo - Alcázar, military museum

    October 10, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Before we went to the military museum, I mentioned to Chris that I wasn't sure I would find it as interesting as he would. How wrong was I. We spent 5 hours there and only saw a third of it!

    Built at the highest point in the city, the museum is composed of two buildings; the Alcázar, a fortress dating from the 10th century of Abd a-Rahman III, which houses the permanent exhibition of which there are three different itineraries to follow, and a brand new building built around an archaeological site housing the temporary exhibitions, auditorium, cafe and library.

    We chose to do the Historical Tour, eight halls over two floors, showcasing the History of the Spanish Army as an integral part of the History of Spain. We also did a little bit of the Thematic Tour by accident when we lost each other!

    We started with the Spanish Monarchy 1492 and went right through to the 20th century. The modern museum has been superbly put together with everything well explained in both Spanish and English with plenty of inter-active additional information. Incorporated into the building are live fragments from the Alcázar history such as the Charles V courtyard, Imperial Chapel and stone spiral staircases.

    We learned that Toledo was home to the Royal Armoury for bladed, sharp weapons of war. Suddenly the penny dropped, now we understood why so many shops were selling replica swords, daggers and other dangerous, sharp objects!

    The History of Spain and its former world glory days was very well explained but in some ways must leave the Spanish visitors disappointed that it isn't the powerhouse it once was.

    The Dukes of Medinaceli collection (that we stumbled on by mistake) was a fantastic display of pristine, shiny armour for both man and horse. How those horses could move with all that weight is unbelievable as they wore plenty of armour themselves. It was interesting that many suits of armour were pierced with holes on the right breast plate. No doubt the right-handed jousters they faced were experts.

    There were plenty of uniforms to admire and it was noticeable just how short and slight most of the bodies that they adorned were.

    By the time an announcement was made advising closing time, we were 'informationed-out' but had thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

    We really look forward to our next visit to Toledo to see more of this wonderful place.
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  • Day22

    Walking around the walls of Toledo

    July 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Toledo is entirely encircled by massive medieval and Roman walls, just like the old city of Jerusalem. It is a citadel of considerable size. It sits on a steep hill with a river bend sweeping around it much lower in the valley. The fortress would have been impregnable. The gates and towers can be climbed and the views are spectacular.

    I went for a walk right around the city. It took about one and a half hours to get right around but it was worth it for the amazing views of this magnificent city.
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  • Day22

    Alcazar of Toledo

    July 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

    The Royal Palace (Alcazar) of Toledo sits prominently on top of the hill which is completely encircled by medieval walls and gates which enclose the old city. Our hotel is right in the centre of the old city. The walls and gates around us remind me distinctly of those in Jerusalem.

    It is only a short walk from our hotel to the Alcazar. We set off for what we thought was going to be a visit for 1-2 hours. It took four hours. The Alcazar has, since 2010, housed the main museum of the Spanish Army. It is a War Museum of the whole of Spain's military history from ancient times until the present. There are about seven floors of exhibits moving more recent in time as one climbs higher in the Palace. It is similar in size and scope to the French military museum in Paris.

    It was a revelation to Sam to see that a country could have a military history spanning not just a few centuries but more than two millenia. The complex military history of Spain was somewhat clearer after spending over four hours moving from ancient Roman Spain to the present, but it is a complicated history. One thing is clear, the history of Spain, like so many other European nations, is a history of war, bloodshed, power struggles, empire-building, victories and defeats.

    The Spanish military history includes: Roman invasion an empire, Visigoth invasion and empire, Christians, Moors and muslims of various kinds and their empire, the Catholic invasion and their empire, the Spanish expansion beginning with Columbus into the new world in South America, but also later into other areas like the Philippines who were a Spanish colony, the Napoleanic Invasion, Austrian Hapsburg invasion and empire, the Spanish civil war of the early 20th century, the Franco dictatorship which lasted from 1940 till 1975, then a parliamentary democracy with a monarchy restored. All that and more. And everything explained and exhibited in this amazing museum.

    The weapons, military paraphernalia, uniforms and tactics were all displayed from each period. It began with Roman weapons and armour, right through medieval, moorish, renaissance, to more modern weapons and uniform. An incredible collection. It is hard to fathom how many suits of armour, swords, spears, pikes, pistols, muskets, rifles, cannons, artillery of all kinds were in this collection. Amazing. Very educational. I can only imagine how interesting it would be to teach history in this country and be able to bring the students to such a place to see the artefacts.

    The building in which this museum is housed is a sight in itself. It is a palace with four huge towers on each corner. It stands out on the city skyline. The foundations were laid by the Romans in the first and second century. Since then there have been many iterations of this fortress in that very place, and many of the walls have been excavated and these also are on display deep below the current floor level of the palace, three-four levels below ground.

    It was a fantastic experience going through the museum. Sam and I got mentally fatigued trying to take it all in. But it was a revelation.

    Toledo is the location where the weapons factory for Spain was located. It is famous for its knives, swords, armour and weapons made from metal. Toledo steel is famous and all the tourist shops sell swords, armour, pistols, rifles, muskets as souvenirs. There are more swords in this town than people. It is extraordinary. There are enough weapons in the tourist shops here to arm and entire regiment. Sam is quite keen to buy some swords and pistols but I am not sure how customs woulr view them in Sydney airport.
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  • Day21

    Arriving in Toledo

    July 18, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Toledo is a spectacular town. Driving towards the city on the hill is a memorable experience due to the impressive fort and cathedral on the hill, along with all the other old buildings. The whole old part of the city is declared at World Heritage Site by Unesco. This town goes back to Roman times, but the medieval buildings are most impressive. It is one of the nicest places we have visited.

    Our hotel room is very spacious. It has three rooms and has a fridge, stove, dishwasher and clothes washer. It is really an apartment on the top storey of a Medival style building. There is also a terrace from which I can see the palace and the cathedral. Great spot!

    I went for a wander around the old city, which is on a hill so it is quite steep in parts. Once again there is a Jewish Quarter (Juderia) in this city. All these old Spanish towns have had a Jewish Quarter, where the Jews lived and thrived before the tragic expulsion and persecution of the 14th and 15th centuries.

    There are three synagogues in Spain which date from the period before the expulsion in 1492. One was in Cordoba, which was closes but I was able to see from the outside, and the other two are here in Toledo. It is amazing to see two synagogues which date from the early medieval period in one town in Spain.

    The first synagogue has been converted into a church. It is known and the Synagogue de Santa Maria de Blanca. The second synagogue is now a Sephardic Museum and which looks really interesting. Both were closed this evening so I was only able to view them from outside, but I hope to return to them tomorrow to see them inside.

    The Jewish Quarter has been marked by the Jews with all these little tiles on the streets with little Jewish symbols - little menorahs, little snippets of Hebrew, little Sephardic symbols and also signs that tell you that you are in the Jewish Quarter. There are hardly any Jews living in Toledo today, but the Jews have let everyone know that they were here and they don't want people to forget how badly they were treated.

    There is a little shop next to one of the synagogues that has a reminder message of the dry bones of Ezekiel 37 to highlight that despite the persecutions and expulsions, the Jews are still here and not going away.

    The sunset over the valley in Toledo this evening was spectacular. We had Maccas for dinner, just to be classy, and to keep Sam happy.
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  • Day22

    Two medieval synagogues

    July 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Two out of the three synagogues that remain intact in Spain from the Medieval period are here in Toledo. The third is in Cordoba where were yesterday. At about 5 pm I walked to the Jewish Quarter to investigate both.

    The first synagogue I went into is called the Synagogue of El Transito. Originally it was built by Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia and it was joined to his palatial home as his personal place of worship. He was from a very prominent family of Jews who had been served the Castillian kings for many generations and had grown rich and powerful. The founder eventually lost favour of the royal family and he was executed when things went sour for the Jews. It was first built in 1356, just prior to the persecution of the Jews commencing in Spain.

    The synagogue was very large and built in a unique style which incorporated Muslim elements. In fact, the stucco wall decorations are in the Mudejar style similar to the ornate Al Hambra in Granada. The wooden ceiling is ornate and clearly influenced by Moorish style. It is possible that the Muslims actually did much of the work as they were the most skilled tradesmen in Spain in that period.

    This synagogue is now a Museum of Sephardic Jewish culture. The rooms to the side of the synagogue are filled with interesting Jewish exhibits and the garden has large Jewish tombstones that have been recovered from around Spain from the pre-expulsion period.

    The second synagogue I visited is called the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca and it was even more surprising than the first. It is made of columns and arches clearly in the Muslim style. It was converted into a church after the expulsion of 1492 but the essential nature of the building was unchanged. It has now become a museum for its history as a rare 14th-century synagogue.

    It was fascinating to tour these two Jewish places of worship, knowing what we know now about what happened to the Jews in Spain and their Sephardic culture. There are a couple of really fascinating Jewish shops near the synagogues in which I also spent some time browsing the books, manuscripts and maps they had for sale. There was an old scroll of the book of Esther for sale. They even had Asterix books for sale in Hebrew. I was tempted but resisted.
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