Spain
Toledo

Here you’ll find travel reports about Toledo. Discover travel destinations in Spain of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

36 travelers at this place:

  • Day22

    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 in Spain

    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 in Spain

    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 in Spain

    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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  • Day188

    Toledo

    November 28 in Spain

    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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  • Day6

    We needed to rent a car at the airport, and just like that, we entered the “what could wrong???” Portion of the trip.

    In the great game of rental car lottery, we went from a Peugeot (which of course Europcar never had) to a bigger (but let’s face it...still not big) Audi A4. ‘Twas the third slap in the face for Martin at home...first Maria ate fried sardines without him (which has happened again since then😬), then we went to a perfect, and cheap symphony performance without him, and then...we get an Audi. Our luggage barely fits (thank goodness for the Tetris training from college). And it’s a manual transmission. All this bragging from Melinda about her ability to drive tractors and yet she’s “nervous” to get back behind the wheel of a stick shift. So Maria drove. Used to an underpowered Subaru, Maria almost gave the group whiplash entering the autopista. A small prayer for no speeding tickets and nobody to steal the Audi as we didn’t buy the extra insurance. Really, a small prayer for Melinda...Maria is driving and it’s on Melinda’s credit card😂😂😂

    Another small bruise to Martin’s ego...Ian says Maria drives more smoothly than he remembers Martin driving. Poor Martin has to drive a Kia and then get Russian judged for it😂

    We drove to Toledo and its a-million-degree weather, so after checking in to the apartment, we headed out for a drive...to the molinas (windmills) of Don Quixote fame. They are in a small town south of Toledo called Consuegra. We drove up the hill, visited the windmills and then began to talk about, what Maria now calls, “Things I half know.” Because it’s been years since either Melinda or Maria were at the site, it’s changed a bit...so we were convinced there were another three windmills. There are another two in a small town called Tembleque. Armed with a cursory internet search and unlimited miles, we drove on...There are two things to note: 1) Every small town around here seems to have an “Exit here!” Sign. We now think that is directed at us. And 2) If something tourist-like is hard to find on the internet...it likely is a figment of your imagination.

    Here’s how it went:

    We drove into town and see two windmills on the right, but town is left, so we go there. Mass is just out, so there are many stares as we drive into town. (Now obvious as to why. The church is the only attraction in town and it just closed😂.) We circle around. Take nice pictures. Decide to drive to the windmills (which, by the way, are NOTHING like Maria remembers them, but who would give up now???) On the way out, Ian sees storks nesting on the spire of an abandoned palace. We stop to take pictures.

    And then:

    Melinda: “Hey. Look over there. I’ll tell you what. I bet you can get a good, cheap meal there. And those old ladies...they could tell you everything about this town.”
    Me: “Wanna go?”
    Melinda: “Yeah, but I’m not hungry.”
    Melinda again: “Oh let’s go check it out...we can at least get a cheese plate.”
    We drive up and on the right are a group of elderly women and men sitting under a sign that read: “Residencia Municipal de Mayores Tembleque” (Municipal Nursing Home Tembleque)

    I. Couldn’t. Breathe. Or see. I was cry laughing so hard that I couldn’t drive. Very few know of Cervantes’ follow up novel about the crazy American ladies looking for non existent windmills and finding where they really belong😂😂 Twenty Four hours later and I’m cry laughing and gasping trying to write this. Amelie doesn’t know if she should resuscitate me or commit me right now.

    And, by the way, we STILL didn’t give up! Laughing and crying and doing a few U-turns, we tried for those dang windmills...clearly located on private land and clearly not named “Quixote” or “Sancho”.

    It was now 10 pm, and we returned to the real windmills to see them lit at night. (We finally reached the wrong ones as the sun disappeared (as did they.) Melinda spent 20 minutes losing the light trying to attach the zoom to her iPhone while we were parked in an industrial yard and while Ian was holding my digital Olympus with zoom attached. I can only hope this place has security cameras and we make the guards’ day a little brighter as they review the weekend footage.)

    On the way home, at 11 pm, we tried to find some food for dinner a la Spanish time. Consuegra seemed like a ghost town. No life in any street. Nothing near the main plaza or cathedral...and then, we turned one corner next to the river and there they were. THE ENTIRE town in pop up cafes by the river. We took the last table in the last cafe and ate bocadillos (baguette sandwiches) and papas (potatoes) until we were stuffed.

    Next up: Bed by 3 am. Sightseeing by 9 am. Taking Spain by Siesta.
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  • Day13

    Toledo

    April 7, 2017 in Spain

    I decided to do a day trip from Madrid and leave the city to see two historical places. The first was Toledo which was the original capital of Spain and was only just over an hour by bus from Madrid. It is an old Medieval walled city perched on top of a hill to make it more defensible back in troubled times. The bus stopped at a photo opportunity and we could see we were in for a treat. The beautiful old city is surrounded on three sides by a river like a natural moat.

    We hopped off the bus at one of the bridges and spent the next hour wandering through with out guide pointing out the many Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments. The streets were very narrow and delivery vans zipped around taking all the width there was making walking a dangerous sport! There was a lovey Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary that was built in a gothic style and many other sights along the way. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and I met a lovely Welsh couple on the tour to share it with. It was a brilliant way to spend a morning and we left around lunchtime to head for Segovia.
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  • Day7

    Sweating at 10 {PM}

    June 25 in Spain

    Ian named the blog tonight. There is nothing like siesta in air conditioning and venturing out at 10 pm for the evening activities, only to find the temperature hovering at 99 degrees...we aren’t glistening...rivers are running down us.

    After returning home at 2 am last night and getting to bed at 3, we woke at 7:30am to take on Toledo without tourists and without the heat. Toledo is a day trip for most, and starting at 10 am the huge tour groups arrive. Before 10, it’s magic. The temperature is finally human (the low temp is reached at 7 am in the summer), the streets are silent (minus a local in a hurry in a car), and the light is low so the streets are shadowed.

    We walked, took pictures, had some breakfast, visited a synagogue and the most famous work by El Greco...and the heat rose and the streets were crowded and we had had enough...we were of course on the opposite side of town from our apartment. There was some grumpiness...maybe even some whining...but we made it back for drinks, and then lunch (suggested by locals), and Siesta! Oh, hail, siesta. A two hour nap can cure the worst of anything...but of course it’s 1:30 am now and I’m still awake😂

    This evening we spent sunset at the view overlooking the city, got a bite to eat, and came home to luxuriate in the air conditioning. Tomorrow we will do something similar as today. Sorry, no goose chases or fake restaurants today. Melinda almost killed herself tripping over a chain tonight near the plaza...a reminder that the border between hilarity and tragedy is a very fine line. Luckily, we are hopefully still tiptoeing on the former.
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  • Day8

    The 8th Day: In which...

    June 26 in Spain

    Melinda falls out of a convent. Maria is no theological scholar and nowhere near a mystic, but if you fall out of a convent, Maria thinks someone, somewhere is sending you a sign. We visited the cathedral first thing in the morning (It is enormous. It took hours to tour), and then we stopped at the convent to purchase sweets. We even waited to purchase the sweets from the nuns instead of buying them in the confectionary the day prior. You ring a doorbell, wait for a nun to buzz you in, ask her for some marzipan, and she hands it to you through the bars of the cloister. As we were leaving, Maria doesn’t know what happened but she “almost” fell down the steps. Just as she let out a sigh of relief for saving herself, she heard a thunk, looked over to see Melinda’s legs above her head, and Maria’s broken fan in Ian’s hands. Apparently, Maria’s fan partially, and insufficiently, broke Melinda’s fall.

    We got limpy to lunch and then siesta. After siesta we did some shopping for Toledo gold, and then found a cold bar for a cold drink in the 100 degree heat. Melinda spilled half her beer onto the table. Let’s just say: Toledo-2, Melinda-0. Melinda had the same nail biting day as España in the World Cup. Luckily, both Survived to compete another day.

    Tomorrow we are off to Trujillo. Still hot but will be a nice reprieve from tourists. Toledo has been lovely, but it’s crowded and we are all a little tired. Let’s all say a little prayer that the Audi is still safe in the municipal parking garage...
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Toledo

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