Holy Toledo!

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Welcome to the medieval walled city of Toledo!  Approximately an hours drive from Madrid, we have Toledo, known as the ‘City of Culture’.  Behind its stone walls, Christians, Arabs, and Jews have lived in peace for centuries.  Throughout the city limits there are a number of castles, mosques, fortresses, synagogues, monasteries, and churches, each one spectacular.

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  Paved in cobble stones, this Spanish city had plenty of lovely features.  Such as the rounded walls,

DSCF6623Moor-inspired doors and window shapes,

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and uniquely Arabic-styled tile work.

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We took advantage of the tour set up by our hostel.  For only €20 (€10 there, €10 back), a van would pick us up outside of the hostel and took us on our way.  Once we arrived in Toledo, the van took us on a 360-panoramic drive around the entire city.  It provided us with some great views of the city.

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The city is famous for its production of damascene artwork, most often seen on plates and jewellery, many of which are still created by hand.

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Artisan hard at work

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Some of the shops had work stations set up so you could see the process of how the pieces were created.

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One thing that I found quite interesting was the stylised buildings throughout the town.  I had never really seen this mix of brick, raw stone, and mortar before.

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This here is the Puente de San Martín.  It was constructed in the 14th century and features 5 arches (trust me…they’re all there).  The centre arch spans 40m and was considered an impressive feat back in its day, with only a few other bridges managing the distance.  Built on the order of Archbishop Pedro Tenori, the bridge crosses the river Tagus and connects the old city with the west (thank you Wikipedia).

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Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

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An interesting feature of the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes are the chains hanging from the wall.  It is said that the monastery was commissioned by Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand II to display their victory over the Portuguese-Castilian in the Battle of Toro in 1476.   The chains and shackles were hung in 1494, to honour the Christian prisoners from Granada that were held by the Moors and released during the Reconquista.

DSCF6603Within the monastery, there are many glorious features.  Such as this cloister garden,

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Lovely archwork,

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Insanely detailed column artwork,

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And an immense piece behind the alter, wrought with gold work.

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Something that I found a bit strange in all the churches I visited in Spain was the fact that the offering candles were electronic.  You would put in your 10 cent coin and randomly one of the candles would light as you said your prayers.  I still kind of prefer the actual candles.

DSCF6576I love visiting churches and other places of worship when I’m travelling.  The amount of time, effort, and money put into their creation, and the fact that they’ve stood the tests of time make them incredible to me.  Seeing this large buildings is a very humbling experience. I often feel so small next to them.

Me and my new boyfriend...isn't he dashing?

Me and my new boyfriend…isn’t he dashing?

I had a fantastic time in Toledo.  I wasn’t quiet sure what to expect on the way there, but was incredibly happy that we made the time to visit it for the day.  I would highly recommend it for anyone travelling around Madrid.  I would however, suggest that you spend 2 days there instead of just the drive in and out trip that we did.  I would have loved to get to see more of the sights in the city.  We didn’t get to see any of the museums or the mosques, and I would have loved to take a walk along the path that follows the river around the city.  Oh well…next time!

Till next time~

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