Seductive Toledo

View from El Parador de Toledo.

View from El Parador de Toledo.

Toledo, once the capital of Spain, became my favorite city in this country the first time I visited it in 1995. The quirky, winding, up and down streets drew me in. The beautiful, ancient buildings cemented the narrative. The art and romance completed the picture. Paul found it to be just as wonderful. He also said it's the cleanest city we visited in Spain.

The winding drive up to the Parador from the train station was a great initiation to the city. Although we could not walk back and forth from the city (there was a mountain and a valley in between), we enjoyed staying in the Parador with fluffy white robes and a king size bed, a junior suite. What a treat after three weeks in our Airbnb.

The mosques, cathedrals and synagogues in Toledo testify to the harmonious medieval culture. We toured the mosques--converted into churches, the synagogues--converted into churches, monasteries and the cathedral. They were all beautiful and inspiring. The cathedral is built on the site of an ancient church and a mosque. With its double isle transept,It is considered to be the best example of high Gothic architecture in Spain.

We also visited the Caves of Hercules, which housed the Roman water storage, and the Roman Baths and toured the Medieval Wall with the three gates. We crossed the massive foot bridge in drizzle to enter through one of the medieval gates and visited the San Juan Monastery. We had an interesting lunch, where every question I asked became an order, which I kept canceling.

One of our favorite buildings was the Hospital de Tavera, outside of the old walls. Hospitals were almost always built outside the city gates, because of the fear of disease. It was a hospital from the 16th century until the 20th century. Now, only the pharmacy remains of the hospital. Part of the building was converted into a palace for the family Medinaceli, who now own the building. There is a museum, the church/chapel from the hospital, and a school for 400 children. The building can only be visited by private tour, one that we thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. No reservations necessary.

Toledo is the city of the famous painter El Greco, called "The Greek" because that was where he was born. El Greco's works can be found in the cathedral, in the monastery, in museums, and in the El Greco Museum, which was closed while we were there. One of his most famous works, The Burial of the Conde de Orgaz, can also be visited for 2.5 Euros per person, but that is the only work on display.

Enjoy the twisty streets, the old buildings, the coffered ceiling, the silver thirteenth centry knight--a human statue dismantling his location the hospital turned palace, museum and school, and more.

Known for it's beautiful purple skies and sunsets, Toledo did not disappoint. We had a great time in our favorite city in Spain. See you in Segovia.




Karen DeGraffenreid