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Tuesday, October 27, 2009 (read 1106 times)


by Lauren Somers

If you are staying in Madrid or Salamanca, why not take the opportunity to head to the beautiful town of Toledo for a day…

Toledo is found almost directly in the centre of Spain and is the capital of the autonomous region of Castilla-La Mancha. The old city is located on a mountainside with 150 degree view, and surrounded on 3 sides by a bend in the river Tagus. The historic centre contains a beautiful and fascinating blend of Roman, Arabic and Baroque architecture. This is not surprising considering that the city was famed in the past for its religious tolerance, and was often known as "The City of Three Cultures" since it has been inhabited throughout the centuries by Christians, Jews and Arabs.

However, in more recent history it has been subject to conflict, particularly between the Republicans and the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. This principally took place in the Alcázar of Toledo, a stone fortification that was held by the Nationalists during the Civil War, and became a symbol of Spanish Nationalism. However, it now houses the Castilla-La Mancha Regional Library and Army musem.

Other remains of its multi-cultural past can still be seen today, such as the Roman aquaduct, the Cathedral, the Synagogue of Santa María La Blanca and the old Market street. This amalgamation of influences even attracted the famous Renaissance artist "El Greco" who moved to the city at the end of the 16th century when Toledo was one of the biggest cities in Europe.

Toledo is also famed for its production of swords, which seem to be available for purchase in almost every shop, in a variety of sizes and even foam replicas for children! And keep a look out for the coats of armour which also seemed to be on sale!

Toledo is less than half an hour from Madrid on one of the high speed trains, or a longer coach ride away from Salamanca. When we arrived by coach we were taken on a panoramic tour of the city, with the opportunity to stop and take some beautiful photos looking down at the river, and up at the historic centre and Alcázar. We then took a series of escalators up to the historic city centre, which seemed very bizarre in such an old town!

Toledo was a very interesting city and well-worth a visit!

Keywords: toledo,spain,salamanca,madrid,history,diaries,culture,cultura


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