An hour from Madrid lies a UNESCO World Heritage city on the banks of the River Tagus founded by the Romans around 190 BC. Toledo is known as a city with a wealth of history and a city of three cultures, Jewish, Muslim and Christianity This makes it the perfect place to see centuries of history in one compact city. One of the first things you should stop to notice when you arrive in Toledo is the view. Head down to the river and walk across the Puente de Alcantara (Roman bridge) or the Medieval Puente de San Martin pausing to look up at the spectacular city above.
For a birds-eye view of Toledo, whilst in the historic center head to the Alcazar (means fortress) first used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century. It sits atop of the city and affords a wonderful panoramic view. Today the Alcazar serves as a Spanish Military museum.
Other must-see sights in Toledo include the cathedral which is arguably one of the finest in Spain. Built in the Gothic style it dates to the 13th century. The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes built in the 15th century is certainly one of the finest gothic buildings in Spain. It was commissioned by Catholic Monarchs to give thanks to God for winning the Battle of Toro. The Museo Sefari houses a fascinating Jewish Museum and is one the country’s best- preserved synagogues. Toledo is also home to the 1000-year old Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, the oldest surviving building in the city. A very special place that has seen centuries of Muslim worship. How wonderful to find such a melting pot of cultures in one beautiful, walkable city.
Toledo is also known for its hearty flavorsome food that draws inspiration from the Jewish, Christian and Arabic cultures. The city is most famous for its marzipan, sweet almond paste delights. Not to be missed! The city is also known for growing vibrant Saffron, one of the ingredients needed to make the perfect Spanish paella. If you like game meat you are in luck. In Toledo you will find restaurants serving beautiful pieces of venison or wild boar succulently cooked in red wine and vegetables, flavored with thyme and rosemary. The signature dish of the city is Carcamusas. It’s made with slow cooked pork, peas, chorizo, tomatoes, white wine and bay leaves. It’s served as a bar snack in a small clay dish called a cazuela and eaten with hearty chunks of crusty bread and a glass of red wine. What could be more perfect? Delicioso!
There is no doubt you will collect lots of travel memories in Toledo, but you might just want to take home a little piece of the city too. Replica swords, damascene work, ceramics, leather articles and embroidery are some of the local crafts and specialities. All over the historic center you’ll find an array of shops and businesses where you can buy the city’s most traditional artisan products. These establishments are clustered mainly around the Cathedral, the Alcázar and the Jewish Quarter. The streets of Santo Tomé and Comercio are two particularly busy shopping streets. It is even more fun to visit the shops that have their own craft workshops. Here you will see for yourself how the threads of gold and silver are encrusted by the artisan into the damascene work with a tiny hammer. It is also fascinating to hear, from a master craftsman, the secrets of making a fine sword. Very near the Cathedral you will find the Zamorano swordsmiths’ workshop, one of the few still in existence today.
Blue Danube Holidays have a variety of guaranteed departure, escorted tours to Spain from Barcelona and Madrid, many include visits to the beautiful city of Toledo.
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