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Belen Encinas from Totally Spain assisted us in planning an unforgettable trip to northern Spain! I had taken a similar trip 16 years ago with my younger son, who was studying in Spain. My husband was not able to join us because of work responsibilit...
G. Treadgold, La Jolla, CA USA
According to the Guardian “the best way to see Toledo is through the eyes of its greatest artist, El Greco”. The city has just marked the 400th centenary of its most famous resident and you can see the ‘The Burial of the Count of Orgaz’ in situ here. But there’s much more than oils on canvas in Toledo. Conde Nast Traveller recommends “wandering its streets, taking part in the evening paseo or sitting over a drink and a tapa in its many bars or cafés”. Toledo is the perfect place to daydream about what life was like in 16th century Spain as you walk about the streets and explore the city gates and walls.
We love Toledo’s multicultural history reflected in its palace-fortress called the Alcázar that was the home of Castile’s kings until Philip II built the Escorial in 1563. And the Santa María La Blanca church that started out its life as a synagogue in the 12th Century and was built by Moorish craftsmen for Jewish use and is considered a symbol of co-existence from the Middle Ages. From 1411, it ceased to be a synagogue and remains empty today. The Sephardi Museum housed in a synagogue built in 1355 is another must-see. UNESCO-listed, Toledo is known as the City of Three Cultures referring to the historical co-existence of Jewish, Muslim and Christian cultures. Toledo was a former capital of Spain and just before the expulsion, the city was the leading centre of Jewry in Spain. We recommend a private tour taking in the Transito Synagogue that was built in 1357 as a private family synagogue for Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia, treasurer to the Spanish King Peter the Cruel. It later became a Catholic Church but since 1972, it’s home to the aforementioned Sephardic Museum and proudly displays its historic Hebrew inscriptions and beautifully panelled wooden ceiling. The Toledo cathedral is one of the finest in Europe, with stained glass windows, intricate woodwork and wrought-iron grilles, plus a sacristy that doubles as a fine arts museum. Take time to relax at the main square, Plaza de Zocodover, before touring outside the walls where it is important to capture the city´s dramatic profile, as immortalised on the canvases of El Greco.
Foodies should try the Castilian stews and game with wines from the region - La Mancha. Be sure to pick up some marzipan here too – it’s revered in Spain. If you’re looking for quality souvenirs, you’ll find legendary handmade swords, sabers and medieval armour available here too.
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