Toledo, is a wonderful well preserved fortified city in the Province of Castille- La Mancha and is a quick 30 minute train ride from Madrid, making it an ideal day trip.
Toledo is so full of History. As previously mentioned, it was the capital of Spain after the Reconquista. It was considered an Imperial City incorporating 3 cultures ( Christian, Muslim , and Jewish) . Originally a tiny insignificant Roman city, Toledo didn’t get much notability until the Visigoth Empire to hold of the city and made it its Imperial Capital for the Iberian Peninsula in 583 AD. To preserve its Imperial presence as the center of royal power for the Peninsula, the Visigoths declared that the election of a new King following the death of the former should only take place in the Royal City.
Toledo came under Arab rule in 712 AD. After murdering the King, Toledo became a center for Arab Rule for the area, after Seville ( it’s capital) and Cordoba ( its governance) . Fierce battles pursued for years where Christians and Muslims fought each other to conquer and reconquer the city.
On May 25, 1085, Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute, ending the medieval Moorish Rule, and so brought forth the RECONQUEST of Spain by the Christian Kings.
But the coolest bit of historical fiction comes in the form of the Man from Lamancha , Don Quijote. Evidence of his Lore can be found throughout the city.
Toledo, A Perfect Day trip from Madrid:
It was our 6th day in Spain,Madrid, Royal tapas and royal Fun ,and we decided to do a wonderful day trip to the Fortified town of Toledo. It’s fairly easy to do.
The best way in my opinion to see the city is to do it yourself. There are tours leaving from Madrid constantly but who wants to be stuck with a groups plan? Also it’s fiercely expensive to join a tour.
With my Rick Steve’s Spain , book on hand, we headed to Atocha Station, and having already secured our tickets the day before, sat and waited to see which platform we would be leaving from. We boarded our Train and within 30 minutes, we were pulling into the Toledo Station.
After our arrival we made out way to the hop on bus which would take us the city center. The bus can be paid upon arrival and we purchased a round trip ticket. They show up exactly on time for the trains arrival, and departs from a different area within the town to match the exact departure of the next train to Madrid. The hop on Bus was excellent and we sat on top in the open air to watch and see where we are going. As we traversed the winding roads on our way to the city, the surrounding beauty was amazing. Like magic, the city pops up in front of you and you can see its fortified walls, the Alcazar , and the cathedral. We were met with mutual oohs and ahhhhs from fellow travelers , and the bus pulls over at a vantage point so we could score some Amazing photos.
We pulled in from the Grand Southern Gates and were let off the bus. Confused and in a fantastical daze, we decided oh well, lets just walk. Fortunately we started to see signs for the cathedral so we followed the signs. We were quickly lured into a shop selling beautiful Toledo swords , knives, and envelope openers. Ofcourse we bought a few as they are great gifts, and Toledo is famous for their sharp swords. At least we were now prepared for muggings lol.
We finally arrived to the elaborately decorated Cathedral Santa Inglesia with its ornate doors was considered the finest craftsmanship in all of Christendom. You purchase your tickets across from the entrance at a small store . There you can pick up an audio guide ( again highly recommended) a map, and your ticket , and enter the cathedral.
When you first enter, you are struck by its sure colossal grandeur. Ceilings reaching the heavens with their Gothic styles, works of arts by masters like Goya and El Greco enhance the sacred walls of the chapels. We really enjoyed a nice few hours in this church.
Famished, we made our way through the narrow streets , wandering around until we came across a very adorable house Restaurant. We decided to dine here el Fresco in the courtyard of this formal fabulous house. We were met by the owner of the house and restaurant who’s family owns and operates the entire household. She was such a lovely woman who cooked her food with pure love and it was evident by its absolutely decadent tastes. We were attracted to her soul and couldn’t help ourselves by taking pictures with her.
Full to the heart, we walked around and did a little leather shopping at some of the spectacular artisan stores in the area. Trying to follow our rudimentary map, we headed down towards the Tejo River. The Tejo River also flows all the way to Portugal.
Down towards the river is the Jewish Quarter. Like most Jews throughout antiquity, their life in Spain wasn’t a cake walk. They experienced constant persecution but none more so than during the Reconquista where most were forced to convert to Christianity. Surprisingly enough, during the Visigoths and Moorish rule, they were at peace along side Christians and Muslims. It was very interesting to visit the temples, and homes and museums of the Jewish people. Their craftsmanship is superb as well and I enjoyed purchasing some beautiful hand crafted earrings.
After a much needed wine break, we made our way back up to the center of the town. Climbing cobbled stone walk ways and passing Medieval towers and arches, we finally made it back into the center. There are so many artisans stores here, and we enjoyed shopping and more shopping until it was time to leave.
It may not seem like we did much, but you must keep in mind that we spent a good 9 hours here , taking our time to immerse and soak up all the history and beauty of this walled city. We were planning on visiting the Alcazar which sits prominently on its hill top in the city, but as it was now a military museum, and our time was winding down, we decided to just enjoy its exterior.
Our time had come to an end and we had a marvelous time day tripping to Toledo.
We caught our bus at a square on the top most part of the city center, and made our way to the train station. 30 minutes later, we were back in Madrid Madrid: Royal Tapas and Royal Fun filled with wonderful memories.
To read and see more about my trips to Spain by clicking here:Spain: A tapas of beautiful people and landscapes
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey.
Indeed, Toledo is one of Spain’s prettiest cities and I once heard someone saying that if you had but a single day go spend in Spain it should be here.
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