Saturday, September 23, 2017

Layers of history in Toledo

We arrived in Toledo last night after a long trip that included a tube ride, an international flight, then two train rides and finally a taxi ride up the hill to the old part of the city, which is behind walls.

This photo was taken this morning and shows some of the layers of history. The arch has Moorish elements plus other types of arches and windows and stones. Everywhere here you see the mixture of the Moorish, the Christian and the Jewish cultures. There are also elements of the Romans and Visigoths. Wandering around this area you stumble from one to another, often in the same location. It's fascinating, although disturbing too.

I tried to read the history but simply got too confused by the two thousand years of battles and power being taken back and forth. The Moors were here for 700 years but at times they were pushed out by Christians. The Jewish community was accepted by both and lived in the Jewish quarter but they were also expelled from time to time. Toledo was the centre of the Spanish Inquisition when Catholics forced all residents including Jews and Muslims to convert or else leave the country. It got pretty ugly with people being burned at the stake and tortured too. Anyway, that's all history now--as they say; it has left Toledo as a fascinating place to visit.

We visited the Iglesia del Salvador this morning. It's a church that was built on the top of an mosque (with a lot of back and forth: Some of the Christian statues have their faces filed off and the minaret has been turned into a bell tower. ) There's also evidence of an earlier Visgoth Church that was built on top of Roman Ruins. This shows some of the excavations to one side of the church.

That's Harry (on the left) by some old Roman Columns topped with Moorish arches. These same arches are in the church itself (on the right).

Here's a view of the rooftops of Toledo from the top of the bell tower that was formerly a minaret.

We visited the Museum of El Greco, the famous Spanish painter who lived here in the 1600s. A couple of hundred years later a rich man purchased a falling-down estate that he thought was where El Greco lived and restored it to its former glory. In doing so he discovered a cavern beneath part of the garden that turned out to be an ancient Jewish temple ritual bathing place.

Toledo is now a Unesco heritage site visited by people from all over the world. We've seen pilgrims from China, Japan, North America, Britain, Germany and France coming to visit this medieval relic. The mobs of tourists in the streets and the plazas are overwhelming. Harry and I have taken to referring to tourists as pilgrims. It makes us feel better about the mobs.

Here are some of the wonderful sights that they (and we) have seen.

This is the interior of a building that had an art exhibit we really liked. It seemed fitting that many of the paintings were of the interiors of neoclassical houses with birds and animals intruding.

We're off now to find dinner and stay another night in Toledo. Tomorrow we take the train back to Madrid for our home exchange stay.  


  1. A complex history, but my, what a beautiful city!

  2. Wow, my goodness no "jet lag"? just lots of walking.
    What a beautiful city.Hope funny but you or I do not hear the name Toledo that much any more.
    Hope your exchange house is nice.

    cheers, parsnip


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