Photos of Toledo in Spain - World Heritage Site
View of Toledo, Spain looking across the Tagus River
Historic and beautiful Toledo
In July of 1992, my husband and I decided to take a one day tour of Toledo out of Madrid, Spain where we were vacationing.
Pictures of our tour accompany this article so that you can get a glimpse of what we got to enjoy that day spent in Toledo, a World Heritage Site.
Having a guide is always helpful when visiting a new location and all I can say is that if you ever get the chance, put Toledo high up on your list of places to visit.
One day gave us a distinctive flavor of the historic significance of Toledo, but it would have been wonderful to have had more time to explore more of its many endless wonders and experience more of its history by delving into its spirited past.
And an interesting past Toledo has definitely had!
Images of Toledo, SpainClick thumbnail to view full-size
Images of Toledo, Spain
With camera in hand...
After traveling through the countryside of Spain by bus, we approached Toledo which is located just 70 kilometers south of Madrid.
Toledo is surrounded on almost three sides by the Tagus River which forms a natural moat.
Dating back many centuries, Toledo is an historic and walled city and has gone through many occupations of conquerors. Not only is its history redolent with tales of various occupiers but its architecture speaks to those many influences which can enjoyed as well.
Christian, Jewish and Moorish designs have all had their impact and often buildings changed hands and were continued to be built upon with many of the past influences left in place.
Like the city of Rome, Toledo was built on 7 hills. It was the first capital of Spain.
The land mass inside the walls is only 89.59 square miles or 232.1 kilometers. Most all of the historic buildings which included places of worship ( of which there are many! ) and the royal residence, etc. were inside the walls.
Outside of the walls were many private gardens and summer residences and today the suburbs can continue to spread in that fashion.
In 1986 UNESCO declared Toledo to be a World Heritage Site.
Part of the reason is that for many years, the three cultures shared their lives and lived peaceably with each other overcoming racial differences and working together for the common good of everyone concerned.
Through the centuries there were fires destroying some of the buildings but most were rebuilt and refurbished.
Today, the newer buildings are built to blend in with the old and maintain a certain character of the ancient Toledo.
Tourism is a big part of their industry as one might imagine.
Few places like this exist in the world and by visiting places like this we can get a glimpse into the past.
A short look inside the cavernous Cathedral of Toledo
Cathedral of Toledo
The Cathedral is one of the towering edifices in Toledo and is definitely a tourist attraction worth visiting for anyone visiting that area.
Originally an old Visigoth church was on that site and built on top of that was the largest Moorish mosque in Toledo. In the year 1086 it was converted into a Christian church.
Taking two and a half centuries to build, one can realize the different artistic expressions that were manifested during that long time construction process.
The church was built in increments and two unequal sized towers are the result. It is difficult to see the full majesty of the structure from any one vantage point.
Below are some exterior shots of the Toledo Cathedral that I took while on the tour...
Various images of the Cathedral of ToledoClick thumbnail to view full-size
St. John of the King's Cloister in Toledo
The Catholic Church
The greatest majority of monuments in Toledo attracting tourists from far and wide are religious in nature. The Catholic Church has played a significant role in making Toledo a Holy City only second to the influence of The Vatican in Rome.
Concentrated wealth in bygone eras helped create this proliferation of churches, monasteries, religious schools, convents, chapels and other buildings.
Even after the capitol of Spain was moved from Toledo to Madrid, ecclesiastical power remained in Toledo for a long time.
Artists like El Greco and others were attracted to living and working in these environs. There are a huge number of El Greco's paintings that still reside in Toledo today.
In fact, the entire city of Toledo is like a gigantic museum. Art, architectural wonders and medieval influences like the cobblestones, walls and gates of this city could keep one engaged in discoveries for a good while.
Rick Steves talking about the artist El Greco
Museum of Taverna in Toledo, Spain
Toledo by Rick Steves
Images of Toledo, SpainClick thumbnail to view full-size
A one day tour such as we had was a wonderful introduction to this most interesting of ancient cities. I envied the people that stayed there a little longer to roam the twisting streets and make additional discoveries while they soaked up the atmosphere. But alas, we had other plans and more ventures to undertake in Spain, some of which is shared in other posts.
Hope this gives you a snapshot of what there is to see and do while in Toledo, Spain. We merely scratched the surface!
These pictures comprise a cherished souvenir of our visit there.
I am so glad that we took one day when in Madrid to go tour Toledo. I would heartily recommend it!
One couple's slideshow of visiting Toledo
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© 2009 Peggy Woods
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