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Toledo: The Land of Three Cultures

Meandering through Toledo’s winding, labyrinth like streets one gains full appreciation of this medieval Spanish city’s diverse history. Nicknamed the land of three cultures, historical surprises, paying tribute to the combined influence of the Moors, Jews and Christians, await Toledo’s visitors around every corner and bend in the road.

There are no lack of historical sites to visit, keep an eye open for signs that indicate ruins and historical sites not indicated on the map. Do not miss the chance to walk through the Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo and enjoy its French influenced gothic design that will leave you breathless. Facilitating the wealth of history of Toledo are a surplus of museums, ranging in subject from the three cultures that presided in the city to the El Greco, housing the great works of the Spanish Renaissance artist El Greco who found inspiration in Toledo’s surrounding areas. In addition, monasteries, covenants, synagogues, mosques and medieval architecture in the form of castles and bridges offer their own unique spin on the Toledo culture.

However, the experience of Toledo does not end with its history. Upon wandering its streets you’ll find a surplus of shopping, ranging from clothing and jewelry to souvenir shops that are home to unique gifts characteristic of Toledo, particularly highlighting its history of craftsman sword production. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate the world famous Damascene handicrafts, hailing from Toledo’s Moorish past, which have become the city’s main artisanal product. If you’re lucky you may wander upon a local craftsman in the process of designing one of the wares, still utilizing the ancient technique of inlaying gold or silver threads on non-precious metals in meticulous and intricate designs. These designs are then placed in a fire, oxidizing the metal till it becomes black, but leaving the gold or silver to shine brilliantly in contrast.

Last, but surely not least what seems like the city’s expansive and never-ending views. At sunset you will not be disappointed. It is highly recommended to climb several flights of stairs to the top of Iglesia de San Ildefonso to capture an awe-inspiring panorama of the city that inspires the name it holds, "the view from heaven."

Purchase a hand map of the city and be open to wandering the streets. Whichever path you choose in this city, you wont go wrong and you will find yourself partaking in a surplus of unexpected, but delightful experiences. Each corner of this city is a surprise waiting to be stumbled upon.

It is highly recommended to wear walking shoes. Toledo can be reached by bus or train from Madrid. Bus tours are an option for viewing the surroundings of the city, however due to the intricate and dense design of the cities they are not able to take visitors into the heart of the city.

 

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