City Guide to Toledo, Spain
Author: Julie Thompson | Last Updated: 25 Sep 2018
Toledo, albeit one of the lesser well known cities of Spain, is arguably one of its most special cities. Perched atop a hill, the city of Toledo is a city comparable to Venice in its uniqueness. Just a short train journey from Madrid, the capital of Castilla la Mancha – home of the prestigious spanish novel Don Quixote written by the spanish Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and many windmills – is highly recommended for a weekend trip.
Best time of year to visit Toledo:
The best time of year to visit Toledo is at the tail end of summer, either August or September. The reason for this is that although Toledo is still lesser well known, it is becoming an increasingly popular day trip destination and so is usually bustling in the summer months which can be inconvenient in the narrow streets. Plus you will still be in time for the warm temperatures and late evenings when the city of Toledo and the Alcázar palace lights up.
Mirador del valle
Before you even step foot in the city of Toledo, consider taking this incredibly scenic hike that will give you the most picturesque view of the city available. Work your way towards the Mirador del valle (valley lookout) up the hill and round the windy hill paths for the amazing first view of the city. As well as the satisfaction of a good hike, when you reach your destination you will see the city of Toledo on the other side of the deep valley. The Alcázar or palace of Toledo dominates the skyline with its simple yet striking design. The city cascades down towards the river as if it were some kind of urban waterfall, and you can also pick out the old city walls and stairs which lead to the centre of the city.
When you’re ready to explore the city itself, there are a few options to choose from: you can either take the bus, take the escalator, or walk up the old stairs. If you want to imagine what it would have been like many years ago perhaps for invading forces or just civilians to enter the city, take the stairs and contemplate the vast castilla la mancha countryside which is very flat and stretches out for miles. Once you arrive, head straight to the Alcázar, the stone fortification which is undoubtedly the first thing you noticed approaching the city. Following skirmishes of the spanish civil war, the alcazar became a strong symbol for spanish nationalism. Now the building serves as a war museum and the library for the region of Castilla la mancha, so there are many reasons to explore the interior.
From one architectural marvel to another, the Toledo cathedral is considered by many to be one of the best examples of the high gothic style, one of only 3 such 13th century cathedrals in Spain. The other impressive building dominating the skyline of Toledo from a distance, the cathedral is also worth seeing up close. There are several entrances to the cathedral, each with its own unique name and design; for example there is the door of the fair, of the shoe-makers’ shop and of the lions. Inside the cathedral is a series of incredibly ornate looking sculptures and high art.
Plaza de zocodover
Time for a spanish square, one which acted as a key hub for the city in its past, called ‘plaza de zocodover’. This square has cultural significance to the city as it was once the place where people would get together to buy and sell all kinds of animals and even put on bullfighting events. This is the first square you’ll come across as you enter the city and so it’s a great place to get a well-earned bite to eat after all the walking/hiking to get to this point. Notable also for how the Alcazar appears to loom in the background, definitely a good stopping point upon arrival.
As for food, the regional specialty is roasted suckling pig, a hearty meal which is enjoyed by many. On top of local specialties, Toledo is known for having 3 distinct influences: Jewish, Christian and Arab. As a result, some of the food you can wind is a wonderful fusion of the 3 and a change from the typical spanish food, which you’ll also be able to find if you so desire. If you’re looking for a special dining experience, go to Alfileritos 24, an incredibly unique restaurant which will flaw you with its very clever layout and interior design – part of the restaurant is like a cave.
Toledo is home to many interesting museums; there’s the museum of manchego cheese, which is one of the biggest exports of this region of Spain and it’s easy to see why. Then there’s the ‘museo de la España magica’ which is the only museum in Spain to present an Islamic cave along with many texts and historical artifacts. Perhaps the best of the lot though would be the Greco museum, which displays the life work of spanish painter ‘El Greco’. Even if you are unfamiliar with the name, which probably applies to a lot of people living outside of Spain, you should go to this museum just to see his quite brilliant portrayals of the city of Toledo from another time period.
This last one is for those adrenaline-seekers looking for a thrilling way to end their visit to Toledo. Hiking up to the city, it only seems right to exit the city in an equally interesting way, and the zipline provides just that. Fly Toledo offers this exhilarating experience for a very reasonable price, considering you will have a memory of a lifetime, sailing through the air over the valley and epic bridge below. Cross the Tagus river and take away a photo or video of the experience taken by the company should you wish to keep a one of a kind souvenir to remind you of this special place.
Post Views: 945