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Toledo: A medieval fortress in the heart of Spain

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Placed on top of a hill skirted by the Tajo river we find Toledo, a medieval city where, centuries ago, the Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures clashed, leaving for us a truly magical place where to get lost and experience the magic.

Visiting Toledo is like flying back in time to a medieval era, so much that you almost expect to run into a knight wearing an armour while walking around its enigmatic streets. Situated barely an hour away from Madrid, taking the bus to the medieval city feels like time travelling, a feeling that only gets reinforced when you go through the doors of the old wall to get into the city centre. And, once you’re there, it only gets better. 

Being placed on top of a hill, Toledo is all slopes and stone pavement. Nevertheless, tiring as it can get, just roaming around its streets is a magical experience. The city is packed with medieval shops and traditional taverns. If there is a place in Spain where you can buy a medieval sword or costume, that is Toledo.

Toledo is known as the city of the three cultures. For centuries, the city was populated by Christians, Jews and Muslims, which is reflected in its architecture. Apart from the monumental cathedral, Toledo has several churches, synagogues and mosques. The clash of cultures is more than obvious when you go from the muslim styled streets (narrow and sinuous, with the tile roofs almost touching) to the Jewish Quarter. Toledo is also known as the Imperial City, for it was where the king Carlos I chose to take his court in the 16th Century. 

Toledo is a city vibrant with culture and history. From religious temples to historical architecture, one can never be bored in Toledo. One of the most interesting things to do in the city is to visit the Iglesia de Santo Tomé to see El Greco’s paiting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, a massive piece of art definitely worth seeing at least once in your life.

But the best thing to do in Toledo is, ironically, to get out of it. On the other side of the river, up in a place called The Valley (El Valle), there’s a viewpoint. From there, on of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll ever see can be spotted. The panoramic view of both the river and the whole city is unquestionably the best thing to see in the city. My advise is that you take a bus or a taxi to get there, and then walk back to Toledo following the river and crossing one of the medieval bridges. That way, you skip having to climb all the way up to the Valley and only have to walk downhill, in what is, indeed, one of the most pleasant walks I’ve ever taken.

It’s no wonder Toledo has been a World Heritage Site since 1986. Its medieval aura and historical and artistical richness make Toledo one of the hidden treasures of Spain. While tourists choose Barcelona and Ibiza instead, Toledo awaits, as it has been doing since pre-roman times, guarding its secrets within its surrounding walls. If ever traveling to Spain, consider a visit to this marvelous medieval enclave. You won’t be disappointed.




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