Wednesday 17th May.
Today I went to Toledo. I caught the train from Madrid’s Atocha station for €20 return & 33 minutes each way. Outside the Toledo station, I turned right, walked along to the bus stop, passing the lady selling hop on hop off tickets and jumped on the local bus. It was €1.30 for a short ride along to the city gates, and up, up, up the hill past the Zocodover Plaza with its tourist toot toot trains waiting to fill before setting off. I was aiming for the top so got off once I was up opposite the Alcazar. (Once a Roman palace now hosting a library and a military museum).
You can spot the tower tips of the Alcazar in the photo above to the right of the river at the highest point.
I went into the tourist shop there and bought my son a Knights Templar Tshirt not yet realising the significance to this area yet and got what I really needed which was a map. Toledo is a confusing rabbit warren of alleys reminiscent of Venice.
I set off slowly making my way down the hill with a plan to zig-zag my way past the marked ‘Monumentos Principales’.
I walked down to the lookout.
The plains of Castilla-La Mancha below the town.
I then backtracked and crossed over the Plaza Zocodover and explored its pedestrian alleys winding my way through to the Catedral.
It’s hard to get good photo angles or perspective as the monuments are immense but in tight narrow walkways and small squares. This town pre-dates the Romans and the streets are narrow and winding with much of the streets pedestrian-only it seems.
I was already ready to stop and find a toilet, a drink and possibly even lunch and it was only about 12 pm. 🙂 Granizado de limón drink and a big salad were perfect. I sat and enjoyed listening to a table of young American women chatting and was amused watching a young Spanish man at a nearby table equally captivated.
Then I was off again, making my way through the alleys, getting lost then found again; taking in the history and fascinating array of architectural styles.
Sometimes I could have been in Sicily, sometimes North Africa, other times central Italy such as Naples, but of course this is the incredible make-up of Spain.
It was very ancient and I saw Christian, Islamic and Jewish influences everywhere. Since 1986 it has been a Unesco world heritage site for the historical co-existence of the three cultures as well as the monuments.
The city walls and gates were impressive, in this case, the Puerta de Bisagra with its Moorish gate and surrounding built later in 1559. The coat of arms is of the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V.
The shops were full of Knights Templar t-shirts, bladed weaponry, and religious items.
Toledo has been a steel sword crafting site since 500BC. Hannibal went to war in the punic wars with blades from Toledo. Once the Romans cottoned on to this, Toledo became the standard source of weaponry for the legions.
The wider Toledo area had at least 4 castles associated with the Knights Templar and were well associated with this area fighting for both the Crusades, the protection of pilgrims and the internal Reconquista and other significant battles on the Iberian peninsula.
On the train on the way home to Madrid I saw a young man carefully going through the treasures he had bought in Toledo that day which would be the dream of many young guys. He was so clearly entranced by his purchases touching and turning and looking at the weaponry and ancient military supplies he had bought. It was a pleasure to witness his pleasure.