Of course I did my research when I chose the different places I’d visit on this trip to Spain. I sort of had in mind a theme of “Moorish Andalusia.” But my reading did not prepare for what I would discover once I got to the ancient city of Toledo just 44 miles south of Madrid. I took a taxi to the Atocha Station and in just a few minutes I was seated on a comfortable train bound for medieval times. It took 33 minutes and we arrived one minute early! The train was comfortable, it was efficient, it was dependable, and took half as long as driving. I just can’t understand why we aren’t able to accomplish this in the US…it totally escapes me.
Toledo is the former capital of Spain and it jumbles its 2,500 history into a quilt of Roman, Jewish, Moorish, and Christian influences. The result is an astounding tourist mecca perched on the top of a hill. The narrow (mostly traffic free) streets are reminiscent of an Arabic medina and when you look at a map you’re convinced that the city planners simply dumped a bowl of spaghetti onto a table and pronounced: That’s our plan!
Yesterday I visited a synagogue—constructed for Jews, with Christian approval, by Muslim craftsman. It was built in 1361. Today I visited the Cathedral, the largest in Spain. It took more than 250 years to build (between 1226 and 1495). Holy Toledo indeed! This one was built to impress. I’ve visited many cathedrals on my travels, but this one floored me for some reason. The fact that it is so old, is so large yet beautifully designed, and is chock full of art and treasure had me in awe. I didn’t even try to take pictures as I knew they would never do justice to the place.
While there are certainly some impressive sights to see in Toledo, I think I’ll be taking away just the memory of the place itself. The meandering streets, the strolling, the smells of cooking food wafting on the air. Oh, and busloads of tourists. I hate ‘em, they’re interfering with my visit!