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Toledo City Guide
- Places of Interest
- Getting to
- Getting around the city
In 1986, UNESCO rightly named the city of Toledo a World Heritage Site. Located in the very heart of Spain on a rocky headland and bordered by the river Tajo, it is only 70 kilometres away from Madrid, the capital. Toledo was once the capital city of Spain which is why it is of such importance and is currently the capital the province of Toledo and the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. With a vast cultural history, Toledo is unique in that is has been of huge significance to the Muslim, Hebrew and Christian faiths which all left behind their mark in the form of churches, synagogues, mosques and stunning architecture.
There are many idyllic street passages, squares and gardens to enjoy during your visit and you will be quickly consumed by the abundant cultural elements and history this gem of a city has to offer. Toledo boasts a majestic church at every turn and you will not be short of visits to make with its vast number of palaces and castles. As well as this, Toledo is well known for its marzipan so this should be tried at one of the many authentic bars or cafés dotted around the town.
Places of Interest
Located on the highest hill of the city, this majestic Moorish masterpiece dominates the horizon and is one of the few buildings outside of the city. It was once used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century and was renovated in the early 16th century. The building currently houses the Castilla La Mancha Regional Library and Museum of the Army. Each façade of the building shows the artistic time in which it was constructed within the different stages of the Spanish Renaissance and there is a large central patio which is surrounded by two galleries. This is a stunning sight and a must see during your stay in Toledo.
Puente de San Martín
Built in a Gothic style, this bridge is located to the west of the city and was constructed during the 14th century to replace one which existed earlier. There are two fortified towers at each end as well as break taking views from the Old Historic Town over the Tagus River and the natural landscape of Los Cigarreles. San Martín was eventually named a National Monument in 1921.
Iglesia de Santo Tomé (El Greco)
This is the most visited church in the whole city of Toledo and contains the famous el Greco painting "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" which is one of the greatest masterpieces of all time and hangs above the Count's tomb. The church was originally situated in a Mosque however was completely renovated by the Count of Orgaz and converted into a church in the 14th century. The church currently displays a Mudejar style and has very characteristic features. It is approximately €2,30 to visit Santo Tomé however is free during Wednesday afternoons for EU residents.
Since 1088, this gothic cathedral has been recognised as the main church of Toledo. The cathedral is hidden away in the centre of the city and to appreciate its full beauty the opportunity should be taken to climb one of the many towers dotted around the city and admire the aerial view of the cathedral that can be seen across the whole city. The building's oldest door is that of the north transept and was inspired by the corresponding door of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Entry to visit may be a steep 7€ but definitely worth the price!
This archbishop's palace is located on one of the sides of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Dating back to 16th century, this palace takes on a renaissance architectural style with some remnants of the earlier Mudejar influence. The entrance is made of stone and takes on a similar structure to the Alcázar. The Palacio Arzobispal has a vast and interesting history and there have been extensions to it over time. A notable one is the opening of the entrance for coaches on the hill of the Arco del Palacio. As this stands in the city centre, it is worth a fleeting visit on your way past.
Museum of El Greco
Here within, you will find some of the works of El Greco of which the most remarkable are "apostolate", "View and map of the town of Toledo" and "The tears of San Pedro". There is also a selection of paintings by other artists too. The building was constructed during the early 20th century which combined a 16th century building as well as a Renaissance palace. Finally, opened in 1912, it has been subject to much popularity and was decorated by the Marquis of Vega-Inclán with 16th century furniture and objects.
This highly significant museum is home to a number of important military objects such as knives, firearms, uniforms, miniature figures and even battle plans. Located in the Alcázar Castle, a section of the Military Museum in Madrid has been moved there and is currently undergoing preparation. The museum proves an educational and interesting visit as it contains much medieval artillery, pieces from the arms factory in Toledo and a number of other objects from various centuries.
The Sephardic Museum of the city of Toledo is the National Museum of Hispano-Jewish and Sephardic art and holds an abundance of the remains of the Jewish culture. Inside, there are 5 halls and each represent the historic, religious and cultural aspects of Jewish history in Spain. The museum is of great architectural beauty inside and has a number of stunning aspects such as plant motifs on the walls and an impressive coffered collar-beam ceiling. Entry is €2,40 however it is free on Saturday evenings and Sundays.
Getting to Toledo
The high speed train AVE takes 30 minutes to get to Madrid's Atocha station and costs a mere €15 for a day return. However, getting a bus would be cheaper as you have to arrive earlier at the train station to leave time for boarding etc.
Buses run between Toledo and Madrid every half hour with the coach company ALSA until 21:30. The trip takes about one hour and is less than €9 for a return. From the Toledo bus terminal the walk into the old town is steep but is picturesque and idyllic so there is no reason to complain. However, if you would prefer it, there is a local bus service that will take you into the old town.
Getting around the city
Toledo is the perfect city to walk around on foot as all of its monuments, museums and places of interest are close to one another. The only problem is that Toledo is built on a hill therefore can be quite steep and many streets are made of stones and cobblestones however if you are wearing comfortable shoes you should be just fine.
There are a number of bus lines that will take you through the city and are a good alternative if you are feeling a bit tired from all the trekking around. Buses will generally take you to the city centre.
This is a special sightseeing tourist train which offers visitors a panoramic view of Toledo and a visit through some of the streets. There is pre-recorded tourist information available in Spanish, English and French and the train runs regularly every day of the week from 11am to midnight. The trip lasts approximately 50 minutes and costs €3,45 and €2,10 for children.