An old Spanish proverb says that until you have seen Toledo, you haven’t seen Spain. Toledo is one of those cities that I had heard of before but I hadn’t gotten the chance to visit. On one sunny day during my stay in Madrid, I finally decided to organise a one-day-trip to the old Spanish capital.
How to Get to Toledo?
Toledo is located about 75 kilometers to the south of Madrid and is very easy to get to. You have many options for getting there, including by train, bus or car. You can take the high-speed train Renfe from Madrid Atocha railway station, which takes around 35 minutes. The price of a return ticket is € 22.20. When exiting the station, you will arrive at the foot of a hill, where you can get a taxi or catch a bus. I would advise on taking a walk for the chance to see the bridge and the Mauritian gates.
Sightseeing in Toledo
Toledo is one of the most magnificent and picturesque cities in Spain. The historical city is situated on a rocky hill and is surrounded by the Tagus River (río Tajo).
As one of the oldest cities, Toledo has a complex history. Initially it was colonised by the Romans in 192 BC. In the middle of the 6th century Toledo became the capital of Visigothic Kingdom and it transformed into a religious and political centre. In 712 the moors arrived in these lands and took over the city, allowing the Christian and Jewish societies to stay. In 1085, Alfonso VI seized the city and declared it capital of the Kingdom of Leon-Castile until 1561. In that same year Philip II moved the royal court from Toledo to Madrid.
The architecture of this city is unique for Spain. Known as “the City of Three Cultures” during the Middle Ages, the city housed three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. All the people peacefully coexisted within the city’s protective walls. Today, over 100 historical monuments can be seen in the city. Due to that, the Historic City of Toledo was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1984.
Toledo’s Cathedral is one of the most important places to visit. It is the best example of Gothic architecture in Spain. It was finished in 1493, over 250 years after construction began.
City Hall (Ayuntamiento de Toledo)
Toledo’s City Hall is located across from the Cathedral. The construction of the city hall began in 1575 and it was built in three stages. The facade facing the square is the most impressive part of the building. Inside the City Hall you can find a tourist centre where you can learn more information about the city’s landmarks.
Alcázar of Toledo
On top of the hill is based the beautiful fortress Alcázar and now houses an Army Museum. It is a stone fortification located in the highest part of Toledo from where you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the valley. Unfortunately, the palace is not open for visitors.
Museum of Santa Cruz (Museo de Santa Cruz)
Near Alcázar you can visit the Museum of Santa Cruz. It was originally a hospital (Hospital de Santa Cruz), eventually becoming a museum in the 19th century. It was founded by Cardinal Mendosa at the end of the 15th century to centralize assistance to orphaned and abandoned children in the city. Before visiting this museum I had no idea how beautiful it is and what a rich collection it contains. The museum includes three collections: Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, and Archaeology.
Toledo is a perfect destination for art lovers and people who appreciate history and culture. The city is full of little squares, cobblestone streets, old stone buildings and historical landmarks. By taking a walk in Toledo you will take a trip in time and take pleasure in the untouched architecture.