The ancient city of Toledo is just an hour away by bus from Madrid. I highly recommend you to visit Toledo if you are in Madrid. One of the unique characteristics in Toledo is the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims and Jews reflected here.
Toledo was the former capital of Spain, the entire old city is a national monument and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Most parts of Toledo remained untouched, survived from its invaders as they are afraid to destroy the holiest city in Spain in the Catholic faith.
Let’s find out the top things to do in Toledo in a day.
1. Alcázar of Toledo
Alcázar of Toledo is located in the highest part of Toledo. The stone fortification dominates the city skyline that once used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century. Now it is used as the Museum of the Army.
2. Alcántara Bridge
Alcántara Bridge is built over the Tagus river between 104 and 106 AD. In the center of the bridge, there is a Triumphal Arch. Very historical bridge and still surviving until now. It is also one of 100 finalists for the 12 Treasures of Spain.
3. Castle of San Servando
Castle of San Servando sit high above the bank of the river and opposite the Alcantara bridge. It was begun as a monastery, occupied first by monks and later by the Knights Templar. But currently used as a youth hostel and strictly not for tourists except hostel guests.
4. Escalator to the old town of Toledo
It is very interesting to go up Toledo old city, there an escalator and covered walkways from an underground garage to bring you up the ancient city. It saves you from a lot of climbing. Private cars and buses are not allowed in the old city as this old city received too many tourists daily and in order to protect the city, they built the escalator up and make all the tour buses park underground. This will reduce a lot of traffic and pollution too since the whole city is a Unesco site.
You see very run down ruins back from the olden days after exiting from the escalator.
5. Plaza de Zocodover
Plaza de Zocodover is a main square of Toledo. It was named by the Arab souq ad-dawab (livestock market), that was back then. Now the square has plenty of shopping for souvenirs, cafe, and restaurants.
6. City of Sword
Toledo is also the city of sword! There are many shops selling weapons such as swords, knives, daggers, and axes. This place is famous for their weapons. The most famous Hollywood’s weapons are from Toledo. Here the artisans have created swords for films as Gladiator, Alexander the Great and the famous Lord of the rings.
7. The Marzipan Sweets in Toledo
The legend says that the nuns from the Convent of San Clemente invented this famous sweet from Toledo. The first marzipan is made with sugar and almonds.
The tasty paste became a staple and now it’s one of Spain’s most popular foods. In some places, you can still buy marzipan directly from nuns in monasteries. They use the money to raise fund for the convent. Some of the interesting shapes you can find in marzipan cookies are pigs and bears.
8. Toledo Cathedral
This may be the highlight of Toledo city, it is huge and ranks among the greatest Gothic structures in Europe. The structure of the building is greatly influenced by the French Gothic style of the 13th century but adapted to Spanish taste. Some history background of Toledo Cathedral, it stands on the site of the Great Mosque of Toledo.
9. Toledo Narrow Street & Cobblestone
The narrow street in Toledo was purposely built in that way to create shade for the summer as it is very hot.
10. Toledo is filled with quaint shops and artisanal goods
11. Secret door link to another secret alley
Go look for the secret door which will link you to another alley, pretty interesting.
12.Toledo Jewelry Artisan
The Moorish art of inlaying gold threads into black steel. It is a popular handicraft in Toledo.
Below are his finished work or masterpiece for sales.
13. Toledo Jewish Quarter
It was the neighborhood for the Jews lived in the Middle Ages. You learn about a large Jewish population lived in Toledo during the Spanish Reconquista and how they preserved their Jewish faith while practicing Christianity.
Make sure you look to the floor and check out the little tiles that are scattered around with symbols. These are the markers in the Jewish quarter.
Hanukkah Menorahs symbol (above)
14. Buy Jewish Road Marker for souvenirs to bring home
15. Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca
This is an ancient synagogue converted to a church. Located in the Jewish quarter of Toledo. The iconic architecture display rows of pillars supporting 28 horseshoe arches, influenced by the Moorish style.
16. Fly Toledo
This is something you may want to do with just 10 Euro. You are able to see the city of Toledo from another angle. It is said the longest urban zip line in Europe, it flies across the river Tagus in 20 seconds.
Spotted an olive tree in one of the home gardens of Toledo.
The first thing you notice about Toledo Spain is the city is ancient and untouched. No new buildings in Toledo city which make the whole city very beautiful and rustic taste. The most famous Hollywood’s weapons are from Toledo so there is plenty of souvenir shop selling long swords in the whole city.
Do you like ancient city and which are the ancient city you have explored?