Introducing holidays to Toledo
The River Tagus is the focal point of Toledo, which perches over a beautiful gorge. You’ll want a guide book – or good history site – to get the most out of this historic city, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A map is less necessary. The maze of alleyways around the historic centre of the city is a wonderful place in which to get lost, and the close proximity of many stunning historic buildings makes turning every corner a get-your-camera-out moment.
Mosques, synagogues and churches cluster together in this City of Three Cultures that still has a very lively religious and cultural life today. If you like your art you’re in for a treat in the city of El Greco, one of Spain’s greatest artists who has a museum dedicated to his works, many of which can also still be seen in their natural homes, the city’s churches. Time your trip for Corpus Christi – nine weeks after Easter – to catch the city’s biggest religious festival.
Wine and Dine
Toledo was named as Spain’s Capital of Gastronomy for 2016, but whenever you visit the city you’ll find platefuls of delicious local specialities to check out on your visit.
Toledo has a big tradition of game cooking. Make sure you order at least one quail, partridge or venison dish while you’re there. Venison’s best enjoyed in a ciervo en salsa, slow cooked in red wine with vegetables and herbs. Order a Perdiz a la Toledana to enjoy the famous local red partridge at their finest.
There’s a sweet side to the city, too, which is internationally famous for its marzipan, an Arab import originally. For Toledo’s sugar crafters It’s not enough to hide the stuff under icing on a cake, and you’ll see every shape and size of marzipan creation shown off in the windows of Toledo’s confectioners. Try the Confitería Santo Tome at Plaza de Zocodover for some of the best.
Like every great Christian medieval city, Toledo’s cathedral is its centre point, one of the most important religious buildings in Spain. You’ll struggle to find a good view of the incredibly impressive exterior from the crowded streets around it, but step inside the doors and your breath will be taken away. 120 metres long, with 88 columns, the decoration – from old masters to stained-glass windows – is colourful and beautiful, with the choir said to be one of the greatest works of art in the Christian world.
The Museo de Santa Cruz’s home in the Hospital de Santa Cruz matches the excellent collections inside. El Greco features prominently, as do his pupils, and Goya, Spain’s other great master.
Wherever you go in Toledo you’ll see the Alcázar, one of the finest Moorish buildings in Spain, adopted and adapted by subsequent Christian kings. Its unhappy recent history during the Spanish Civil War is covered in an army museum inside, and it’s beautifully set by the Plaza de Zocodover, one of the city’s prettiest squares.
Sinagoga del Tránsito represents the city’s famous Jewish heritage beautifully in a stunning 14th-century building that’s the most important Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) building still standing. A museum inside tells the story of the country’s Jewish communities.
Catch the best El Greco collection in the world at the Museo El Greco next to the artist’s own home in the Jewish quarter.