Toledo information

Introduction to the Province of Toledo
In central Spain lies the province of Toledo, part of the autonomous community of Castilla la Mancha. Toledo city was once the capital of Spain and so today still has the atmosphere and history of a capital city. This geographically diverse province experiences extremes of temperatures and so a visit to Toledo during the spring or autumn would be ideal.

Toledo City
The city of Toledo was once Spain’s capital and in 1986 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich monumental and cultural heritage. Situated beside the River Tagus on a rocky outcrop, Toledo is not huge but its cobbled streets are packed full of history at every turn. You are bound to get lost but that’s part of the fun.

Toledo’s Gothic Cathedral with its 100m high spire is magnificent from a distance and its interior is no less impressive. It has beautiful stained glass windows, more than twenty exquisite chapels, impressive altars and hundreds of valuable religious treasures and artefacts on display, including paintings by the artist, El Greco. Another of El Greco’s masterpieces that shouldn’t be missed is on display in an annexe of the Church of Santo Tome. From here, he old Jewish quarter of Toledo, the Juderia, and El Greco’s former house are within easy striking distance. The beautifully decorated 13th Century synagogue of El Transito is near to El Greco’s house and contains the Sephardic Museum.

Other museums in Toledo include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Visigoth Art and the Hospital Museum of Santa Cruz where yet more of El Greco’s works are on display, as well as paintings by Goya. The synagogue of Saint Maria la Blanca now contains a fine museum of crafts.

Toledo is renowned for its traditional craft of steel working and the manufacture of swords, knives and other blades has been one of the city’s main sources of income for centuries. Many of he Roman legions had weapons made in Toledo.

In the main square of Toledo, the Plaza de Zocodover, is the dominating fortress, the Alcazar. This was the location for one of the most famous and notorious sieges of the Spanish Civil War. Its history is fascinating and furthermore there are great views of the city to be had from its windows.

Around Toledo City and Beyond
The Toledo Mountains (Montes de Toledo) are a remote and rarely visited place and thus perfect for getting away from it all and doing some hiking or simply exploring by car. There are some interesting towns and villages in this area, including the mediaeval village of Oropesa, which has castle that now houses a Parador, Lagartera, which is famed for the beautiful embroidery that the women of the village produce in abundance, Talavera de la Reina, which is highly regarded for its pottery and ceramics as is the town of El Puente del Arzobispo. The village of San Pablo de los Montes and its nearby spa of the Baños del Robledillo are also worth exploring.

The town of Tembleque, 55km from Toledo has some fine architecture and squares and further out still is the village of Villacañas which has some curious underground houses, known as “silos”.

In the south west of the province of Toledo is the National Park of Cabañeros. The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including Mediterranean forests, storks, vultures and eagles and otters, wild boar, deer and even the Iberian lynx.

The Gastronomy of Toledo
Toledo’s cuisine is typical of the central Spain region, and makes heavy use of meats and game in its typical dishes. Dishes that are likely to come across include: Estofado de Perdiz (a partridge casserole), Judias con Perdiz (a partridge and bean stew) and Cuchifrito, which is a lamb, tomato and egg dish with white wine and saffron. You will also encounter roast lamb and suckling pig and even wild boar on the menu. Bomba Toledana is a traditional tapas dish from the area and is a little like a Scotch egg, but consisting of mashed potato enclosing a ball of minced meat, the whole then being rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

Of course, you must sample the tasty Manchego cheese for which Toledo is famous, and also its marzipan (Mazapan).


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