If you wish to experience the history of Moorish Spain, you couldn’t have chosen a better place. Toledo has seen a number of cultures and dynasties pass through its walls, as well as wars, royalty, and artists. The legacy it holds is an essential part of Spanish culture, so visiting Toledo for a day is bound to be a unique experience for history buffs, foodies, and lovers of Spanish culture. Here’s what you need to know in this Toledo, Spain itinerary!
How to get there
Toledo is small enough and located close enough to the capital of Madrid that it doesn’t have its own airport. Most likely, you will arrive at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) and then choose to take a train or bus about an hour from there. It’s also possible to book tours from Madrid that will take you just to Toledo, while some include a trip to Segovia, as well.
When to go
Toledo is nice most of the year, though the summers can become unbearably hot. The best time to visit tends to be around early spring and in the late fall. However, you will very rarely experience extreme weather conditions except in the summer.
How to get around
Toledo is tiny (though there is a lot to see), so the best way to get around is usually to employ your best pair of walking shoes and to take the day to stroll around. Not only does it offer some great exercise, but you also might get a glimpse of things you wouldn’t otherwise–the best way to travel a Medieval city is to do it how it’s been done for hundreds of years.
There is a bus line available if you need to be able to get from one spot in the city to the other fast.
Where to stay
If you choose to stay a little longer in Toledo, there are several budget-friendly hotels that might work for you. Hotels are used to guests choosing to stay only a day or two.
Plaza Horno de la Magdalena, 4
+34 925 22 2100
This three-star hotel offers great prices and charming rooms located right in the city center. For those who want an affordable option that offers easy access to almost any part of the city, this is the perfect hotel for you.
Calle de los Alamillos del Tránsito, 13
+34 925 28 5191
For $70 a night, you can experience a beautiful four-star hotel with an included breakfast, a great location, and an opportunity to relax. This is the ideal spot for honeymooners and those looking to make their time in Spain a vacation.
Calle de los Reyes Católicos, 5
+34 925 28 3535
This renovated 19th-century building offers comfortable beds, a free breakfast, and an excellent location for seeing the city. History buffs will love getting the chance to see the beautiful structure.
Toledo’s cathedral is known as one of the most essential places to visit when you are in this gorgeous city, and we recommend starting here to get an idea of the importance Toledo had in one point in history. Built in Gothic style with a clear French influence, many experts say that it is one of the best examples of this mix of styles in Spain. It took more than 200 years for it to be completed and was finally finished towards the end of the 15th century. There are several masses each day if you would like to visit, and the cathedral is open from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm during the week and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sundays.
Located at the highest part of the city, the Alcazar is not only the best place to visit when it comes to learning about the history and culture of Toledo, but the stunning panorama also makes it worth your while for photo opportunities. Alcazar means fortress in Arabic, and it was built on the city’s highest point for military and strategic purposes. Originally, it was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century before being passing to some of Spain’s royalty. After that, it was conquered by the Moors, who had a very strong influence in this city and much of Spain for hundreds of years. Now, it is a museum that holds different exhibitions focusing on the evolution of military strategy and weapons in the area.
The Juderia was once the city’s Jewish quarter, and is known as one of the most beautiful parts of Toledo–the preserved buildings are a wonder to look at. You might consider looking into finding a guide that can take you around since a tour through the Juderia helps you to understand what life was like under Muslim and Christian rule over the Jewish people.
When looking for lunch, keep in mind that the city has been inhabited mostly by Jewish people, Christians, and Arabs, so the cuisine is an eclectic mix of various cultures. Apart from some excellent restaurants highlighting these flavors, Toledo also offers typical Spanish fare such as succulent suckling pig–the city’s specialty.
The Mercado San Agustin has been recently restored and is made up of delicious restaurants, food stalls, and bars. You can taste local wines, sample regional cheeses, and eat a variety of tapas all in this one spot. If your tastes run towards traditional foods, head to the La Abadía Cervecería Artesana. Housed in a 16th-century building, the restaurant features hearty stews, tapas, and salads.
For Middle Eastern-influenced dishes, try the Restaurante Alqahira Rincón, serving homemade dishes prepared with fresh ingredients. The traditional Moorish décor is also worth checking out if you feel like you have been transported to another time and place. Situated in a 12th-century Jewish home, Restaurante Adolfo serves plates that are as beautiful as its historic interior.
After lunch, check out the other side of town. The Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes is a Franciscan church that was built under the reign of Elizabeth of Castile, one of Spain’s most powerful queens. Originally, it was intended of being used as the royal mausoleum. The building is a marvelous example the Elizabethan-Gothic style, which was predominant in Spain under the monarch’s rule. It was also meant to be a memorial for a recent military victory, the Batalla del Toro. It has a long and narrow construction with a number chapels. The ceiling is particularly remarkable: it was designed in the mudéjar style with a distinct Arab influence.
From there, head to the Puerta de Bisagra, an incredible construction providing access to the city. It was originally built by the Moors when they inhabited the city in the last centuries before the first millennium. Sometime in the 16th century it was reconstructed, but some of the authentic portions can be seen today. The name is derived from the Arabic Bab-Shagra, which means “the door that leads to the field.” The exterior is made up of an arch accompanied by two beautiful semi-circular towers and crowned by the city’s imperial coat of arms.
It’s time for more history! The medieval bridge of Puente de San Martínbuilt over the Tajo River is considered one of Toledo’s trademarks. From here, there is a brilliant panorama of the old town, and it is known as the perfect romantic spot to view the main sights. Be sure not to miss the small statue of a woman in the middle arch of the bridge: she was the wife of the architect in charge of building the bridge. Her husband had wrongly calculated the weight and length of the bridge, which he realized just days before the inauguration. However, his wife knew the bridge would collapse when the scaffolding was removed, so she burnt it down at night during a massive thunderstorm, leading villagers to think it had been struck by lightning.
Toledo has a lot to offer when it is nighttime as well–there’s more to visit than what’s available during the day. The city gives a completely different vibe when it is dark. Opt for a guided tour that becomes available once it is dark. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about Toledo’s history while taking a walk.
Have you ever been to Toledo? What would you recommend first-time visitors to see?
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