Holy Toledo! A Medieval Adventure in Spain

A day trip to Toledo was a wonderful decision and introduction into southern Spanish architecture. A short train ride out of Madrid, it made for an easy day trip. Our introduction to the splendor of Moorish influence began as we stepped foot off the train. The train station itself showcased the influence of North African Moorish stained glass windows.

As we walked from the station, a large sand colored hill emerged. Walls, sharp angled buildings, and a significant fortress drew my attention. It was far different from what we had witnessed in Madrid. A flowing river ran 2/3 of the way around the city, which made for a key strategic defense in its prime. It was important in history as the main venue of the Holy Roman Emperor and known as the “City of Three Cultures” for its inclusion of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim culture.

Toledo’s list of attractions included approximately 6 different religious institutions, both Christian and Jewish, that were formerly mosques or held important Muslim architecture. We toured 2 of these places. We toured the synagogue which contained Moorish striped archways throughout its interior. It was small, but neat to see. Throughout the city, many souvenir shops sold swords and various bladed weapons. Toledo was once renowned for metal working.

Our lunch consisted of tapas. We indulged in patatas bravas, croquettes, and a grilled meat platter. During this trip, I found that I enjoy “blood sausage”, as the mix of spices and blood creates a sweet taste. Hannah still passes on that one. At least one bakery in the city was supplied by treats baked daily by the nearby convent of nuns.

One small aside: As we entered the city, a security guard ushered people away from a viewing terrace. Hannah and I wondered aloud as to why, perhaps he was taking his job too seriously? As we rounded the corner, our questions were answered. Some sort of government/political/military event was taking place in the restaurant beneath the veranda. Soldiers outfitted with full weaponry patrolled the section of street. One in particular caught my eye. He held an enormous gun like something out of a video game, with a cord extending to a backpack. I was able to discern the maker’s name as I walked by. It turned out to be an anti-drone gun that can jam frequencies and shoot them out of the sky, which I thought was interesting.


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