University of Wisconsin–Madison

Once Upon a Time in Toledo

About an hour away from Madrid is the beautiful town of Toledo, Spain. This gem of a city was the capital of Spain up until the beginning of the 8th century. It’s known as the “City of Three Cultures” being influenced by the co-existence of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. In short, it has a long, fascinating role in the history of Spain.

From Madrid, it’s very inexpensive to travel to Toledo. For about 10 euros, you can buy a round trip bus ticket to Toledo for the day.

On Saturday, February 21st my friends and I decided to splurge the 10 euros and spend the day in Toledo. I was especially excited to go because one of my good friends from high school, Lauren, is currently studying abroad there through her school. I haven’t seen her in forever and I was eager to have her show us Toledo and catch up.

The first stop in Toledo was in the plaza de Zocodover where we waited to meet up with Laruen. Here, we were entertained by a local man providing entertainment in the form of bubbles. The kids in the plaza loved it and so did I. One of my favorite things about Europe is that I seem to encounter bubbles wherever I travel.

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Once Lauren arrived we all went to get coffee in a café located near the top of a tower in the alcázar because what goes better with coffee than a spectacular view of the city?

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After our little pick-me-up, we took to the streets of Toledo walking around and taking in the sights and sounds the city has to offer. One thing you should know about Toledo is that it is not a flat city. In fact, there are very few instances where you’re not climbing a hill or walking down one. As we explored we walked down Calle Comercio which is one of the busier and most commercialized streets in Toledo. Walking down this street, you could see the bell tower of the cathedral which was really cool.

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Eventually we made our way to the cathedral which was enormous and absolutely beautiful (even though I didn’t actually make it inside).

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Exploring more of the city, Lauren pointed out that every entrance has two doors: a larger door and a smaller door. She explained that in the past the large, tall door was opened when people would enter while riding on horses. The smaller door, in contrast, was utilized as a human-only entrance. It’s crazy to think that people would casually enter an establishment on horse.

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We walked to a park and scenic overlook on the outskirts of town to take in the natural scenery including the cliffs and rio Tajo  that surrounds the city. I even made the daredevil decision to descend the slippery cliffs and walk to a ledge over the river. Once I safely got there, the view was worth it. I understood why people would take the risk walking down the cliff. It was absolutely beautiful.

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Once I safely returned to the overlook, we continued on our little tour of the city which included a stop at a synagogue. I liked seeing the synagogue because it reminded me of the “three cultures” aspect of Toledo. In other parts of Spain there is such a prevalent and institutionalized Christian ideology, it’s important to acknowledge the other religions that had an impact on Spanish culture.

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At this time, I was ready for another coffee. We also went grocery shopping to buy food to have a picnic at “la piedra” rock which is a short hike outside the city. We bought bread, ham, cheese, and chocolate for our picnic. The hike to la piedra was relatively easy and short: a little less than an hour. Once we made it to our destination, you could see the entire city of Toledo in the distance and it was absolutely breathtaking.

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We arrived just as the sun was beginning to set, and it would occasionally peek out from behind a few clouds. It was also extremely windy at la piedra so we sought protection from the wind and had our picnic in a less windy area. Afterward, we all gathered at the top to relish in the spectacular view that was in front of us. For me, it was one of those moments where I realized how incredibly lucky I am to be here and having all these adventures and experiences with great people.

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As the sun set behind the hills we made our way back to Toledo. I said my goodbyes to Lauren and thanked her for showing us around her city and being such an excellent tour guide. Toledo is such a historic, naturally beautiful city and I’m so happy I got the chance to explore it for a day.

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~Bailey

2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Toledo”

  1. I really enjoy reading your writing. You are so descriptive, and give such interesting history details about the places you are visiting. Keep up the good work!

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