Toledo is a popular tourist city in the inlands of Spain not far from the capital Madrid. The city is built on the slope of a hill on the banks of the river Tajo. Toledo is famous for its beautiful architecture and for its history. Toledo is a city that breaths a romantic and mysterious atmosphere. Toledo was the most important city of the Visigoth civilisation in Spain between the 4th and 8th centuries AD. After that it became a flourishing city in the Moorish empire. When the Arabs were conquered during the late middle ages, Toledo became the home of the Castile monarchs.
Toledo is also known for the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Christians, and Jews for many centuries. Because of that the Spanish sometimes call the city, the city of three cultures. The presence of these three cultures is still reflected I its historical architecture. Toledo is a great place for strolling down the narrow streets of the charming historical old town. The maze of streets will definitely get you lost, and after every turn a new surmise awaits you. There are many things to see while fining your path through the city. At the hearth of the city in the Old town is the plaza Zocodover. At this square you will find many cafés and terraces. The square was traditionally used for the city’s main market. During the Arab period the live stock market was held here. Later it was also used for bull fights.
Things to do and see in Toledo
Enjoy the city’s architecture and cultural sights
The most important landmark of Toledo is its cathedral. The city’s architecture and cultural sights are determined by religious buildings. There are synagogues, monasteries, many churches, and mosques. You can visit some of these places with one special entrance card that you can buy on location for 8 euro. Check beforehand which locations are included. Toledo also hosts an annual jazz festival in September. In November there is an interesting Arab festival. During this festival of a week there are many Arab cultural activities and festivities taking place in the city.
Visit local art museums
If you are interested in arts there are also some good arts museums to visit. The Museo Victorio Macho is a museum dedicated to the sculptor Victorio Macho, who was born in Toledo. Toledo is also the home of the famous Spanish painter El Greco. El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. In Spain he is especially known for his paintings. You can admire his works in his former house, which has now been turned into a museum. Some of his works are exhibited in the cathedral museum, together with the works of other famous painters like Goya, El Greco, Lucas Jordán and Van Dyck.
Book local city tours
Because there is so much to see in Toledo a great pass time and good way to become acquainted with the city is to go on one of the many city tours. There are wine tasting tours that you can choose from. Or you can take a cultural or historical tour. But there are also some unique tours like night tours, whereby you explore the city in its special atmosphere at night time.
Nightlife in Toledo
As Toledo is often visited only on daytrips from Madrid, the nightlife is not as bustling as in some other Spanish cities. However there is still a good selection of bars and clubs if you like to get some night entertainment. A nice bar to go to is the Dodici Café Teatro, or the Garcilaso Café. If you are looking for live music El Ultimo, here you will hear mainly jazz and blues. Or, go to Picaro, this is a hip bar for young people where you can enjoy concert of upcoming reggae and rock bands. If you like dance music, go to the Circulo de Arte nightclub. Be impressed with the unique location of this club in a renovated church.
Enjoy local cuisine and wine!
While you’re in Toledo try local wines and game dishes like stewed partridge, Toledo-style quail or venison with wild mushrooms. Typical sweets from Toledo and the surrounding region are Mazapán. These are sweet made out of almonds and sugar, sometimes covered in pine nuts. In Toledo you can find a bakery which is famous all over Spain for its Mazapán sweets; the bakery is called Confiteria Santo Tomé. People from all over the country come here to by the sweets for Christmas.
The most important festival of Toledo is the Corpus Christi festival on the 4th of June. During this festival a procession goes down the city. During the procession a gold and silver statue made in the 16th century is carried around the town. It is believed that this festival is over 500 years old. Locals start decorating the streets five weeks before the start of the festival.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit Toledo from May to September
Getting there and around
In Toledo you can easily get around by foot, but there is also a good bus network available. And taxis are an option too. A good way to get to know the city is by taking a trip on the Zocotren train. This train circles around the city and will take you passed all the main sights of the city. To get to Toledo you have to go to Madrid first. There are many international flights to Madrid from all over Europe and beyond. From Madrid you can take a bus or train to Toledo.