Trekking through Toledo
I think my favorite part of Spain was how accessible it was. Everything was just a train, subway or bus ride away. Of course, they varied in distance and length of journey, but overall it was so easy to see different cities in Spain and for relatively cheap. We decided we had to check out Toledo for a few reasons:
- It was only a 30-40 minute train ride from Madrid.
- It is rich in Jewish history (as well as other religions).
- It was cheap to get there.
- We didn’t need more than a day to see everything.
- I had taken a Jews of Spain course the prior semester and I wanted to show off (JUST KIDDING).
How to get to Toledo from Madrid: Google maps is your friend when travelling abroad. You can check train schedules, directions etc. The easiest way to get there is to travel via Madrid’s Atocha train station. Make sure to arrive early so that you can buy your tickets (you can also pre-purchase online) and find the platform number. Trains to Toledo leave VERY frequently, a few trains leave in the same hour. Many people commute between the two cities for work (think: New Jersey to New York). Round-trip is around 20 Euros.
Toledo was named as a World Heritage Site in 1986 by UNESCO. It was a city of three religions and was well known for being a place where peaceful coexistence occurred for decades. We walked through all of Toledo (don’t know if I would necessarily recommend this in the summer, but we did it). I must admit that it was a good way to see the city, and a good workout. You can really feel the history of the city. Not much has seem to have changed, the city is full of historic sites and much of the “main streets” are very quiet.
Once we reached Old Town Toledo there was a place where we bought a wristband that would give you entrance into a few different attractions in the area. It was a reasonable price, and I would recommend buying it.
Here are the attractions and sites we visited:
- Toledo train and clock tower– the train station is somewhat of an attraction. The building is intricately designed in that beautiful Spanish style we all know and love. Colored glass windows and ornate wood carvings make up the interior of the building. The outside has a beautiful clock tower attached.
- Walk around Puerta De Bisagra Nueva– the most famous gate in Toledo and used to be one of the main entrances into the city.
- Jewish Quarter- most of the following attractions were in the Jewish quarter or in the vicinity. Once you near the old town of Toledo, take some time to walk through all the little shops that have beautiful antiques and jewelry, the storekeepers are all very friendly and let you wander around. Toledo is known for it’s production of steel and so many stores sell high-quality cooking knives.
- Sinagoga de Santa Maria La Blanca– considered to be one of the oldest synagogues in Europe that is still standing. Interestingly, it was built by Islamic architects during the Christian reign and was considered a symbol of coexistence and peace. Since there is no longer a Jewish community in Toledo, it is not currently in use. The inside is beautiful and lines with horseshoe shaped arches throughout.
- El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum– the museum was created within the large synagogue. The museum showcases the journey of the Jews through Spain from beginning to expulsion in 1492 (THANK YOU PROFESSOR MARGLIN). There is a beautiful outside terrace for you to sit in once you finish the tour.
- Museo del Greco– the works of Spanish painter El Greco. The museum is made up of a house and garden. Throughout the house there are different works of art as well as informational videos about his life. Interesting museum for a quick-walk through.