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holy Toledo

Last day in Madrid – and we spent most of it 70 kms. south, in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Toledo. It would never have occurred to me to go there, it’s the wondrous Bruth who insisted. And what a beautiful town it is, plastered to the side of a high hill with tiny winding streets up and down, lined with old buildings, churches, museums, opening out into typical busy Spanish squares. Toledo is at the geographic and historic centre of this country, once the centre of “La Convivencia,” centuries during which Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in harmony. Until 1492, when sephardic Jews were expelled and forced to wander across Europe looking for a new home.

Bruth was on a hunt for El Greco’s, which are scattered about the place, as the great artist lived here for many years and painted canvases for the local churches. And for the Cathedral, which is one of the most decorated and splendid I’ve ever seen – like Notre Dame, only a bit smaller and with almost no visitors. Stunning – with some superb El Greco’s just hanging casually inside, the most beautiful Jesus with dark liquid eyes – I love how all El Greco’s saints are dark-eyed Spaniards – as well as some Titians, a Caravaggio, a Goya and a Raphael or two. A soaring alter of unimaginable gold and carving, marble everywhere, stained glass windows …
Up and down more narrow streets to other churches, other museums, to see one of El Greco’s most famous paintings, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, and to the old Synagogue, very simple but reeking of history and devotion, with a supremely decorated marble wall and a fascinating museum.
Lunch sitting outside – though it was a chilly day with a high wind, still, it was good to feel the pale sun on our faces. A 3 course menu for 12 euros, then off again, up and down and winding round, until it was time to head back over the medieval bridge to the fast train back to Madrid.
I was exhausted, and couldn’t believe my ears when, as the train pulled in, Bruth said, “Last chance – let’s go to the Palacio Real.” The one that was closed the other day. So we did – he again wanting to see the paintings, and once again – this is the third time for him – the gallery section was closed. But we went through the palace rooms, appallingly rich in decoration, chandeliers weighing tons, walls covered with embroideries or porcelain, carpets, exquisite chairs and tables, a dinner table set for a hundred … What we don’t know is where the current king and queen of Spain live. “They have a little cottage somewhere,” opined Bruce, as we shaded our eyes from the gold and silver.
So, last walk back through the crowded after work streets, home to flop on the sofa and then to make dinner and pack. This has been a glorious six days. Tomorrow – Barthelona.

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3 Responses to “holy Toledo”

  1. Beth,
    From the delightful and oh-so-welcome spring snow in Toronto I am enjoying these daily sunshine reports. I hope you take time to do nothing at some point. Your pace sounds exhausting!
    Chris

  2. beth says:

    I'm sorry to hear about your snow, Chris. It has been chilly here too – I've had sometimes to wear a cardigan under my jacket…

    And yes, we take breaks. But there's so much to see.
    b.

  3. I am am excited too with this question. Prompt, where I can find more information on this question?

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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