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Toledo, Spain Is a Unique Triple Treat

As we celebrate Passover and Easter this week with our client-friends, I’m reminded of my recent travels to the ancient and unique Toledo, Spain or the “City of Three Cultures” - where during the Middle Ages, Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived in harmony.

Simply stated, I am in love with Spain, so the siren call of the well-preserved walled city with its tales of empires, royalty, war, art, and intrigue (ok, and marzipan) lured me in like a Game of Thrones junkie. We took a 40-mile jaunt southwest of Madrid through mostly rural towns with our expert guide and driver, via winding roads that made me ever-so-grateful I wasn't navigating or driving. As we approached this magnificent city with its medieval access bridges, we were awed by the breathtaking panoramic views.

Inside the town, the historically-rich Toledo surprised me with its fusion of tightly interwoven churches, mosques, synagogues, and museums. The intermingled architecture and symbols struck me especially, as it’s normal to see them, but not necessarily all strung together in neighborly rows. So beautiful!

The standout architecture is the Toledo Cathedral, which is impossible to frame properly in its entirely, as size clearly mattered here. Fun fact: it houses the biggest bell in Spain! For the art geeks, Toledo was also the former home of controversial and quirky Mannerist painter El Greco (circa 1576), and you’ll see his famed work, The Disrobing of Christ, in the Cathedral as well as in separate sites around town.

Saving the best for last, IMHO, the most breathtaking part of all the meandering led us into the Jewish Quarter, specifically to Saint Mary the White, a synagogue-now-museum that was built in 1180. Imagine a centuries-old maze of white and dreamy columns with gorgeously and perfectly rounded Moorish arches - for Jewish use. Yep, considered the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe, it was constructed by Islamic architects under a Christian-ruled kingdom. Oh, and now it’s owned by the Catholic Church.

Happy Easter and Passover, y’all!

 

Photos by: Christie Soper

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