Toledo – The City of El Greco

Toledo is the former capital of Imperial Spain (moved to Madrid in 1561). During Roman rule it was already known as Toledum, and later became the capital of the Visigoth empire. Throughout time Toledo was an important center of Jewish life and Christian authority.

After arriving at the charming Toledo railway station, our first stop was the Santa Cruz Museum housed in a building that was designed as a hospital in the XVI century. Spain was clearly ahead of others in providing beautiful environments and healing interior courtyard gardens to aid patients´recovery. Courtyard design and the use of fountains grew out of Moorish influence in conceptualizing architectural space.

The Santa Cruz Museum also houses El Greco paintings!

The El Greco museum, visited later, detailed the life of this amazing and prolific painter who began his career in Greece on the island of Crete, and was trained as a painter of religious icons. Trips to Italy and then later to Spain opened his eyes and led him to refine his style. He settled in Toledo where he was first hired and then fired by a church dignitary. Too rebellious was the reason. However, he was also too talented to remain without commission for long.

We viewed his most famous work, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586) in the Church of Santo Tomé, where it was placed by El Greco himself. This awesome work draws groups of viewers to linger for a long time. The perfection of color, balance, and design and the sheer beauty of this work made me want to linger too. If I could stay in this space for a long time looking and admiring El Greco’s masterwork, I would do so. It seemed to me that viewing the painting could transform me into a finer person than I am. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed so you will have to look for a photo elsewhere.

Many beauties could be seen while wandering through the narrow and hilly streets of Toledo.

Our short day trip from Madrid allowed us only enough time to visit one of two worthwhile synagogues: Transition. What a wondrous space with light coming in through filigree stonework!

The Toledo Cathedral is a place that I would like to revisit in order to intake all of its splendour. The beauty and grandeur of the place brought tears to my eyes (I am a crybaby when it comes to art and architecture). If you want to go El Greco hunting, then you should know that there are more of his paintings in the Toledo Cathedral.

If you visit Toledo you must try confections such as the almond mazapan (similar to marzipan). I am not sure whether the pastry below is in fact mazapan, but it was so pretty that I had to show it to you.

City gates and walls remind us that we are dealing with a fortress. I do not have a photo of the iconic, four-pointed Alcázar of Toledo, because we ran out of time to get to the place at the bottom of the hill and across the Tajo River where the best vantage point is. For consolation, I can show you a city gate and walls.


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