The biggest cathedral I've seen

Trip Start May 03, 2009
Trip End Dec 22, 2009

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Flag of Spain  , Castille-La Mancha,
Saturday, May 16, 2009

After buying  and studying the tourguide (of Madrid) at the El Sol department store (?) where there is a huge array of books, maps and so forth written in English, I decided there were 4 daytrips I had to make.  Toledo looked like the best place to visit (the biggest bang for the buck), so that's where I started.  Bus stations, depending on the destination, abound here in Madrid, and it took me three tries to find the right one for the Toledo trip.  I scoped it out first, because I knew I might have a problem getting to the right bus station on the first try.  There
probably is an easier way to do this, but what the hey!

I arose a little earlier than usual and took the metro to the Plaza Elipitica Station, which is just a hole in the wall on level 3 in the Metro.  I had been searching for buses outside to hone in on the station, but the stations are all tucked away neatly underground, sharing the underground with the metros. (The U.S could take a lesson here....but wait! the U.S. doesn't have metros!  only a few, really.  I bought a ticket (a little less than 4 Euros one way) with the Alsa bus co. and the trip took about an hour.  The trip wasn't too exciting, but, boy! as it turned out, the city sure was.

In addition to being a tourist mecca, Toledo, located in the region Castilla la Mancha region, is also known most for being the home of the Manchego (La Manchan) knight, Don Quijote.  Also, it's home to the biggest church I had seen so far:  Catedral de Toledo.  The city is built on a hill, surrounded by the River Tajo.  The Motes de Toledo (mountain range) can be seen in the background of some of the fotos.

After getting off the bus, I looked for Tourist Info, but none available nearby.  So, I started hiking where all the traffic seemed to be going, and soon enough, I found a tourist map on a pole.  When you look at just a partial view of the map, a person can see just how much touristing there is to do here.  A lot to see and take in.  Ahhh, there's the tourist information center, right across from the cathedral on Cardenal Cisneros.  But, by the time you find the info center, you probably don't need it (the map).

Soon, I found the beginning, end, or middle of the old city wall, and after walking just a bit, I found the huge fortified gate into the old city.  Each side of the wall has built-in towers, the first line of defense for the city.  After walking further, I found another gate into the old city.  Along the way, I ran across a plaque quoting Cervantes: Glory to Spain and the light of her cities. 

One of the first sightsees was a mezquita (mosque) built around 1000 AD, belonging to the
caliphal period, and situated in the residential area of Toledo.  I actually paid to enter the mosque to see the old paintings, but was sorely disappointed.  (Little did I know that later on in my travels, I would be innudated with REAL mosques!).

After wandering around a bit, it became apparent that the old city, like most citadels, was perched on top of a hill, surrounded by a river, the River Tajo,  on three sides.  And from one of my photos, you can see just high we go up.

So, back into the maze of the city.  (Yes, it does resemble Damascus in the way the streets are laid out in retrospect). I was able to get my first glimpse of the cathedral down one of the alleyway streets.  So, I knew I was headed in the right direction (with the flow of about 80 thousand other tourists, of course).  I headed right into the back door of the cathedral, but it is pretty impressive on its own.

After a little navigation, I arrived at the front of the cathedral, and was just plum overwhelmed with the size of it.  As you can see by the video, it just goes on and on.  It is essentially a Gothic structure, although it had been a mosque, and converted later. 

I went into the ticket office across the way, and for the first time, I rented headphones that
are usually available at these places for a "self-tour"; for $3, I thought it was worth it. Upon entering the cathedral, I was totally overwhelmed.  The interior of the cathedral is totally unbelievable.  You could have superbowl in here!  And I guess they did have their town halls here, occasionally, as they say the entire town of Toledo could (can?) fit in here.  There is just too much to see in here for me to describe adequately.  You'll have to come and see it yourself!  Upon leaving the cathedral, I gave it one more look, and noticed the Lord's Supper in statues on the exterior of the cathedral.  Very impressive.

After leaving the Cathedral, I wandered to the outskirts of the old city and found myself on the River, with several bridges going across, connecting the old and new towns.  The bridges are heavily fortified, as you can see.  Directly ahead is the old monastary.

I toured Toledo for 6-8 hours, and I really just barely scratched the surface.  I would like to return here with a good guidebook of Toledo so I can see more, and possibly stay here 1-2 nights.  I think it would be well worth it.

After turning back from the new town, I noticed the monastery ahead of me.

So, back to the bus station to return to Madrid.

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