Holy Toledo!

Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End May 25, 2007

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sorry for the title. I couldn't help myself.

Toledo is a small town just a half hour away from Madrid via the new express train. This was another city our cousin Jen told us we had to visit and we had a great time there.

Toledo is a very old city whose history I won't delve into because it is far too long (I am sure Wikipedia has all you need to know). I will say that it had a good mix of Muslim, Christian and Jewish influence. This can still be seen in the architecture.

One of the main sites of the city is the huge and fabulous cathedral, not quite as huge as Sevilla but many say more fabulous. We are not so sure about that. We really liked Sevilla's. It was built in the 13th century in Gothic style. One interesting thing about Toledo's cathedral is that they just finished a huge renovation that went on for many, many years. They used some new laser technology to laser 800 years of dirt and grime from the walls, pillars and frescos. Consequently, it looks spotless. Almost too spotless. In fact, when we entered Julius assumed it was only a few hundred years old because it looked so new. Does this make it lose its charm? Maybe a little, but it still has many clever pieces making it worth its (post renovation) 6 € entry fee.

One interesting room that was different than other churches we went to was the Archbishop room. Hundreds of years ago they decided to put a painting of every archbishop of the Toledo diocese on the wall of the room. Half were done in retrospect so they all look a little alike, but half were done while they were still alive so you really see the changes in the artistic styles through the ages.

The other charming thing we saw in this Cathedral was probably my (Sara's) favorite church sculpture ever. Julius did chuckle a bit when he saw it too. Look at this portal on the gold altar. Any guesses on what it is? It is the Ascension of Jesus. I can just picture the poor guy working on this and thinking "How do I show the Ascension is such a tight space?" then coming up with this. I just think it is so clever.

Julius was also impressed with the large iron gate before the choir. It was built by a metalsmith who bid for the project but then realized that it would cost much more than he expected. Since the church did not allow for cost overruns, he ended up having to sell everything he owned to pay for it then died penniless. That is commitment. At least he is remembered today.

The last thing I will mention with Toledo is the fact that there are more sword shops here than any other city in the world. They outfitted the Spanish army for centuries. We visited one recommended by Jen, Mr Zamorano. His missing fingers are a testament to the sharpness of his swords. He gave us a tour of his shop which was very fascinating.

For more photos of Toledo, Check out its page on Smugmug!
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