Day 100 of 111. Toledo, Spain
From Madrid it is about a 45 minute drive to Toledo. This is an Medieval town originally surrounded by a large wall for defense. Even from a distance, we can see two iconic buildings, the Alcazar and the Cathedral. We had to leave our bus outside the city walls and walk in due to the narrow and winding streets. High up on a hill (tough climb) we briefly visited a church. This is Good Friday and preparations are being made for processions through the city. Behind the church is a monastery (San Juan de Los Reyes) with a strange but striking skeleton over the entrance. Inside are two layers of beautiful cloisters surrounding a peaceful garden. This church was built by Isabella (Ferdinand and Isabella). Toledo has a history that dates way back. At one point, the Christians, the Muslims, and the Jews coexisted in Toledo very nicely. The Jewish Quarter in town is marked with small tiles of Hebrew words and menorahs. In Roman times, the Hebrew scholars were extremely useful in translating the Ancient Greek texts into other languages.
Before and during Isabella’s coming to power the expulsion of the Jews from Toledo occurred. We visited two former synagogues buildings that still exist. Both were built with the help of the Muslims and show the style of their culture. One of the synagogues survived because it was transformed into a Catholic Church. All of the decoration inside was covered with plaster. The building is now a museum and much of the original finishes have been restored. There are no synagogues in Toledo. The former synagogues are now museums useful for the Spanish to learn about this faith.
Next to the water, there is a monument to El Greco… the site of his former home. We got to visit a small church with a huge, famous painting by El Greco that shows the miracle of the burial of the man who built the church. Two saints appeared at his burial to help lay him in his tomb. El Greco was commissioned to paint the picture 200 years after the scene it depicts.
We had some free time for lunch and wandering. We found an interesting restaurant (Casa de Cisneros) that was entered by climbing down a narrow, winding staircase. In the dining rooms, the floors were made of glass so you could see the original rock walls below. The sign at the front of the restaurant said, “Welcome to the XI century”. Ron had pork with Roquefort and I had rabbit!