TOLEDO, SPAIN. If you have only a day to spare in Spain, spend it in Toledo. It took us 45 minutes by coach to arrive in the capital of Castille La Mancha and to the most important city in the country. Appreciating Toledo from a distance, we saw the infamous Tajoe River that surrounds the walled city of Toledo and the St. Martin's bridge which connects the city to the outside world. We drove through the Cicadas which features houses with views of the Old Town. The price of the houses here usually starts at 1 million Euros and it is understandable why is that so as the view from these houses is magnificent. Driving through the Cicadas led us to an amazing vantage point of the city. From there we were able to see the three most important structures in the city: the Palace, the Church of Santo Tome and the Synagogue.
Sword-making is one thing that Toledo is known for. Going back down, we dropped by Damasquinados Suarez which is an establishment that makes and sells swords and other products made in steel like knives and letter-openers. The steel used in making the swords comes all the way from Bilbao. It only takes about two to three hours for a blacksmith to make the sword and this includes the secret ingredient of tempering them with the water from the Tajoe River and olive oil to make it stronger and flexible. Aside from the swords, they also make Damascene jewellery and plates. The pieces are classified by how they are made and who made them. The rare pieces are made by masters and are made with a high amount of gold. These usually cost more than those that the young people and skilled workers make as the latter are made with lesser amount of gold and with more basic patterns.
We made our way to the walled city which we reached by taking an escalator. Walking along the irregular and bumpy streets of Toledo, we arrived at the Church of Santo Tome which was locked when we went. Nonetheless, the facade is already more than what anybody's eyes can bear. Near the Cathedral is a chapel that features one of the 3 best paintings done by El Greco. Though El Greco is a Greek, he spent most of his life in Toledo. In here he found refuge and it is also here where he crafted most of his paintings. El Greco was commissioned to make a painting for this particular chapel where the body of Count Orgaz lies. The painting was stunning as it was able to merge heaven and earth in a flowing manner. It is also the only painting where people can see El Greco's face. There is also a big Islamic influence in the city as evident in the Synagogue and some of Toledo's Mudéjar structures.
Though it was already my second time to visit Toledo, it was still as beautiful as I remember it to be the first time I went here. But then again, the memories and feelings associated with the landmarks now are different. Well, it is true what they say! You cannot really have the same experience twice.